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New creative opportunities in illustration have been popping up in the course of the pandemic. Theatre and film makers have made deft imaginative leaps to keep shows alive and find alternatives to live gatherings, and some have been reaching out to illustrators. I started animating with Procreate Layers on an iPad Pro in early lockdown and this new work caught the eye of people I’d worked with on other projects.

Siegfried, Göteborg Opera, December 2020. Images: Alison Chitty

In autumn 2020 director Stephen Langridge invited me to create animations for Göteborg Opera’s production of Siegfried in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, working with set designer Alison Chitty to make the Woodbird move in projections onto paper on stage. We did this remotely from Wales and France, animating on paper, and filming the thriving local pigeon population in lockdown provided first class reference. The live public show in Sweden in December was cancelled at the last minute because members of the chorus caught Covid; it will now be live streamed alongside a live Götterdämmerung in autumn 2021.

I met mezzo soprano Susan Moore at a Creative Campus MOT for music animateurs at Snape Maltings in 2018. Artistic Director of W11 Youth Opera in London, she got in touch to see if I could create animated dialogue illustrations for their 2020 show Jukebox due to rehearsals and performances migrating online. It was a delightful challenge to interpret individual video recordings by the cast, showing the characters interacting, using a combination of stills and animatic sequences, also exciting to be part of a team alongside music director Alastair Chilvers, choreographer Maggie Rawlinson and video editor Amy Banks.

“W11 Opera’s Jukebox makes lemonade from lockdown’s lemons… a clever and joyful one-hour diversion weaving lively animated illustrations by Chris Glynn with performances from 30 young people, filmed in their bedrooms, sitting rooms and gardens.”
The Stage

Staged Series 1&2 DVD now on sale. Completely Staged book of illustrated scripts published by Unbound.

An early response to pandemic restrictions came from the team who produced the hit series ‘Staged’ for BBCTV. Friendly rivals David Tennant and Michael Sheen star with partners Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg, playing exaggerated versions of themselves. The show, dreamt up by Simon Evans and Phin Glynn, starts from the premise of a theatre company trying to rehearse a West End production of Six Characters in Search of an Author online. The series goes on to host an impressive array of leading name including Judi Dench, Michael Palin, Samuel L Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg and Christoph Waltz. The production team involved a number of Glynn family members, a bit like the Marx Brothers in lockdwon.

Recently Unbound launched a campaign to published an edition of the scripts from Series 1 & 2, fully illustrated with screen stills and drawings. ‘Completely Staged’ has already been 120% funded by pledges and I’ve contributed 30 illustrations to the book, to be published late September. I hope they make the cut.

I needed to draw on a heap of reference material, including Heath Robinson contraptions, magical illusions and playing cards; goats, horses, crows, and elephants, a depressed goldfish and a well-meaning moth. Some lockdown yoga poses and vikings involved careful caricature and I’m hoping a flick book sequence of Michael Sheen turning into a warthog will find space.

Illustration can be considered a form of theatre, or at least as a method of communication sharing many of theatre’s devices, techniques and ways of staging. It’s been particularly interesting to work inside theatre and music theatre as an illustrator, albeit at one remove.

This is my first post here since finishing teaching at Cardiff School of Art & Design after 14 years, in order to go freelance full time, draw more and work internationally.