Written by Chris Remington
March 7, 2014
MIT Director Jay Scheib Takes Theater to the Tech Age
For the conventional theater aficionado, a Jay Scheib production could be a tough sell. His modernized version of Chekhov’s “Platonov” just finished a run in New York City.
Scheib, both a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and a Guggenheim Fellow, has developed a trademark style by capturing the acting on stage with an HD camera for a simulcast film presentation — for this performance it was titled “The Disinherited.”
The talented actors in “Platonov,” which was unpublished until 1923, proved their skill both on the stage and on the big screen. At the start of the performance, the maid, Jacob, played passionately by Laine Rettmer, recounts the plight of intractable debt and a graphic suicide attempt through a riveting monologue. During the climatic moments of her speech, Scheib films a close-up of her face, displaying trickles of tears. “The camera opens the space — it provides me more real estate to work with,” explains Scheib during a coffee shop interview near the theater. “It changes the architecture of the play, which is crucial to the psychology behind it.”