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"A Stretch of Imagination" designed by Clary Salandy, Mohogany Arts Ltd., for Notting Hill Carnival 2005 is an example of the type of design which will be part of a Special Exhibit at the 2009 Stage Expo.

Photo/Courtesy Notting Hill Carnival

Special Exhibits Highlight Annual Conference

Daniel Denhart
Vice-President for Special Operations

Cincinnati will be the place to be to view the exciting design and technology Special Exhibits being planned for the 2009 USITT Conference & Stage Expo this March.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to view the bi-annual Tech Expo Exhibit and see for themselves what technologists have been tinkering with lately. This is always a fascinating exhibition of ingenuity and creative production problem solving. This year also will feature the bi-annual Cover the Walls design exhibition. Cover the Walls traditionally serves as a less formal, non-adjudicated presentation of the design work that membership submits for viewing. Many treasures can be found in Cover the Walls.

The USITT Art Auction is an exhibit event that happens every three years, and it will be part of the Annual Conference & Stage Expo in 2009. View the artwork that is being auctioned and place bids; the proceeds of this event support the Edward F. Kook fund which provides resources for USITT grants and fellowships. This is a great way to help fulfill one of the important missions of the Institute.

The Architecture Commission again will mount the Architecture Exhibit highlighting award winners from several categories, particularly showcasing student design entries.

Highlights of Regional Section exhibits will include two submissions from the Ohio State University as well as an exhibition celebrating regional theater design being planned by the Tony Award-winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. The Ohio Valley section will also exhibit the winning design and technology entries from this year’s Peggy Ezekiel Award adjudicated competition named after Peggy Ezekiel, one of four founding members of what has grown to become the Ohio Valley Regional Section. She was instrumental in obtaining a charter from USITT National for the Ohio region.

An in-depth exhibit, From Russia with Love; a look at One Man’s Influence on North American Theatre, examines the design and teaching career of Larry Kaushansky. The exhibit is being presented by former SIUE students of Mr. Kaushansky and is intended to draw lineages with regard to ways in which his aesthetic has continued to influence the work of his students and former students’ careers. This exhibit offers a family tree of design.

The first exhibit being mounted by Ohio State University is entitled Designs for Performance offering samples of theatrical design artwork drawn from the treasures of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Research Institute at Ohio State University. Through their set and lighting work, designers make the onstage world real. They welcome audiences to a familiar place or introduce an entirely new experience, creating places and times that exist in imagination. While the design reaches its final form in performance, documentation of design work is a reminder of the ephemeral performance and a record of the design process. The Design for Performance exhibit features many forms of this documentation including set and scenic detail designs, scenic projection design, samples of scenic models, and photographic documentation of realized production work. The media and techniques used by the designers are as varied as their artistic approaches.

Master designers included in this exhibit are among those who have greatly influenced the development of American stage design. The Design for Performance exhibit provides a glimpse of this continually growing design collection demonstrating its value as a rich resource for students, faculty, and theater scholars engaged in research.

The Raven, designed by Ali Pretty for Flight, Notting Hill Carnival 1999.

OSU’s second exhibition entitled Selections from Midnight Robbers: the Artists of Notting Hill Carnival explores the Midnight Robber character which seeks to provoke and engage audiences and underscores the representative cultural strategies that colonized people employed in carnival. Much of Carnival’s nature, both as popular Caribbean celebration and resistance art, derives from the historic situation of colonization and slavery and the social and political relations inherent in it.

This exhibition will focus on the London Notting Hill Carnival, the largest and most spectacular street performance in Europe, marking the bicentennial cessation of slave trading in the British colonies. The Carnival began in London in 1959, and this exhibit will be mounted in a timely manner to recognize and celebrate its 50th anniversary.

When first mounted in the United States in 2007, this was the first exhibition of its kind in Europe and North America on Notting Hill Carnival, giving the work an alternative viewing venue off the streets. A unique aspect of the exhibition is its articulation of artistic process -- the creating, developing and making of costumes which are central to the carnival experience. The exhibit will reference a selection of carnival artists, focusing on the process from theme development to realization. The exhibit promises to animate and achieve the nature of carnival through video projections and audio presentation. Ohio State University has created an interactive program to accompany this exhibit.

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