A 2007 Exhibition Diary
The 2007 Prague Quadrennial opened on June 14 with a gala party and fireworks show for the thousands of attendees, after the concentrated efforts from the construction teams of the 59 countries preparing the exhibits.
Arriving at the Industrial Palace only four days earlier to begin the set-up, the USITT PQ USA 2007 team found each of the three exhibits delivered to its location, ready to be set up. Exhibits Project Manager Tom Korder started the accomplished team of students from the University of Illinois on the National Exhibit the first day. Within a very short period of time, the basic structure started to take shape.
Many of the designs traveled on the panels on which they would be displayed, so the contents of the exhibit became visible as the framework was assembled. Before long, curious bystanders began to walk in and around the booth, despite the flurry of activity from the continuing construction process. By the second day, the team was divided so that half could start the Student Exhibit, left, while the others continued the assembly and detail work on the National Exhibit.
Exceptionally careful packing had preserved all of the models in the National Exhibit, and they simply needed to be dusted, right, in preparation for the display. The Architecture Exhibit was installed on the third day, leaving only the finishing touches to be accomplished on the morning of the opening. The set-up process went very smoothly, a credit to the students and team members from the Krannert Center.
Over 6,000 people had pre-registered for the Scenofest, and all were invited to the opening night. After the welcoming speeches, the long anticipation was over as buildings filled with excited spectators from around the world. The response to the USA exhibit was enthusiastic, with appreciation for both the exhibit design by Nic Ularu and Madeleine Sobota, and the curated productions representing 95 designers and 120 designs. USITT President Sylvia Hillyard Pannell described it in one word, "Gorgeous!"
First time PQ attendee and USITT member Joe Tilford, whose designs were included in the exhibit, remarked, "This exhibit shows a generation of innovative and visionary designers at their best, and as a whole, moves American design forward. It is so important for us to support this project and to celebrate our role in the international community of artists."
Each country is invited to present a National Day reception, with a new opportunity for performances this year. The focus of the USA day was on the next generation, and students from several schools across the country joined together for an improvisation of design as performance.
After a puppet presentation by Federico Restropo, the students, dressed in white Tyvek, began adding color to their blank world with bright markers and pastel crayons. They invited the audience to join them as an opportunity to find the artist in themselves while surrounded by the art of others in the PQ exhibits. When the onlookers and performers were completely intermingled, the celebration was punctuated by the launching of metallic streamers in a final explosion of color. To carry on the outreach of friendship across the borders, each student was then encouraged to make a connection with at least two people from other countries to meet again to talk about their respective exhibits and interests in theatre design. As each National Day was presented, the cross-cultural exchange continued to occur.
Other celebrations were on the program, including the 40th anniversary parties for both OISTAT and the PQ. The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund hosted a reception for their award winners and the USITT PQ USA team at the Four Seasons Hotel. Several Tobin board members and winners are above, in front of the Prague Castle. The Scenography Commission of OISTAT provided a commemorative event for its Honorable Scenographers from around the world, presenting each winner with a plaque. Each guest received a DVD of work of all of the honored designers.
Events of Scenofest added to the richness of the daily schedule, including the Top Ten talks arranged by Pamela Howard that featured notable and unique designers from around the world including Richard Hudson of the United Kingdom, and Michael Levine of Canada. Arnold Aronson, the general commissioner for the PQ, hosted daily round table discussions about PQ topics of the past, present, and future. Scenofestees could hardly walk for more than a few feet without seeing a bird image or costume, as the theme of The Birds was omnipresent in design projects, workshops, and contributed drawings on the Bird Wall.
Laura Crow hosted a workshop on building uber-marionette birds in the tradition of international carnivals and festivals, using long poles and articulated joints to make them fly. After two days of creative activity, the parade of birds flew away from the Industrial Palace, walking to Old Town in central Prague, to the delight of onlookers. Also omnipresent were the sounds of American accents, as over 650 people from the United States registered for the Scenofest. Students and professionals alike speak with one voice when they say that the richness of the designs and programming PQ can only be experienced first hand.
USITT's International Committee, in conjunction with the Scene Design, Costume, and Technology commissions, will invite the Gold Medal winners to make presentations about their PQ exhibits at the Houston USITT Conference & Stage Expo.
- Golden Triga for the Best Presentation of a Theme: Russia for the beautiful synthesis between the theme and the expression in one pavilion.
- Gold Medal for Best Use of Technology: Boris Kudicka, Slovakia, for his use of technology to create images of astonishing effect.
- Gold Medal for Best Realization of a Production: Johannes Schütz (scenography and costume design), Jürgen Gosch (director) for William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Germany.
- Gold Medal for Best Realization of a Production: Brett Bailey (designer and director), Oscar van Woensel for medEia, Republic of South Africa
- Gold Medal for Best Stage Design: Joao Mendes Ribeiro, Portugal, awarded to an architect who truly understands theatrical space.
- Gold Medal for Best Theatre Costume: costume designers from Mexico, for the vast array of approaches to adorning the human body.
- Gold Medal for Best Theatre Architecture: not awarded; Honorary Diploma to Spain for its originality and the spirit of the manifesto calling attention to theatres at risk.
- Gold Medal for Most Promising Talent in the Student Section and Scenofest: Reinis Suhanovs, Latvia, for its wit and simplicity.
- Gold Medal for the Best Exposition in the Student Section and Scenofest: Students of Latvia.