Home » For and about students » Techne Community » Techne Students list » TECHNE Students 2017-18 » Eleanor Slade
AHRC Techne funded doctoral student
Scenography beyond Design
Year of enrolment: 2017
Supervisor: Dr Rachel Hann
I argue that ‘invisible’ affects of scenography take place beyond design. This line of enquiry was noted in an interview I conducted with theatre director Selma Dimitrijevic in which she stated that designer Oliver Townsend’s input for ‘Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone’ (2015) remained fundamental regardless of having no set design. Based on my professional scenography experience and building on ideas of an ‘expanded scenography’ (Lotker 2015), a practice primarily associated with design for performance (Howard 2002), I propose that ‘scenographic sensibilities’ influence the formation of performances beyond the usual roles of ‘design’ (as a set object). These sensibilities include: rhythmical ‘spatial vibrations’ wherein the scenographic elicits a ‘felt’ response drawn from the collective affects of a stage atmosphere; as well as Dondis’ (2001) ’abstract’ level of visual intelligence, linking kinaesthetic to visual. Building on my MA thesis, I combine performer movement, spatial vibrations, audio-visual and visuospatial relationships, to isolate and study scenographic sensibilities beyond design.My research questions frame scenography as a ‘performative practice’ (Lotker, 2015) and are aligned to three case studies:• What are scenographic sensibilities beyond the usual roles of design?• How can scenographic sensibilities engender social engagement beyond theatre?• How can scenographic sensibilities be used in the generation of live performance as a collaboratively authored practice?In year one I will workshop scenographic sensibilities through embodied experience and perception of scenographic relationships, with exercises influenced by William Forsythe’s ‘choreographic objects’ and Ben Anderson’s ‘affective atmospheres’. In year two, working with non-theatre participants I will explore how an act or process of scenography can be an act of social engagement, and how scenographic sensibilities can be used beyond theatre. Year three will take explorations further within professional practice, developing a piece of work-in-progress performance.