Theatre Worldwide

Registration Open for Scenographic Symposium Layering Reality: The Right to Mask

Jul 15, 2013

Layering Reality: the Right to Mask – a Gathering 
Scenography Symposium
October 31 to November 1, 2013
Prague, Czech Republic

The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space invites you to a symposium for practitioners and theorists that will examine use of performance design in theatre and beyond in order to question and reclaim the place of the invisible, the imaginary and the theatrical in our lives. This symposium is part of the beginning phase of the Prague Quadrennial’s long-term exploration within the SharedSpace Music Weather Politics 2013 / 2016 project.

We live today in a ‘reality which is repeatedly innovated’ (Paolo Virno, A Grammer of the Multitude 2004, 33). Part of this state of constant innovation is that we are constantly staging ourselves at work, in school, on Facebook and YouTube, and in the expanding number of TV shows that promise us a total makeover, or 15 minutes of fame as a star, cook, model or designer (provided that we manage to convincingly perform being one). Today, Boris Groys observes, everyone is required to take aesthetic responsibility for his or her appearance in the world, for his or her self-design (Boris Groys, Going Public, New York: Sternberg Press, 2010. 42). At the same time however, all kinds of design, including self-design, are often met with suspicion.

They are regarded as inauthentic, as ways to seduce us with a false appearance or as ways to hide who we actually are. They are perceived as ‘mere theatre’ as opposed to ‘the real,’ and rejected or even forbidden for being deceptive. However, now that it is commonly accepted that our identity is a performance, and now that not just movie stars, celebrities and politicians, but everyone is expected to be his or her own author, it is about time that we move beyond such easy condemnation and take a closer look at what is actually at stake.

This symposium proposes to do so using mask and masking as our key concept and theatrical tool. Mask is a complex concept that brings in transformation, hiding and disappearing as well as revealing. As practice, masking touches on political issues of anonymity – and of masking and unmasking as dynamics of contemporary political action. Masks such as those of the Guerilla Girls and more recently of Pussy Riot or Guy Fawkes have become a mark not only of freedom, independency and anonymity, but they are also questioning reality itself, and the relationship between reality, staging and performance. As part of performance design – on stage or in daily life – masking is a tool of layering reality, of questioning reality, and of making new realities come to life. 

We invite proposals for presentations of primarily practical as well as theoretical examples from or connected to contemporary theatre, performance, performance art and installation questioning variety of practices of masking (and unmasking) and layering reality. Mask will be explored in a wider sense – to include a variety of covering and uncovering of body and space in performance.The symposium will include longer and shorter presentations, discussions, and at least one party. The aim of the symposium is to map the variety of practices of masking that exist in contemporary performance as well as their use within performance.

In this first ever masked symposium (speakers and audiences are strongly advised to wear masks) we will discuss masking while practicing it. Topics will include: 

- Layering reality
- Masking/ Revealing
- Covering space
- Full body mask
- Costume as performance
- Scenography as uncovering, showing, discovering space
- Masking through sound or lighting
- Masking as a dramaturgical, narrative or conceptual tool
- Mask as a temporary autonomous zone
- The transformative power of masking

Conveners: Sodja Lotker, Maaike Bleeker and Julian Hetzel

Please send your proposal by September 5, 2013 through our registration form or via email. The proposal should include a max. 300 word abstract and a short bio.Practitioners should also include (max.) 2 images of their work, if applicable.
You may register HERE. Registration opens July 10, 2013.

Date of the symposium:
October 31 to November 1, 2013

Studio Hrdinů, National Gallery Prague
Dukelských hrdinů 47
170 00 Prague 7
Czech Republic.

Prague Quadrennial
Arts and Theatre Institute
Celetná 17
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic

For more information contact: Anna Friedländer, anna.friedlaender@pq.cz, +420 224 809 102

Organized by the Prague Quadrennial as a part of the SharedSpace: Music, Weather, Politics project.