by Thomas Cansdale & Joseph Carter (UROS 2019 People’s Choice Runner-Up) //
Over the summer period UROS has allowed us to further research made throughout the final semesters of our undergraduate degree. This has given us the experience needed to confidently enter the University of Lincoln’s MA Theatre programme with a strong sense of what comprises an independent, self-led piece of research based on international fieldwork. Our project sought to explore the question set out by our tutor: ‘What is the relationship between scenography and nation?’ The main focus of the research was to document, analyse and engage with the variety of work showcased at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in 2019.
The Prague Quadrennial (PQ) is the world’s largest festival of theatre design, occurring once every four years. It embodies the contemporary scenographic scene and offers its visitors a chance to engage with prominent work from over 79 countries. The festival has been taking place since 1967 and has consistently been a pilgrimage for those interested in the latest trends in performance design. The value we saw in the festival was in the opportunity to have access to a unique environment with such diversity in one site: the Art Nouveau Industrial Palace Prague.
Due to the international nature of our research, and the wealth of art available both at the PQ and the city of Prague itself, the difficulty came in narrowing our focus to coincide with the project’s ends. Rather than pursue our individual, academic interests, we engaged with the investigation through a retrospective and critical lens with a series of pod-cast style discussions. Each of these were supported by images and videos documenting each relevant piece featured at the festival. With this portfolio we were then able to collate our findings once back in Lincoln. Our conclusions tracked a growing concern over the mediatization of scenography, a practice that traditionally focuses on physical interactions with the world. This led us to investigate how conceptions of nation can manifest on the virtual plane, and consequently how this impacts on scenographic engagements with nation.
As one of the first School Fine and Performing arts projects to have been granted funding by UROS we would to like to think that our research may lead to further applications in the future from upcoming undergraduates. We would also like to personally thank Dr Siobhán O’Gorman for all of her support in our research and her passionate engagement with the work of her students. Projects such as this show the incredible support from the University and its staff in recognising the value of the arts in our contemporary world.
*To view Thomas & Joseph’s project poster, please click on the thumbnail below: