~ computer animation ~

Interview with Edalia Day: poet, performer, filmmaker and much more

Edalia Day is the creator of a beautiful animated poetry film Duvet Days, made in collaboration with Kat Lyons, which some may be familiar with because it was selected for Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.

Duvet Days from Kat Lyons on Vimeo.

And great fun is the presentation of The World’s First Animated Poetry Slam, a 25 minute animated project created during pandemic lockdown when in-person poetry slams had to be abandoned.

But most exciting and innovative are the shows Edalia Day creates with projection mapping. I first encountered Edalia describing her work in the context of an online talk about interactive projection mapping. I was hoping for inspiration for the possibilities of the technology, but totally unprepared to be quite so blown away by the multi-disciplinary nature of a body of work which moves so comfortably between spoken word, poetry, drawn animation, stop-motion animation, physical theatre, music, comedy, and probably a few more aspects that I haven’t yet named or put my finger on.

Not new as a process in the context of massive budget theatre and music venues, but Edalia’s projection mapping work is made in the spirit of much poetry film – small scale, small budget and created with great skill and passion, and as such, hugely pushing the boundaries of what can achieved at this scale.

I am delighted to say that Edalia agreed to answer some questions for me …

Jane: With so many skills and talents to draw on – from acting to mime to animation – do you consciously decide which to use when in a show or a piece of work, or do you just go with the flow?

Edalia: When it’s my own work I start with the aim of telling the story first and foremost and it could use none of my skills for all I know. I only use what’s necessary at first, but then I have all of these different skills to play with and inevitably I end up having a lot of fun playing with all sorts of them and finish with an eclectic mix.

Jane: When did you discover projection mapping?

Edalia: I’ve worked as an actor for 15 years and had worked with projection several times before deciding to use it myself. Though all of those times it had been in various ways disastrous so I pledged to myself that I’d never use projection in my own work. The first time was in 2008, playing the lead in a rock musical version of Hamlet that toured Italy. I had to hold a skull that was projected onto some gauze in front of me and in every venue the projection was in a slightly different position and i had no way of knowing if my hand was in the right place or not.

When I started making my own videogame inspired version of Hamlet though in 2016 I thought “if ever there’s a show in which I ought to try using projections it would be this.” I’ve animated for a hobby my whole life and if I hadn’t gone into acting would have done that, and when I got into projection, it opened all sorts of creative doors to me, and has ended up being a lot of fun.

Jane: Did you immediately see its potential for a hybrid medium that combined your visual creativity with your physical performances?

Edalia: It quickly became clear it could do that for me, yes. I did a 15 minute version of the show at the Cockpit in London which was very physical, and people said they thought projections would work well in it. I then did a rough 50 minute long version at Red Rose Chain’s theatre in Ipswich using simple pixel art animations such as me riding a kart in Mariokart and jumping from position to position in a character selection screen, and it became really fun finding creative ways to interact with the projections and move with them.

Jane: Super Hamlet 64 is a live theatre show but also exists as a poetry pamphlet with videos linked by QR codes. The show is broken down into films for each poem, song or scene, while the pamphlet is made in the style of a 90s video game instruction manual. I personally love Super Hamlet 64 because I love work that plays around with material taking it from one context or media and putting it into another and mimicking other forms. You have done that by putting Shakespeare into videogames into comedy and poetry, and into a poetry book. How does your work evolve into the different modes for you? Did you plan from the outset to have both the show and the pamphlet?

Edalia Day – cover of Super Hamlet 64 poetry pamphlet

Edalia: No. To start with, it was just the show. It was the second show I’d made myself and I hadn’t really been satisfied with the first show, so to start with I just wanted to have fun making a good show. Also I’d never published anything before and didn’t know how to approach that. Once I’d done one tour of the show though, and could see it was working well, I came up with the idea for the videogame manual style pamphlet and it became a real delight to work on too.

Jane: What would you do with your incredible talents and creativity if budget were no object?

Edalia: At the moment I’m making a series of YouTube animated sketch comedy pieces about trans “issues”.  Each takes about 6 months+ and is about a couple of minutes long. With enough budget I’d love to hire a team of animators to bring it to life in style. I’ve set up a Patreon www.patreon.com/edaliaday to help me some day reach that goal. It would be great to hire people to do all of the producing and fund raising and technical implementation of ideas too so that I could just focus on writing, performing and video design for my shows.

Jane: Do you hunt for new technology or software to play around with and see what you could do with it, or do you find it as solutions to creative problems?

Edalia: I mostly look for software to solve creative problems. Sometimes I get invited to work with theatre companies trying out tech and it can be fun, but the possibilities with such tech are huge and often they’re more interested in just playing with tech rather than actually using it to create something, and I often find that actually the most clever looking things can be done in very simple ways.

Jane: Who or what are key influences on your work?

Edalia: I love physical theatre companies like Complicite and Kneehigh, as well as those that use a lot of clowns like the travelling troupe Footsbarn. I trained at Lecoq in Paris and love theatre that’s full of vibrant physicality. In terms of projection I haven’t seen anyone doing the kinds of things I like to do with projection, but I’m always inspired each time I see what other people are doing with it, even if they’re not like my own style.

Jane: Tell us about what you are excited to be working on now or next?

Edalia: Like I said I’m making these animated comedy trans pieces. I finished my first one a month ago, about a couple trying to get cancelled so they can sell more books, and now I’m making a much more ambitious one about a transphobe who tries to misgender a group of friends but accidentally gets their genders right with hilarious consequences. I’m also making a young adult novel about a trans girl surviving the apocalypse, written in the style of a teenage diary, full of doodles and poetry, and 1623 have commissioned me to make a trans version of Shakespeare’s Pericles. For that one I’ve been having a lot of fun placing cameras on the ceiling filming myself on the floor and projecting that along with various animations. That’s a fun project to explore.

Edalia Day in a projection performance – Too Pretty To Punch


Edalia Day is a transgender spoken word artist, animator and theatre maker based in Norwich. Trained at Lecoq and Alra, her spoken word is full of energy and theatrical flair and her theatre combines comedy, live music and interactive projection mapping. She trained in classical acting at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London and in mime and physical theatre at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

After 10 years as an actor, she started writing and producing her own work in 2014 with In The Surface Of A Bubble, about a world of dreams, then Super Hamlet 64, a one person show about videogames and Shakespeare, and Too Pretty To Punch, about celebrating trans and non binary people.

Since lockdown started she trained as an animator and motion designer with School Of Motion and has produced several successful projects combining Animation and Poetry, working with the Young Vic, HOME, Harrogate Theatre, Theatre Royal Norwich and Lost in Translation Circus. Projects in development include: an animated online comedy series about trans people and Spectacular Spacebots: a play and a series of picture books for under 10s exploring neurodivergence, masculinity, and emotional well being.

Poetry animator Jim Clark’s YouTube account suspended

UPDATE (2/15/11): As Jim informs us in a comment (see below), he’s back with a new YouTube account.

Sometime in the past two or three weeks, Jim Clark’s poetryanimations channel at YouTube was terminated. Alex Cigale just discovered this today when going back to look at Clark’s video for the Russian Symbolist poet Zinaida Gippius. The notice on what used to be his account page reads,

YouTube account poetryanimations has been terminated because we received multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimants including:

* Walt Whitman House/Walt Whitman Association
* Walt Whitman House/Walt Whitman Association
* Walt Whitman House/Walt Whitman Association

So multiple complaints from a single source? Perhaps they objected to the use of some still image they held copyright on, since Clark’s technique was to “reanimate” dead poets through computer manipulations of photos or paintings, often with fairly realist results. I’ve only posted a couple, but Clark produced well over a hundred. Many of them can still be viewed at (and embedded from) DailyMotion, if you can put up with the ads. Here’s a Walt Whitman one to illustrate his technique (maybe one of the ones that sparked the complaint?):

It seems odd that Clark would put such a prominent copyright notice of his own on the video, since there’s no indication that he had permission to use Garrison Keilor’s audio. But what do I know?