Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

Laura Crow and Michael Lincoln, left, arrange photos for the Student Exhibit's wall.

Photos/Sandy Bonds

by Sandy Bonds
VP International Activities



PQ USITT Sets Up Exhibits

The USITT PQ 2007 United States National Exhibit team (Team PQ) assembled at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in January to continue work on the National and Student Exhibits for the Prague Quadrennial.

Tom Korder and his team of students had nearly completed the National and Student Exhibits before the USITT team arrived, so the weekend of work started with a walk-through of each structure, demonstrating the features of each.

For the National Exhibit, highlights of the selected production designs from a slide show (created by Robert N. Schmidt) will be projected over the entrance on a large screen to entice visitors inside. Additional monitors will display productions based on projections since photographs couldn't capture the effects dramatically. The central area on the ground floor will be devoted to featured designers George Tsypin, Paul Steinberg, Madeleine Sobota, and David Zinn.

Three interactive computer stations, designed and executed by Randy deCelle and Jason Lindahl, will enable access to the designs selected for the digital exhibit and additional images of the gallery productions. The back of the exhibit will have an area for listening to sound design on noise-canceling headsets along with a monitor with slide shows for the productions' visual designs. The second level will contain an area dedicated to designs involving puppetry of all scales.

The Student Exhibit structure was completed and ready for the materials to be added. The interior walls will contain cubicles of student design projects with each compartment representing one of the design training programs from around the country. One exterior wall was created with shelves for the display of three-dimensional objects, and the other outside wall will present a collage of production photos from several schools intermingled to show the vast range of work produced and the scope of training programs. The center of the exhibit will form a stage for the "Design as Performance" projects, student created DVDs, and live performances.

With so much of the structures in place, the focus for the weekend was on placing the materials in both of the exhibits. More than 20 people worked in various locations throughout the warehouse to complete the exhibits.

The National Exhibit designers and curators, Nic Ularu and Ms. Sobota, led the team in creating templates for the layout of each designer's panel for the gallery exhibit carefully aligning the photos, renderings, and models on brown paper patterns to indicate their placement. Working on this process, R. Eric Stone commented, "This has been an exceptional opportunity to see current, breathing theatre design. Viewing the exhibit will be so much more effective than seeing a single production photo in a textbook."

The curators affirmed their choices as each box containing designers' materials was opened. Susan Tsu remarked, "One of the greatest opportunities we have with PQ 2007 is not only to show the world a face of American design it has rarely seen before, but also to show our colleagues here the range of what the designers of our nation can contribute. We have the opportunity to change our own futures."

The curating team also prepared the costumes collected for display, around the front screen. Laura Crow noted, "The Parade of Dramatic Characters in the last PQ has spread influences throughout America. The use of collaging and recycling in garments seems to be spreading, and each of these costumes shows some example of these techniques."

This year's Student Exhibit is far more extensive with additional support from the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. Exhibit designer Ursula Belden said she was pleased with the enhanced structure, allowing American students a larger and more intriguing framework for their designs. During the selection process for the student exhibit, the jury discovered interesting work happening in many different programs beyond those with recognizable names. The introduction of the Design as Performance projects, Ms. Belden noted "may lead education into a more vital direction, beyond the usual training style."

The UIUC students working on the exhibits have gained unparalleled experience and had the opportunity to handle the designs of prominent designers taking responsibility to make them look their best. Tiffany Scribner was particularly excited about working on Mr. Tyspin's designs. "I gave a presentation on his work for class last term and now I got to reglue his Grendel model, an experience I wouldn't have anywhere else."

In addition to the PQ 2007 team, catalog editors Bobbi Owen and Jody Blake gained firsthand experience of the exhibit and interviewed the designers and curators. Three faculty from University of Montana, Missoula -- Mike Monsos, Alessia Carpoca, and Jason McDaniel -- observed the preparations since they will to host the construction of the PQ 2011 exhibits. Mr. Monsos commented, "I am impressed that USITT takes this project on. This advocacy for the arts is unparalleled. I saw the 2003 exhibits and that started my awareness. Seeing this process heightens my interest in taking on the next PQ. It will be worth the work."

When the exhibits return from Prague this summer, the USA tour will begin making these significant collections of contemporary theatre design available to a wider audience. Those who would like to bring PQ exhibits to a specific venue may contact Bob Scales,, for information. This fall, planning for the next PQ begins. Anyone wishing to become a member of the PQ 2011 team can e-mail

Team PQ 2007, pictured above, stopped work briefly during the recent setup weekend.

To Top

Participants, below, stop to enjoy the demonstration screen for the National Exhibit.