Field Trip: New York City.
Of all the arts, architecture and theatre may have the most in common. Each field has something to learn from and give to the other. Director Peter Brook is famous for developing a minimal approach to the scenic apparatus: a simple carpet is enough to evoke the field of dramatic action—if the audience is willing to suspend disbelief in the emerging story. But less-is-more minimalism is not a modern invention. The minimal staging of a play was integral to the earliest Greek theatres, where a hillside overlooking a level area was enough to conjure a play and captivate an audience. There is something splendid also in the elaborate theatres that celebrate the festive spectacle of a theatrically hungry audience. Whether in the stone bowl of the Theatre of Dionysus, or the wooden ‘O’ of Shakepeare’s Globe, or the opulent balconies of Palais Garnier, or the glossy industrialism of Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theatre, the enveloping space of attention is itself a representation of society. Of all the stage machines, it is perhaps the auditorium, the space where the audience gathers to hear and see, that most embodies the social function of theatre.
In Studio Theatre, all the various theatrical devices will be explored, and new ones will be devised. We invite students to join us in a playful exploration of the correspondence between architecture and theatre. Students will begin by mixing inspiring research with improvisatory explorations. Imagine, for starters, transforming your studio space into an experimental theatre, where the actors are artifacts you devise, and the dramatic performances are demonstrations of architectural play.
Act 1 Desktop Theatre for Architectural Play. Students will transform their drafting table (or perhaps their entire studio workspace) into a miniature theatre for architectural play. This play-work will go through a series of rehearsals, culminating in a mid-term performance. Students will investigate and devise magical varieties of theatrical architecture while staging episodes of an architectural drama. Models will be at many scales, including full scale. We will visit local theatres in Winnipeg, and make a field trip to New York City.
Act 2 Portable Pop-Up Pavilion & Parade. Returning from NY, we will direct our imaginative attention to sites in Winnipeg’s storied “East Exchange.” Students will make public theatre interventions, animating the civic spectacle of urban transformation. This new play-work will translate knowledge and experience gained in Act 1 to the special context of a local urban scene. Each student will plot their own path for a curious “Exchange Parade” and devise “Pavilions for the Public”—where people can witness and participate in dramatic architectural transformation.
Throughout the Fall Term students will be anticipating related play-work in the Winter Term. While both terms explore the interplay between architecture and theatre, the second term will be open to related programs and institutions proposed by the student, and developed in a Comprehensive Program Report. This Program will provide the foundation for Act 3: a substantial public institution situated in or around Winnipeg’s East Exchange.
Lisa and Ted Landrum have been obsessed with the drama of architecture and the architecture of drama for roughly thirty years. We invite you to join us in the collaborative magic of architectural play.
(centre) Robert Wilson, The Life and Death of Marina Abramović (2011/2013). (right top/1) Josef Svoboda, stage plan of rotating projection screens for Laterna Magika (Brussels Worlds Fair, 1958); 2) Jean Nouvel, Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis (2006); 3) Robert Lepage, Ex Machina, Playing Cards: Hearts (2013); 4) Walter Gropius, Total Theatre (Bauhaus 1926); 5) Aldophe Appia, model after Appia’s 1913 set for Orpheus staged at the Hellerau Theatre (2005); 6) William Kentridge, The Black Box / Chambre Noire; 7) Marvel Architects, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn (2015).