DESG-GT 1100-1101 Lecture 3 - 6 Credits
Open only to students in the Department of Design for Stage and Film.
This course will focus on thinking about design as an integral part of the theatrical event. Whether the event is driven by text, music, physical movement/actions, or visual cues, the space you create for it has an alchemical relationship to these other elements. None of the elements alone is complete without the others; it is the intersection of them all that makes for a great work of theater. Often a successful design for a performance is not necessarily one that is harmonious with the material, but something that the play can push against... Starting with establishing a conceptual point of view, we will examine different strategies for creating a spatial and visual container that supports, elevates, vibrates with, or challenges the other aspects of the performance. In order to arrive at this container, the designer must embark on a PROCESS which includes: engaging with the text/music/material, responding to it in a way that is true to your experience and identity, researching the context, exploring visual and spatial expressions of your response, and making it into a physical, 3-dimensional world. In this class, we will work together to develop a process that is personal to you. At the end of this document, I have included a ROADMAP, which is a list of questions and topics I have generated in my own process, and which we will continually return to and interrogate as we work on different projects. This is really a starting point – I expect that you will change or add to this, as you develop your own processes. We will, however, always be working with the foundational tools of design – the model, groundplan + section – as primary ways of visualizing, shaping, and thinking about space, and we will practice how to use these tools not only as presentational materials, but as the essential core of the messy design process. The format of the class is critique-based; each week, you will present your work to the group, and your colleagues and I will respond, ask questions, and provide feedback based on what we see and hear. Modeled on a design meeting with a director and other designers, we will learn how to provide helpful feedback and engage in conversation not only about the play itself, but the context – be it cultural, political, emotional, or metaphorical. Sometimes, you will be paired with classmates to act as each other’s sounding boards. There will also be intermittent invited guests (directors, dramaturges, playwrights, etc.) who will contribute other points of view to the discussion. These critiques and discussions aim to interrogate, inform, and guide your thinking and process each week. In a discussion or critique, we are all vulnerable to the words of the other participants in the conversation. It is our responsibility as people, and as creators who contribute to a cultural ecosystem, to make every effort to be aware of as many cultures and perspectives as possible. However, since it is literally impossible to learn and be aware of everything, the most important thing is to be aware of what you DON’T know, and to be open and transparent about it. We will all, including myself, make mistakes, and this room should be a safe space where we can express ideas and ask questions about things we don’t know, with the assurance that others will be patient, accepting, and generous.