Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

School of Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Bernadette Sweeney

Commitee Members

Mike Post, Michael Musick


virtual filmmaking, digital media in live performance, projection design, Zoom theatre, virtual geography


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Film Production | Other Film and Media Studies | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Television


Design for theatre is an endeavor in which the physical, the corporeal, the defined, is applied to an ephemeral artform, one meant to happen only in the moment and then fade away. As such, building the world of the theatrical space, whether physical or digital, is similar to shooting at a moving target. While one angle of approach may be perfect for a moment, being ready and flexible enough to pivot, whether to reimagine due to limitation or to adjust an entire project due to calamity, like the shift from in person to online streaming. This paper investigates the joy of research, the growing pains of development, and then the labor of reshaping and rebuilding a projection design when the Covid-19 pandemic forced a rethinking of live performance. Chapter 1 explores the excitement that comes from diving into the exploration of first concepts of design, with the beginner’s mind engaged. Chapter 2 is a discussion of virtual filmmaking and how the game building software Unreal Engine is being utilized in the film world, as well as how these relate to theatre. Chapter 3 takes us on the ride of The Pivot as a pandemic forces changes in scripts and platforms. Chapter 4 deals with the balance of choices in design elements as they relate to projection in a live space versus the Zoom live stream, specifically, motion/stillness and geography building in a 2D platform. Finally, by maintaining a level of flexibility in design and approach, the pivot allows for new outcomes and unexpected discoveries.



© Copyright 2021 David E. Mills-Low