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From Stage to Screen: How Kevin Dobbe’s Individual Artist Grant Transformed “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

A performer dressed as Hedwig from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" stands on stage with arms outstretched. They wear an elaborate green costume with ruffles and a large bow. Their face is dramatically made up with heavy eye makeup. The background shows a starry night sky, likely a digital projection. The lighting bathes the scene in a green glow, creating a theatrical and otherworldly atmosphere.

In the world of theater, innovation often emerges from the fusion of traditional art forms with cutting-edge technology. This was precisely the case when Rochester-based artist Kevin Dobbe used a SEMAC Individual Artist Grant for his work on Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Rochester Civic Theatre.

The project’s goal was ambitious: to integrate computer animations seamlessly into the musical, creating a visual spectacle that would both serve the story and stand alone as a work of art. Over six months, Kevin dove deep into the world of 3D animation, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in theatrical set design.

The result? A groundbreaking, reimagined rock musical production that ran from February 8th to 25th, 2024, featuring a blend of Southeastern Minnesota’s regional talent and state-of-the-art technology. The animated set materials brought new life to the already powerful narrative of Hedwig, an East German transgender singer, and enhanced the exploration of the gender identity, love, and self-discovery themes that lie at the heart of the show.

A stage production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" with performers and musicians on stage. A large American flag is projected on a screen behind them. The lead performer, likely Hedwig, stands to the right wearing a flamboyant white costume with fringe and fur trim, and red boots. Band members in dark clothing are positioned around instruments including a keyboard and drums. The foreground shows old TV sets decorated with small American flags. The setting has brick walls and theatrical lighting.

The project wasn’t without its challenges. As Kevin noted and as our readers can certainly relate, working with contemporary technology always presents obstacles. However, these hurdles ultimately led to artistic growth and a deeply rewarding outcome.

The impact of this project extended far beyond the stage. After several performances, panel discussions were held, opening up conversations about LGBTQ dynamics and broader societal issues. The discussions sparked by the production provided an opportunity for important dialogues within the community.

And the ripple effects of this grant continue to be felt. Inspired by the success of this project, Kevin is now embarking on an even more ambitious venture: an original opera titled Tempus Fugit. This new work will build on the skills and SEMAC-funded technology used in Hedwig, incorporating 3D animated characters as synchronized “actor/singers.”
From sold-out audiences to community conversations, from technological innovation to artistic inspiration, Kevin’s initiative demonstrated the impact that can be achieved when we invest in creative visions. It’s a testament to the power of art to push boundaries, spark dialogue, and pave the way for future innovations.

We’re proud to have played a part in bringing Kevin’s creative vision to life and look forward to seeingwhere these new skills and technology will take him next.



A stage set for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" musical. On the left, a large blue screen displays a sketch of a face with prominent eyes. Musical instruments are set up in front of it. To the right, two actors stand on a small stage made to look like a trailer or mobile home. One actor, likely portraying Hedwig, wears a blonde wig and sparkly dress. The other has a punk-style mohawk. Props include a guitar and a lawn chair. The backdrop shows exposed brick walls, and theatrical lighting bathes the scene in blue.

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