Apr 06


A systematic investigation of the interaction between the performer/audience and the scenic objects

The notion of text within the modern theatre has changed. It is no longer only reflecting a prewritten linguistic text, but is often devised and developed through improvisation as a combination of all the signs formed by the scenic images and actions. Even the ‘Frames’ of the theatre has been deconstructed, new technique from the interactive digital medias has been introduced and the audience is let onto the stage to interact with the scenery. This means that the role of the scenography is gradually changing from primary being regarded as an image , to rather being seen as a playing material and treated as a potential co-actor.

To deal with this great complexity within the modern theatre and the digital media and to be able to contribute to the creation of a constant changing and living image , the scenographer needs to find new working method that will make it possible to deconstruct, improvise and deal with the terms of interaction concerning the physical elements of the stage, on the same level as the choreographer, the director and the performer.

‘RespOnce – design for breakdown’ therefore aims to investigate the fundamental basis for responsive stage design to be able to develop new scenographic ‘devising’ methods. The intention is to create a ‘toolbox’ as a common working ground for the designer and the actors, performers, dancers and directors etc. which will make it easier for all of them to understand, handle and develop object related theatre and (inter)active stage design.

The first step has been to develop a kind of matrix or basic vocabulary, which is called ‘The RespOnce System’. It is a schematic classification that makes it possibility to isolate, group and regroup all sorts of (scenic) objects and materials according to their physical appearance, purpose and connotation.

On the basis of ‘The RespOnce System’ different Toolboxes has been developed, containing a number of basic materials, products and three-dimensional modules, chosen or designed within the categories of the system. These elements of the toolbox serve as Dummies or training implements for the devising of a basic idea for a choreography, a scenography or a dramatic action.
Eventually this initial work will then create the basis for the final development of the actual scenic elements, by progressively trying it out with different materials, surfaces, colours etc. until the right visual expression is achieved.

The RespOnce System and Toolbox has been introduced and tested through several workshops with performers, dancers and puppeteers. The participants is briefly introduced to the principles of the classification system and then given the opportunity to experiment with the different object’s and material’s individual function, character, expression and dramatic abilities on the stage.

Concept and research: Katrine Nilsen
Consultants & Co-writers: Jette Lund & J├Şrgen Callesen

“RespOnce #1″, (2 – 4 Nov. 2004), Cantabile 2, Vordingborg, Denmark
“RespOnce #2″, (26. Jan. – 2. Feb. 2005), Cantabile 2, Vordingborg, Denmark
“Tingenes eget liv”, (26 – 28 Aug. 2005), Odsherred Teaterskole, Denmark
“Krop & Materiale”, (12 – 23. Jun. 2006), St. Teaterskole’s Efteruddannelse, Copenhagen, Denmark

“Design for breakdown – tools and methods for responsive stage design”, (11 – 15. May)Conference on Stage design, FIRT/IFTR, University of Amsterdam, Holland

Lund J., Callesen J., Nilsen K. (2005) “Design for Breakdown – tools and methods for responsive Stage Design”. Paper presentation, FIRT/IFRT conference, University of Amsterdam, Holland May 2005.

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