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This working group's research focuses upon the history, theory, aesthetics and practice of scenography through a specific program of meetings, presentations and publication. The group also aims to nurture and develop new contributions to practice-led research by providing opportunities for scenographers and designers to discuss their work and exchange ideas in an international academic forum. Our research investigates scenic elements, costume, make-up, sound design, lighting design, masks, puppets and objects, and considers their proxemic relationship to performers and audiences in traditional and non-traditional spaces. Such research considers both contemporary practice and influences of scenic practices upon subsequent theatre developments. Through theme-specific paper presentations, we aim to develop opportunities for a two-tier publishing program (web and print) and an aesthetic/theoretical/philosophical investigation that is both distinct from and inclusive of technological developments for performance.

Work Plan

Our research during the next four years will include:

  • examination of regional identity construction and transmission through scenographic practice and research
  • dissemination of methodologies of scenographic practice: e.g., metaphoric, poetic, political, spatial and linguistic
  • exploration and development of theories and methodologies to articulate scenographic discourses in the performance event
  • potential collaborations with Scenography International, the History and Theory Commission of OISTAT and the IFTR Theatre Architecture Working Group


  • The publishing program includes:
  • participation in the advisory board for the Scenography Reader (Routledge)
  • selected papers of the yearly conference program prepared for e-distribution
  • proposed volume, provisionally entitled Scenography: Staging the Nation
  • We continue plans to conclude the publishing collaboration with the Theatre Institute in Prague, the University of Lodz (PL) and Brock University (CA). The edited conference proceedings of the 2007 Prague meeting are expected to be published under the title The New Space of Authenticity in collaboration with the PQ11.

Group members have recently participated in the 2007 Prague Quadrennial and IFTR/FIRT conferences in Seoul (2008), Lisbon (2009: theme The Politics of Theatre Space: Censorship and other Constraints, 12 papers), Munich (2010: theme: Stage Spaces and Modernity, 13 papers), Bacelona (2012: theme: Re-Routing Performance / Re-caminant l’escena). In October 2012 members also participated with the conference Current Innovative Research in Theatre Design (Prague, Theatre Institute) and in July 2010Scenography Stages the Nation (London UK: Regent's College and The Society for Theatre Research).


Prof. Scott Palmer

Prof. David Vivian

Co-Convenors of the Scenography Working Group IFTR/FIRT

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Abstracts may be submitted until 15th January, 2014 CFP for download  twitter for IFTR scenography @scenographyiftr

The Scenography Working Group (SWG) is seeking proposals that will respond to the conference theme, Theatre and Stratificationfrom a perspective that specifically addresses design for performance (in all of its theatrical forms, not only for theatre but also including dance, puppet and object theatre, installation and performance art, multi-media, digital practices, etc. and for events which might be staged well beyond conventional theatre buildings.)

This meeting of the Scenography Working Group is an opportunity to reassess the stratifications that underpin our discipline: to take core samples and to examine the breach between theatre design and scenography (Irwin in Hannah & Harsløf, 2008:42) and to look once again into the abyss (Aronson, 2005).

The conference call suggests that: ‘To speak of stratification, however, is not merely to speak of layers and layering’

How is scenography stratified?

As a discipline it has been a shifting landscape of tectonic plates: “For several years scenic art has been on a path of evolution. [New forms] have violently shifted the earlier boundaries” (Appia, 1904)

  • What are our discipline’s subduction zones and surface ruptures?
  • What are the past tectonic processes and current seismic shifts?
  • How might we think of stratification in relation to composition?
  • What are the scenographic processes and forces at play?
  • How does the layering of stage space and the performers’ bodies make meaning?

Contributions might include (but are not be restricted to) aspects such as

  • Layering of costume
  • Masking and unmasking
  • Layering of audience experience and spectatorship
  • Levels of immersion
  • Layering of place and space – in site-specific performance practice for example
  • Materiality of performance
  • Layering of technologies – both ancient and contemporary
  • Layers of meaning making
  • Creative processes
  • Hierarchies of production and their impact on scenography
  • How do the histories of performance design underpin contemporary practices?
  • How might we excavate these layers and look once again into the abyss?
  • What are the new scenographic landscapes?

Papers presented as part of the working group’s proceedings will have the opportunity of inclusion in a new peer-reviewed publication focused exclusively on scenography.

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