On 27th and 28th June the Theatre Architecture Working Group held four experimental labs in and around the Clam Gallas Palace in Prague during the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Curated by Andrew Filmer and Juliet Rufford these practical workshops explored intersections between performance and architecture pedagogy, offering opportunities for participants in either discipline to trade ideas, exercises and teaching tips with those working in the other.
9.00 – 11.00
In the context of schools of architecture the dominant practice is the development of propositions of space through allographic means or through scalar sketches, drawings and models of work(s) to be enacted by others in the future. By contrast, this workshop proposes live, full-scale prototyping of spatial propositions, with a special focus on the body’s engagement with matter, and with developing choreographies of space. Expect to devise, construct, deconstruct and perform space, using simple materials and working physically with other participants.
Beth Weinstein is an architect, teacher, researcher and curator. Working within the severe landscape of the Sonoran Desert, Weinstein’s work connects to the utopian and environmental lineage of the American Southwest, exploring land art, water issues, and the systems that link these to the making of human scaled environments. Recent projects include SHUTTLE: mobile desert laboratory, exploring aesthetic, political, cultural and environmental resonances of desert ecologies; and, with her students, Occupy Public Space - an intervention into Tucson’s transit center addressing water issues. She chairs the Master of Architecture Programme at the University of Arizona.
11.30 – 13.30
Dramaturgy, Devising and the Poetics of Construction
Juliet Rufford and Andrew Todd
This workshop draws on facets of architectural training to explore new possibilities for teaching performance composition. We will be involving participants in exercises traditionally used to get young architects thinking about how to elaborate outwards from a simple starting point - say, a design for a room - to make larger works in which component parts are imaginatively yet rigorously connected. Expect to create fantasy rooms, build bridges and nail together odd strips of performance. The workshop is primarily concerned to develop a non-linear, non-literary dramaturgical model for teaching devising practices in contemporary performance; however, it also encourages the teaching of architecture through fiction, chance and play.
Juliet Rufford is a writer, researcher and curator whose interests span modern and contemporary theatre / performance and architecture. She has several years experience of teaching contemporary performance-making, including group and solo devised performance, cabaret, theatre for children and adolescents, performance installation, and site-specific theatre, at Sussex University and Queen Mary University of London. Andrew Todd is director of Studio Andrew Todd, one of Europe’s leading young architecture and scenography firms. Besides being a practising architect and builder of theatres, he is also an architecture writer, guest lecturer at numerous institutions worldwide, and practical workshop leader in architecture and design.
14.30 – 16.30
Simon Persighetti and Cathy Turner of Wrights & Sites
‘Like berets hurled into the airBerets of boys, cocottes and cardinals
Turned into stone by the sorcerer Zito
At the great feast
Berets with Chinese lanterns
On the eve of St John’s Day
When fireworks go up
Yet also like a town of umbrellas opened skyward as a shield against rockets
All this is Prague’
When, like Nezval, we walk the streets our gestures respond to, transform or complete the city’s architecture. We are all architect-walkers. This workshop experiments with interrupting and responding to the architecture, choreography and/or dramaturgy of the city. We might observe the ‘dance’ of walkers up and down the stone steps, redirect attention into unfamiliar corners, create secret ‘dances’ from one side of a bridge to the other and find ways of suggesting new choreographies through our strategic use of portable signage. Expect to work with or resist the city’s cues.
Wrights & Sites is made up of four artist-researchers (Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner) whose work is focused on peoples’ relationships to places, cities, landscape and walking. The group employs disrupted walking strategies as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaning-making. The outcomes of this work vary from project to project, but frequently include site-specific performance, mis-guided tours, ‘drifts’, mythogeographic mapping, public art, and public presentations and articles. Members of the group are currently working on a new book: The Architect-Walker: Manifestos and Manifestations.
Followed by informal discussion and dinner
10.00 – 13.00
Layers of Space
Ephemera: Miljana Zeković, Višnja Žugić, Bojan Stojković, Vladan Perić and Jelena Mitrović
Ephemera’s practical workshop teaching aims to enhance students’ understanding of space as subject and phenomenon rather than passive envelope or framework for action and event. Designed to help architects activate both the visible and the hidden potential of a specific space, it involves ‘delayering’ as both a city-based, site-specific performance practice and a method for spatial design. Expect to go out into the city of Prague and detect, define and work with spatial qualities you might not have been consciously aware of before. ‘Delayering’ peels back, and creatively (re-) assembles layers of space, place, narrative, collective memory, and ambience to mark a place with a new layer of meaning.
Ephemera is a collective of researcher-teachers, working in the fields of architecture and spatial design. The collective has developed its pedagogical approach through practical workshops with students on the Ephemeral Architecture and Architectural Design courses at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad. By using theatre and performance methodologies in architectural education, Ephemera works alongside students to achieve a deeper understanding of space and concept development in architecture, and to produce spatial design projects, site-specific installations, videos and competition entries that are sensitive to the full range of resonances and (inter-)disciplines involved.
Discussion over lunch to wrap-up