A breaking series of posters for the Denver Center Theater Company’s 10-play 2009/10 drama series aims to reach a younger strata of new play-goers with a campaign intended as both modern and thought-provoking.
Each of the ten posters is two-sided. The front is all words, its main element a question, meant to tease the viewer into imagining the plot’s essence—even before he learns the play’s name. On the posters’ backs, the title and a symbolic visual distillation are prominent. For “Othello,” we see an eye and a drop of blood. For “A Christmas Carol”: three tree ornament/watchfaces, with hands turning backwards to the past, forward to the future, and stopped at the present. For the series’ only musical, “Mama Hated Diesels”: the cab of a semi truck, eighth notes for exhaust pipes.
The posters’ two-sided format gives them a temporal dimension unusual for print. They will appear in theater, restaurant, café, and storefront windows, with the word/question side facing out and the picture/title side facing in. The effect is that it could be many minutes between when a viewer, say, entering a restaurant, first sees a verbal question about the play and when later, sitting, having ordered his food, he finally connects with the play’s title.
Unlike in past years, when each play in the series received its own, one-off design treatment, all posters in the new campaign adhere to an overall identifying format, one featuring a spare palette of flat, solid colors, stark, symbolic illustration, all-caps, sans serif typography, and mixed horizontal and vertical baselines. It is a format that presents even Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as contemporary.
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