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Theatre Architecture

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The Theatre Architecture Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) invites proposals for a public curated event, which will be part of the upcoming 13th edition of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (18 - 28 June, 2015).

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IFTR Theatre Architecture Working Group Event at the Prague Quadrennial 2015

Clam-Gallasův Palác, Praha/Clam-Gallas Palace, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Shared Practice

Deadline for Proposals: 30 January 2015 / Public Event: 26 June 2015

 

While disciplinary formations remain important, reflecting different genealogies of practice, training, professional orientations, institutions and expertise, theatre/performance and architecture – like scenography, or performance design – are now arguably situated in what Rosalind Krauss (1979) has termed an ‘expanded field’ of spatial and artistic practice. We now wish to explore the theme of Shared Practice and provide a space for dialogue and the sharing of practices between theatre/performance and architecture in an expanded field.

 

Performance and architecture seem to be radically dissimilar fields and yet their aims, concerns and practices overlap through shared interests in the production and articulation of space, the structuring of action and event, the construction and contestation of social relations, and the encounter between built form and the lived body. Performance and the ‘performative turn’ have influenced architectural theory and practice, prompting attention to the body and lived experience as well as ideas about event-space, agency, improvisation, temporality and affect. This renewed encounter between architecture and performance is generating vibrant critical and creative work amongst architects, urban planners, historians and curators and we are keen to develop it further. Meanwhile, the significance of architecture for theatre and performance is a nascent field and requires articulation. Important new work is exploring dramaturgy and architecture as analogous practices and, while playwrights from Henrik Ibsen to Sarah Kane have been identified as ‘architects of drama’, it might be argued that certain kinds of ‘unhoused’ theatre practice offer more fruitful examples than traditionally scripted drama of an architectonics of performance exploring the links between structure, form, technology, materiality, the built environment and spatial narrative. Where else might we locate the architectural and the architectonic in theatre/performance practice?

 

Participants’ responses to the theme of Shared Practice may be driven by practice, practice-as-research or by theory and may emerge from either theatre/performance or architecture (or both). Proposals may take a variety of different forms and formats, ranging from polemical papers for chaired panel discussion or conversation to video shorts offering critical insights into practice-based research or architectural methodologies, lectures or demonstrations with a strong element of performance or charismatic delivery, and photo-essays or other primarily (or solely) visual presentations. Proposals may be for solo presentation or for presentations delivered by collaborators working together productively and imaginatively. The duration of each contribution is negotiable, and the curators urge potential participants to think carefully about what form, format and duration would best suit their work. All contributions – regardless of their form, format and duration – should be intellectually and creatively engaging yet accessible to a wide audience of artists, theatre practitioners, architects, scenographers, students, scholars and even casual passers-by! The curators will select approximately 10-12 outstanding contributions – looking for relevance to the theme of Shared Practice, originality, coherence, critical-theoretical rigour and significance (i.e. inter-disciplinary significance, and/or social, political and artistic significance).

 

 

Topics might include (but should not be limited to):

  • How performance and architecture encounter one another within an ‘expanded field’ of spatial and artistic practice
  • How practices and/or pedagogies from theatre/performance and architecture have been (or might be) adopted or appropriated by the other
  • Impediments to, or contestations of, interdisciplinarity in the context of performance and architecture
  • Models of collaboration or consultation
  • Collaborations between performance makers and architects, or between practitioners/theorists on multidisciplinary teams
  • Discussions of what is gained by appropriating the techniques, training and technologies of one discipline in the other
  • Spatial dramaturgies in architecture, urban planning and/or performance
  • Practices related to the materiality of theatre/performance and/or architecture
  • Critical spatial practice as it manifests within performance and/or architecture.
  • Communities of Practice (CoP)
  • Performance architecture and/or the architectonics of performance
  • Where next for performative architecture?
  • Adaptive re-use as the trying on of a new ‘role'
  • Crossprogramming and crossdressing

 

How to submit your proposal

Please submit your proposal for IFTR@PQ15 as a word.doc, rtf or pdf attachment via email to the working group convenors: Juliet Rufford [ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ] and Andrew Filmer [ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]. Do not send in video/film or other media at this stage. If we require more information about your proposal, we will contact you and ask to see more material. Please make sure that you include your name, the title of your proposed presentation, your institutional affiliation and position or the description ‘independent scholar/practitioner’. Please include an abstract of strictly no more than 300 words and biographical details of strictly no more than 150 words. Your abstract should make clear your overall concept, should indicate the critical significance, through-line or argument of your work, and should provide a rationale for your presentation format and duration. Please also include a statement of any technical requirements necessary for your presentation.

 

About the IFTR Theatre Architecture Working Group

The purpose of the Theatre Architecture Working Group is to explore all that theatre architecture has been historically, is at present, and might be in the future. We consider built projects alongside unbuilt or speculative architectures, studying these from a wide range of practical and theoretical perspectives. We continue to investigate the ways in which space can be manipulated to bring performers and spectators into dynamic relationship inside traditional theatre auditoria, while also asking how else the disciplines of theatre and architecture inter-sect. Over the next four years, we will be focusing on three major strands of enquiry: 1) theatre projects (especially those that provide insights into performing arts venues beyond Europe and North America); 2) inter-disciplinary practices (including performance practices that closely engage with, radically undermine, critically re-examine or nakedly depend on architecture for their meaning and value, and architectural practices which employ performance, performativity and/or theatricality to transform our experiences of the built environment); 3) inter-disciplinary pedagogies (especially those driven by the question of what is gained for students of one discipline in the encounter between that discipline and the other). We seek to develop theoretical paradigms appropriate to theatre and architecture and to the relationship between them – articulating the many contemporary sites of exchange between these fields and re-examining historical encounters in the light of recent developments in spatial theory, architecture theory and practice, and performance studies.

 

Working Group Convenors

Juliet Rufford: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Andrew Filmer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

In co-operation with Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space

Prague Quadrennial

Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space is a unique event presenting work in performance design from all over the world through exhibitions, performances and workshops. Since edition in 2003 we are exploring and presenting scenography as an expanded field that includes many forms of performance design. The theme of Prague Quadrennial 2015 is SharedSpace: Music Weather Politics. Our aim is to explore scenography as SharedSpace – performative space that influences relationships between people, space that provides room for relating, place for conflict and sharing – sharing of ideas, stories, and of social responsibilities.

 

PQ is organised and funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and realised by the Arts and Theatre Institute.

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PQ takes place with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

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In 2014, the Theatre Architecture Working Group will be taking the annual IFTR conference as an opportunity to gather research on a related set of concerns around performance and architecture with a view to compiling a collection of peer-reviewed essays for an intended journal special issue. Co-convenors / co-editors Andrew Filmer and Juliet Rufford are particularly interested in research that fits into one of the following three broad categories of enquiry: a) theatre projects - built or speculative, including new readings of historic theatres and arguments about theatre architecture today; b) performance practices that closely engage, radically undermine, critically re-examine or nakedly depend on architecture for their meaning and value as well as architectural practices that employ performance and/or theatricality to transform our experiences in and of the built; and, c) inter-disciplinary pedagogies driven by the question of what is gained for students of one discipline in the encounter between that discipline and the other.

 

a) PROJECTS

Major studies of theatre architecture and performance space such as Marvin Carlson's Places of Performance (1989) and David Wiles' A Short History of Western Performance Space (2003) have made a significant impact on the way theatre and performance scholars analyse the theatrical event. From these, we have gained enhanced awareness of why the theatre's stages and social spaces have taken the forms they have, how the theatre building signifies within the urban text and how it acts as an aestheticizing environment, conditioning acts of performance and spectatorship. But there remain sizeable gaps in our knowledge of theatre architecture from the last two decades of the twentieth century onwards, and of non-Western architectures for performance - particularly in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. What are the key contemporary developments in the design of architecture for theatre and performance? How have indigenous or local cultural concerns adapted, appropriated or contested European theatre typologies? We are interested in critical case studies and in broader arguments about the past, present and future of theatre architecture. Research might include (but should not be limited to):

 

- new or planned theatre projects - especially from beyond Europe and North America
 
- re-readings or re-thinkings of historic theatre architecture in the light of, say, developments in spatial theory
 
- theories and arguments about historic preservation or theatre renovations
 
- theatre buildings as drivers for urban regeneration
 
- questions about the relevance of the playhouse as a genre / typology (see Hannah 2007)
 
 
b) PRACTICES
 
Performance and the 'performative turn' have influenced architectural theory and practice, prompting attention to the body and lived experience, to event, encounter, agency, improvisation, temporality, provisionality and affect, and occasioning a shift in emphasis 'from what a building is to what it does' (Leatherbarrow in Kolarevic & Malkawi 2005). This renewed encounter between architecture and performance is generating vibrant critical and creative work amongst architects, urban planners, historians and curators.
 
If the influence of performance on architecture is to some degree known, perhaps the significance of architecture for performance theory and theatre and performance practice requires further articulation. Both the influence of architectural training, or an architectural sensibility, on the practices of performance-makers and the significance of collaborations between theatre-makers and architects require further investigation. Important work has begun to explore dramaturgy and architecture as analogous practices (Turner and Behrndt 2008) and whilst playwrights from Ibsen to Kane have been identified as 'architects of drama' (Cohn 2001) it might be argued that certain kinds of non theatrically-housed immersive theatre and / or architecturally-oriented performance installation offer more fruitful examples of an architectonics of performance, exploring the links between structure, form, technology, materiality, and spatial narrative. Where else might we locate the architectural and the architectonic in historical and contemporary performance practice? Where next for debates about performance or performativity in architecture? Research might include (but should not be limited to):
 
- theatricalism and / or theatricality in architecture
 
- performance architecture and / or architectural performance
 
- architectures of cruelty / affective architectures
 
- appropriations of architectural concepts and practices to performance-making
 
- collaborations between performance-makers and architects or between practitioners and theorists from across disciplines
 
- redefinitions of Bernard Tschumi's concept of event-space
 
- buildings and the performance of power
 
- 'critical spatial practice' (Rendell 2008) and 'spatial agency' (Awan, Schneider & Till 2011)
 
- the architectonics of performance and / or architectural dramaturgies
 
- performance-installation and other examples of architecture as drama
 
 
c) PEDAGOGIES
 
The discipline of architecture is already recognising the value of performance in the education of architects, enabling students to test and develop concepts and designs through prototyping and embodied inhabitation and to form more nuanced understandings of how architecture is contingent on the human relationships, actions and patterns of occupation that characterise a building's life from design to demolition. Performance as pedagogical method serves the development of 'other ways of doing architecture' (Awan, Schneider & Till 2011), breaking down architecture's presumed autonomy as a discipline and critiquing its dominant working methods. We welcome papers that explore how performance as concept and as array of practices is being used in architectural pedagogy. We also ask how architectural theory and practice might offer critical constructional tools for performance pedagogy. For instance, how might an awareness of architecture and architectonics enrich theatre and performance pedagogy, generating new insights into dance and physical theatre training, into choreographic practice or into site-specific and immersive theatre and performance? We welcome proposals that focus on (but need not be limited to):
 
- applications of performance theory and practice in architectural pedagogy
 
- applications of architectural theory and practice in performance pedagogy
 
- inter-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, synthetic or unified pedagogies
 
- the uses of construction or 'constructedness' in teaching writing for performance, dramaturgy, or devised performance practices
 
- the architectural in scenographic and performance design pedagogy
 
- choreographic or devising tools that engage with the architecture of movement (for instance, William Forsythe's 'choreographic objects')
 
- pedagogical architectures: power, discipline and 'dressage' (Lefebvre 2004)
 
 
Abstracts (up to 300 words) will be accepted in English and French although the group's primary working language is English.
 
Abstracts are due by 15 January 2014 and notice of acceptance will be given towards the end of February 2014.
 
Abstracts should be submitted through the IFTR's online system, managed by Cambridge Journals. Please visit http://iftr2014warwick.org/?page_id=144. Please note that accepted abstracts will be published in the Congress's Abstracts Book. Additional information such as the form the proposed submission will take, or information about restrictions to your availability over the course of the IFTR World Congress, should be included on the online form under 'Equipment required.'
 
Completed papers are submitted by email to both convenors by the end of June 2014. Papers will then be distributed to the groups' members for discussion. Group members are expected to read all papers in advance of the WG meetings, and to come prepared to give a short presentation around their own paper as well as engaging in productive discussion about all other group members' papers.
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