March 2011

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March 2011

News & Notices

Prepare PQ Exhibits for Travel

Alexandra Bonds VP-International Activities

The University of Montana student team with David Grindle and Dan Denhart, reflecting on their accomplishment and anticipating their trip to Prague to assemble the USA-USITT exhibits.

Photos/Alexandra Bonds

Exactly five months before the gala opening of the 2011 Prague Quadrennial on June 15, members of the USITT-USA Exhibits Committee assembled in Missoula, Montana for the trial set ups of the three exhibits planned for the PQ. Hosting the event were Mike Monsos and Alessia Carpoca, University of Montana Missoula faculty members from the School of Theatre & Dance, and their team of nine students. The Montana group has been working on the construction of the three exhibits since August and were ready to show their almost-completed work to the rest of the team.

David Grindle, Mike Monsos, Dan Denhart, and Paul Brunner discuss the assembly of a door for the storage shed outside the exhibit.

A view of the National exhibit after assembly.

The National Exhibit is an evocation of the garage and found space-style theatre buildings where many of the judged companies perform. Designed by Bill Bloodgood, the walls of the exhibit emulate bricks. The students cut over 15,000 blocks of wood and applied them to the facade and interior of the structure to create the brick texture. Led by Ms. Carpoca, they next painted the exterior walls, first to heighten the brick effect, and then to deface it with graffiti. The iconic poster image of President Obama is prominently located on one wall so that it will be one of the first things visitors see when they come to the exhibit.

The finished construction was practically camouflaged in the scene shop, sharing the same paint colors and spattered textures of the surrounding walls and floors. When the exhibit is remounted in the smooth marble modernist environment of the Velerzni Palace, the location of the exhibition in Prague, the contrast will be striking.

Artistic director Susan Tsu, and curators Chris Barreca and Linda Cho, spent much of their time in Missoula determining the location for each of the 37 productions in the exhibit. In addition to being mounted on the walls, pieces are placed on ladders, sawhorses, bulletin boards, and other makeshift frameworks reflective of the workshop environment. Display artifacts include models, digital frames, and large-scale photographic cutouts as well as props and costumes. Assistant Designer Eric Stone was occupied most of the week meticulously mounting the photos and labels on foamboard.

In addition to exhibit arrangement, there was a trial run of the widescreen projections designed by Jason Lindhal, which will present clips from multi-media productions, as well as interviews with many of the artists included in the exhibit. The effect is made possible by a generous donation from TMB and Green Hippo, who are providing the projection equipment for the showings in Prague and at the 2012 USITT Conference & Stage Expo in Long Beach, California.

Lighting equipment came from Seachanger and ETC, and the exhibit lighting is designed by Allen Hahn. Sound apparatus was shipped in from d+b audiotechnik and Sennheisser and designed by Don Tindall. Paul Brunner from Indiana University in Bloomington was present since he, his shop, and students have been chosen to construct the USITT PQ USA 2015 exhibits. USITT Executive Director David Grindle participated in the process and remarked that is it quite likely this is the only exhibit in the Section of Regions and Countries built entirely by students, one of the hallmarks of the culture of USITT.

The Student Exhibit, Emerge, was also set up for Rachelle Beckermann and Collin Ranney, members of the student committee to refine. The curated portion of their exhibit will be presented in digital frames, and the second focus will be on American students who come to Prague to create designs within the space during the exhibition hours. Teams of two students from different schools will be given a phrase of poetry and 90 minutes to design their response to it, using found objects and art supplies provided. All their new works will be added to the display for an ever-changing exhibit. There are still time slots available for students wanting to participate in this part of the exhibit. Their mentor, Tom Burch, was also in attendance to work out the details of the participatory aspect of the exhibit. For more information on participating, go to

The Architecture Exhibit will feature eight projects and have glimpses of dozens of other buildings to demonstrate the vast number of theatres being developed in America. Two plexiglass towers will house mini-projectors showing time-lapse videos of the construction process. The architecture exhibits from each country are built to fit on a table, and charged with contributing to the discussion, "What will you bring to the table?"

All USITT members are welcome and encouraged to travel to Prague to partake in this most expansive and significant recognition of the contribution of design to the profession of theatre. In addition to the exhibit, there will be performances from across the globe, seminars and workshops, and the Scenofest of activities for students. Everyone who has ever attended a PQ event has invariably said that the experience has changed their lives.

For more information about the events connected with PQ 2011, there are two sessions scheduled during the USITT Annual Conference in Charlotte. Sodja Lotker, Artistic Director of the PQ, will present the plans for this year's exposition on Wednesday, March 9 at 4:15. Thursday, March 10 at 5:30, Jessica Bowles and James McKernan will introduce the range of activities for the Scenofest.

See you in Prague!