Sites of Transformation: Applied and Socially Engaged Scenography in Rural Landscapes
by SBTD member Louise Ann Wilson
In Sites of Transformation: Applied and Socially Engaged Scenography in Rural Landscapes I examine the expanding field of socially engaged scenography and the development of scenography as a distinctive type of applied art and performance practice that seeks tangible, therapeutic, and transformative real-world outcomes. It is what Christopher Baugh calls ‘scenography with purpose’.
Using case-studies drawn from the body of site-specific walking-performances I have created in the UK over the last decade, the book demonstrates how I use scenography to emplace challenging, marginalizing or ‘missing’ life-events into rural landscapes – creating a site of transformation – in which participants can reflect-upon, re-image, re-imagine their relationship to their circumstances. My work has addressed terminal illness and bereavement, in/fertility and childlessness by circumstance, and (im)mobility and memory. These works have been created on mountains, in caves, along coastlines and over beaches. Each case-study is supported by evidential material demonstrating the effects and outcomes of the performance being discussed.
Case studies include Fissure (2011), Ghost Bird (2012), The Gathering (2014), Warnscale (2015), Mulliontide (2016), Dorothy’s Room (2018) and Women’s Walks to Remember: ‘With memory I was there’ (2018-2019).
The book reveals my creative methodology and application of three distinct strands of transdisciplinary research into the site/landscape, the subject/life-event, and with people/participants affected by it. I explain the seven ‘scenographic’ principles I have developed, and which apply theories and aesthetics relating to land/scape art and walking and performance practices from Early Romanticism to the present day. They are underpinned by the concept of the feminine ‘material’ sublime, and informed by the attentive, autotopographic, therapeutic and highly scenographic use of walking and landscape found in the work of Dorothy Wordsworth and her female contemporaries.
Sites of Transformation was published by Bloomsbury Metheun on the 24th Feb 2022.
In Sites of Transformation artist-scholar Louise Ann Wilson introduces us to the innovative concept and practice of socially engaged and applied scenography, walking us through her scenographic-led work. In a highly original triangulation of place (from mountains, to beaches, to caves), challenging life-event (from bereavement, to involuntary childlessness, to immobility), and participant, Louise reveals the ways in which ‘sited’ scenography can foster powerful and transformative acts of re-imaging and reimagining. This scenography with purpose is rigorously thoughtful and creative, emplacing hope in difficult times.
Deirdre Heddon, Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Glasgow, U.K.
Costume in Performance - Materiality, Culture, and the Body
by SBTD member Donatella Barbieri
Winner of Best Performance Design and Scenography Publication Award, Prague Quadrennial 2019
This beautifully illustrated book conveys the centrality of costume to live performance. Finding associations between contemporary practices and historical manifestations, costume is explored in six thematic chapters, examining the transformative ritual of costuming; choruses as reflective of society; the grotesque, transgressive costume; the female sublime as emancipation; costume as sculptural art in motion; and the here-and-now as history.
Viewing the material costume as a crucial aspect in the preparation, presentation and reception of live performance, the book brings together costumed performances through history. These range from ancient Greece to modern experimental productions, from medieval theatre to modernist dance, from the ‘fashion plays’ to contemporary Shakespeare, marking developments in both culture and performance.
Revealing the relationship between dress, the body and human existence, and acknowledging a global as well as an Anglo and Eurocentric perspective, this book shows costume’s ability to cross both geographical and disciplinary borders. Through it, we come to question the extent to which the material costume actually co-authors the performance itself, speaking of embodied histories, states of being and never-before imagined futures, which come to life in the temporary space of the performance.
With a contribution by Melissa Trimingham, University of Kent, UK