PQ STUDIO: Common Design Project Special Edition

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PQ Studio celebrates the real and imaginary spaces in which designers create. Our studios, whether physical or mental spaces, are places where imagined ideas are incubated, assessed, selected or rejected, and then re-imagined; a process repeated and repeated in search of the elusive and alchemical ingredients of theatricality. PQ studio is meant for anyone who seeks new skills, inspiration and knowledge and is willing to learn in our shared space, should it be virtual and or real.

Call to Performance Design Educators and Students

PQ STUDIO: Common Design Project Special Edition

Text: The White Plague (Czech: Bílá nemoc) 
Author: renowned Czech writer, playwright, critic and originator of the word Robot, Karel Čapek  
Open Call text: to download HERE
Deadline for Institutions to Register Intent: 15 June or 1 October (see two timeline options in the Call)

In light of this unprecedented period of self-isolation in the wake of Covid-19, the Prague Quadrennial, in collaboration with Prague’s Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI) launches the PQ STUDIO: Common Design Project Special Edition – The White Plague. The goal of this project is to offer students who may have found their summer creative projects cancelled, a chance to find artistic inspiration through a play that eerily anticipated – over eighty years ago – many of the dangers the world is facing today.  

While we are confined to our homes, restricted from gathering in groups and our theatres and performance spaces remain dark, PQ Studio will never the less celebrate the real and imaginary spaces in which designers create. Our studios are both physical and mental spaces. In these spaces, our imagined ideas are incubated, assessed, selected or rejected and then re-imagined; a process repeated and repeated in search of the elusive and alchemical ingredients of theatricality. PQ Studio: Common Design Project will explore this process and its resulting products through a curated on-line exhibition of student designs that develop out of design-course work/assignment. 

The diversity of presentation seen at the last few editions of PQ, with representation from traditional theatre, performative installation and immersive experience, demonstrates that performance design is an evolving art form – continually being redefined by its practitioners. With this in mind, PQ Studio launches this project by asking these questions: What is the relationship between traditional, text-based plays and performance design in 2020? How can performance designers engage with these texts to create immediately relevant theatrical experiences for modern audiences? How can we dynamically answer: Why this play? Why now? And how, as visual dramaturges, can performance designers assume creative leadership of a text-based production?  

With these questions in mind, and in celebration of the practice, craft and artistry of design for text-based theatre, PQ Studio: Common Design Project Special Edition invites the international community of design for performance courses to set The White Plague as a studio design project (conceived for any type of theatre, whether traditional proscenium, small and immersive spaces, found space projects, etc.) that encourages students and emerging designers to explore the text through their lens, and to consider approaches meaningful to a contemporary audience. It is hoped that this project fits existing conceptual design project space in the course syllabi, with course leaders simply using The White Plague as the text. Participating design courses will then be able to submit one project for the PQ Studio Team to consider. 

The 2020 Special Edition Common Design Project will catalyze a global discussion between students and educators as they explore and create designs for The White Plague (Czech: Bílá nemoc) by Karel Čapek. Design courses (whether undergraduate or graduate) will individually set the project within their existing teaching structures, creating local conversations not only about the text and approaches to its staging, but also the nature of art, performance design/scenography, and theatre. These conversations will then expand onto an international platform, generating an exciting opportunity to showcase the next generation of performance designers.  The selected project will be invited to engage with other emerging artists and leading practitioners over three days of on-line moderated discussion examining the play and proposed designs. The project will also include, two webinars created by PQ/ATI specifically for this project, the opportunity to check-in with a member of the PQ Studio Team during the design process, and on-line organized critiques and discussion of the exhibited works led by leading performance designers and educators. 

In addition to the organized critiques in to be held in December 2020, in January 2021, Prague’s Arts and Theatre Institute will celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the world premiere of Čapek’s science fiction play RUR, along with his other work, including The White Plague. The design submissions chosen by the PQ Studio Jury will also have their work featured by the Art and Theatre Institute planned online celebration of Capek’s work. The on-line gallery emerging from the Common Design Project will become part of a series of international activities reflecting on current ethical issues connected with scientific and technological developments and ultimately, the sustainability of our civilization. Select projects may also be featured in Extras, a special on-line section of ArteActa; a peer-reviewed journal focused on the performing arts and artistic research, and published bi-annually by the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. 

ArteActa is a peer-reviewed journal focused on the performing arts and artistic research.  Founded in 2018, and published bi-annually by the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, ArteActa’s mission comprises three basic content pillars: contemporary performing art of the 20th and 21st centuries with an emphasis on audio-visuals, theatre, music, dance, and their interdisciplinary intersections; artistic research in performing arts encompassing the wide spectrum of the definition of the notion; essays, translations, and reviews of significant texts, as well as other research-related outputs. For more information see: https://www.arteacta.cz/english/

This project is one of several ongoing activities the PQ team initiates and coordinates in between main editions of the Exhibition and Festival.