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Dorita Hannah
NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

Author: Dorita Hannah

Performance space: St Annes Church: Prague Crossroads

Theatre company/company produced for: Architecture Section: 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Space & Design

Month & year of original production: June 16th - 26th, 2011

Description of items intended for exhibition:

Project description:
Sited at Prague’s literal & metaphorical crossroads, NOW/NEXT explored the intersection between performance & space. It displayed work from 32 countries in the National Exhibition (representing practices NOW), projected cutting-edge projects in the Media Tower (working BETWEEN architecture & scenography) and drew together designers/theorists in the Open Spatial Laboratory (asking what a theatre could be NEXT). It also incorporated OISTAT’s 4-yearly Theatre Architecture Competition (TAC).

The Exhibition was bifurcated by a glowing wall that displayed selected TAC submissions printed onto suspended plastic sheets. Each nation presented their current state of theatre via a specially designed table they adapted or redesigned. The 10m high Media Tower visually linked the lower exhibition space with the upper Laboratory that also housed a projection tower and a studio for visiting international researchers & practitioners. It also doubled as a space for public lectures, symposia & reviews.

Performance Design
Costume Design
Theatre Architecture

Set designer: Dorita Hannah (designer)
Director/choreographer: Dorita Hannah (curator)
Other creative collaborators: Lenka Bednarova (technical design assistant), Nick Kapica (spatial typographer), Morgan Terry (research assistant), Sodja Lotker (artistic director), Daniela Pařízková (executive director), Petr Prokop (technical director), Ales Rumpel (program coordinator), Fabricated by Form-a

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Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: Design Drawings
The Architecture Section was conceived as a site-specific installation within the ancient deconsecrated church of St Annes with its layers of time and textures. Acknowledging that this space was set up by Vaclac Havel for global cultural discourse, the design strategy centered the installation on the upstairs space as a gathering ground for sociality and discussion. The existing stage was negated by a Media Tower that visually linked downstairs Exhibition and upstairs Spatial Lab.

Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: Plan, Sections & Tables
Each of the 32 participating nations was offered a table as a site for their exhibits with the following questions: "In this age of global media events, new technologies, shifting performance genres, & local festive expression … what is the contemporary place of performance in your country? ... What would you bring to the table at PQ’11?" Varied responses included imaginative installations, unfolding displays, embedded technologies, deconstructed and reconstructed tables and even prayer rug.

Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: Site Overview
The Architecture Section was a lively space embedded with sound, light & moving images. Each national table presented an expression of its country's performance space, while the Media Tower projected 25 3-minute videos of significant projects integrating architecture & performance: including Zaha Hadid's temporary Bach Pavilion, Sasha Waltz's 'dialogues' with new buildings and a performance of resistance at the West Bank Wall. A small cafe & table of books gathered people in front of the tower.

Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: Exhibition below and Laboratory/Workshop above
The upper level presented an Open Spatial Laboratory inhabited by 21 selected PhD candidates and emerging designers/architects researching the interestion between spatial and performance practices. A smaller tower permitted daylight projections and the room was organized around long tables. Banks of wooden rosta either side created a landscape for spectators, allowing the room to be used for performances, symposia, guest lectures and public discussions.

Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: TAC Wall & Colonnade of Tables through the Crypt
The central TAC Wall was a light-box presenting winning & selected designs from the 4-yearly Theatre Architecture Competition, with entries printed onto rigid plastic sheets suspended in front of its glowing surfaces. Because the church's frescoed walls couldn't be touched, work was exhibited through tables lined up either side of TAC wall, which provided ambient light. Each table was a site with its own character, materiality, technology & identity, often engaging with visitors' bodies.

Dorita Hannah - NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads

NOW/NEXT: Spatial Laboratory as Light-Filled Performance Space
The public program of international guest lectures was structured around the questions: What, When, Where, How and Why is (a) Theatre? -- bringing together theorists and practitioners, designers and artists, scenographers and architects. The flexible space experimented with non-frontal arrangements and the use of the table as a stage for spectatorship and participation.

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