workshop. with its bridges through the audience. beyond the multiple modes of engagement. pp. and Garnier’s ‘‘other’’ theater as alternatives to an audience looking through a picture frame.1 These ideas would ultimately return in the final project. The rationale was to direct the students’ focus toward the process and questions at hand. participant and Method The methodology for teaching ‘‘Architecture ⁄ Theater’’ aimed at learning through various types of engagement with the material. or theatrical—and drew connections between conceptual and technical shifts. the playwright who commissioned the space. the course documented here brought research into the history and theory of environmental scenography together through diverse methods of engagement. and the different architectural containers created or found for these events. urban. and the formal or informal spatial structuring of those relationships. An important additional methodology. Establishing the Terrain The content of the first portion of the course introduced the students to key theater types across history. the students were particularly influenced by Kabuki Theater space. became pertinent to the course content and learning methodologies throughout the semester. Reframing the Agenda After conducting several undergraduate seminars that explored ‘‘performance’’ in architecture and separate workshops in which the students designed and constructed sets for dance performances. and experientially. future architects. detailing. proscenium. thrust. As a spatial and experiential counterpoint to the scholarly investigations. This exercise raised questions concerning the relationship between performer. and theater works. This process resulted in SHiFT. synthetically. and roles to be played through a performed work. This familiarized the students with the diverse constructed forms—amphitheater. each student embarked on an in-depth investigation and analysis of one experimental twentieth century theater or stage set by studying the architect. was the nondisclosure of the final project’s specificities. political. fostering an understanding of architectural space in relation to theater intellectually. and architectural spatial sequences toward the construction of event—civic. Linking performance types. building visits. and the socio-political context of the performance. they explored contemporaneous music. and to some degree across cultures. and performing. participating in theater productions. attended a concert in Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and a scenographically exuberant work by the Wooster Group in a black box theater. not just as Intensification and Focus At the completion of the first exercises. and as a team negotiating toward one design. to Noh theater and medieval street pageants. composing. I observed that as isolated and distinct learning methods both the seminars and design-build workshops fell short of their ultimate potential. content. a performance of space—designed. SHiFT resulted from a combined seminar ⁄ workshop in which the students’ research on the history of theater forms and settings gave a conceptual anchor to the semester’s project and directly informed not only the scenographic design but also the program. analytically. 87–98 ª 2011 ACSA . scripted. and studio. art. it became clear that a more fulfilling process and more informed body of work would likely emerge from blending all of these processes in one semester. including those of Serlio. to provide the conceptual direction and content for a collective project. and literature. such as perspective drawing. Of the first theaters studied. and ultimately enacted by students. To assist the students in situating the works. and technological contexts. attending performances. constructed. The students were asked to situate these works within social.BETH WEINSTEIN University of Arizona SHiFT A Performed Reinterpretation of Visionary Theater Eluding categorization as seminar. in addition to their individual architectural production strengths. spectator. religious. courtyard. This diversity of activities called upon the students’ interests and skills as whole people. Their experience and interests in composing and mixing music. and technological advances reinforced understandings of when the audience was bathed in an inclusive light or literally left in the dark. 87 WEINSTEIN Journal of Architectural Education. arena. Palladio and Scamozzi. At this point. documenting and analyzing theater and set designs (through digital and physical models). Individual research topics spanned from the transformation of Dionysian rituals into Greek Tragedy and Comedy. dancing. venues. and to allow the nature of the final project to be tailored to and emerge from collective interests and ambitions debated during the process. street and black box. cultural. The research sensitized the students to the contribution of landscape. constructing. we visited black box and proscenium theaters. reading plays. This included theater-architecture readings. from the comedies played in Spain and England’s open-air courtyards to the birth of opera in Italy and the celebration of social ritual in Garnier’s Paris Opera.

1. featuring a reconfiguration of the Meyerhold Theater. model by Cruz Crawford. Left. home to Aldolphe Appia performances. I Want a Child (1929). Right. SHiFT 88 . Heinrich Tessenow’s rhythmic Festspielhaus in Hellerau (1911–1912). assembled by Tyler Jorgenson w ⁄ content created by all students. Story-board Excerpt of SHiFT. El Lissitzky’s project for Tretyakov’s play. relocating the action to the center of the space and creating a common atmosphere for the audience and actors. model by Kevin Moore. 2.

an unrealized Theater of the Future with revolving stage rings by Andrzej Pronaszko and Syrkus (1929). 3. 5. model by Corey Kingston. Walter Gropius and Erwin Piscator’s unrealized Total Theater (1926) with revolving stage and fourteen projection towers. their circle of friends and collaborators. through abstract physical models. This spatial understanding was further distilled. Friederich Kiesler’s theoretical Endless Theater (1923–1925). Constructing digital models of each project familiarized the students with the scenography’s scale and spatial relationships (Figures 1. to capture the architects’ 3 4 89 WEINSTEIN . spatially distributed scenography for the Book of Mallarmé (1967).3. 7). Story-board Excerpt of SHiFT. assembled by Tyler Jorgenson w ⁄ content created by all students. significant scientific and technological shifts from the time of the project. home to Aldolphe Appia performances. and audience and included Heinrich Tessenow’s rhythmic Festspielhaus in Hellerau (1911–1912). El Lissitzky’s opposing audiences and theater reconfiguration for I Want a Child (1929). This information also informed the final project. performer. 4. The studied projects were selected for the architects’ innovative reconfiguring of the relationship between space. Edouard Autant’s Theatre de l’Espace (1937) which surrounded spectators with screens and a horseshoe stage. and identified the architects’ and playwrights’ interests and influences. Walter Gropius and Erwin Piscator’s unrealized Total Theater (1926) with revolving stage and fourteen projection towers. and Jacques Polieri’s multimedia.

Model by Tyler Jorgenson. The unrealized Theater of the Future with revolving stage rings by Andrzej Pronaszko and Syrkus (1929). Story-board Excerpt of SHiFT. assembled by Tyler Jorgenson w ⁄ content created by all students. Left. 6.5. Edouard Autant’s Theatre de l’Espace (1937) which surrounded spectators with screens and a horseshoe stage. Right. 5 6 SHiFT 90 . Model by Heiman Luk.

8. Story-board Excerpt of SHiFT. Jacques Polieri’s multimedia. spatially distributed scenography for the Book of Mallarmé (1967). 7 8 91 WEINSTEIN . Model by Andre Rodrigue.7. assembled by Tyler Jorgenson w ⁄ content created by all students.

2 Writings by directors and philosophers such as Artaud’s ‘‘The Theater and Cruelty’’ and Jacques Rancière’s ‘‘The Emancipated Spectator’’ similarly exposed the students to arguments against the formalized separation of audience and actor inherited with the proscenium format. for El Lissitzky’s set for I Want a Child. right. incorporating multimedia content. such as Bernard Tschumi’s architecture of event as one ‘‘that would ‘eventualize’ or open up that which in our history or tradition is understood to be fixed. organizational. Considering what the students found provocative—the immersive and dynamic environments. The students concluded that the design of these theaters and scenographies dissolved the hierarchies found in earlier theaters. Configuration for Festspielhaus. Thus the created work the students embarked upon was a collective project. Heinrich Tessenow. the multidisciplinary teams—an informed interpretation of theses works would ideally follow these cues. distributed the action. Ned Bowman’s ‘‘The Ideal Theater: Emerging Tendencies in Its Architecture’’ and Arnold Aronson’s History and Theory of Environmental Scenography charted the paradigm shifts from spatially formalized and frontal audience-actor relationships to site specific. multiplied sensations.9. Although the most contemporary theater the students studied dated from 1967. technological. Left. Hellerau. and catalysed new forms of actoraudience interaction. stories and ideas related to architects they had discovered. essential. discussions of these historical works served as a context for understanding contemporary discussions of event space. participatory and immersive environmental scenographies that prompted more complex actor-audience relationships. and spatial paradigms. and the place within that of the space of performance. intentions as manifest in the theater or scenography’s most salient qualities. monumental’’ and of performance as contemporary cultural. creating an SHiFT 92 .4 Synthetic Interpretation Specific qualities of the studied twentieth century scenographies discovered through the research and analysis directly impacted what would follow in the synthetic phase of the semester. migratory.3 Many of these texts celebrated the work of architects who embraced the realm of theater as a design as well as social laboratory. Critical texts on theater architecture and scenography also revealed shifting cultural paradigms. the broader context of the works.

Left. Walter Gropius and Erwin Piscator. 93 WEINSTEIN . SHiFT Program. for the Total Theater. Configuration for the Endless Theater.10. Friederich Kiesler. right. 11.

chronologically passing through seven precise formations manifesting the essential spatial quality of each theater or set. paralleling the nature of working on performance projects. was initiated with the students’ group effort. and inspired by the precise and minimal movements we studied in Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1981). through physical model. would need to be purely functional. the intention of the work—to create a performance of space. Engaging their designs experientially at full scale offered a critical method for reflecting on the researched. it would by nature be a performance of space. Edouard Autant’s Theatre de l’Espace which surrounded spectators with screens and a horseshoe stage. to be synchronized by giving each other visual cues. would spatially manifest the most important quality of each studied theater. analyzed.’’ given the Constructivist. At several points throughout the development of this dynamic installation. the group debated bringing in a choreographer to create movement for the spaces. To keep the focus on the kit of parts-scenography correspondence. through reconfiguration.7 Drawing upon my experience collaborating with choreographers. With each debate.12. ‘‘stage-hand’’ movement vocabulary. Futurist. only floor and ceiling. or an actor to perform within it. each student’s ideal configuration for their studied scenography was tested at full scale. Left. and abstracted scenographies. the team developed a constrained. The collective imperative. immersive. The abstract site (no walls. non-proscenium space in which to perform.5 Once the kit of parts was fabricated. to create a limited kit of parts that. Modernist scenographies studied. Any ‘‘dance. and specifically the space of the seven scenographies—became more resolute. the team story-boarded the continuous reordering of the components. This SHiFT 94 .6 The modularity afforded improvisation and adjustments. 360° planimetric exposure) constrained the kinds of components possible. This exploration offered immediate spatial and experiential feedback about the designs developed through models and drawings. Taking cues from various scores. The sonic content of the performance was similarly to originate from the texts and music the students had identified during their research. right. The interpretation of the theaters and scenographies would become more than an informed installation or didactic structure. clarifying the legibility of each scenography’s spatial qualities. the students learned where such a site existed after a design solution was reached. Configuration for the Theater of the Future with revolving stage rings by Andrzej Pronaszko and Syrkus.

including architect. compiled from music and spoken text contemporaneous to the project. containing plan and elevation drawings of the set at regular time intervals and information about the seven studied scenographies (Figures 2. VJs. 14. the students added in live video feed. program notes for the play. and key qualities. giving that material relevance throughout the 13 14 95 WEINSTEIN . Reflecting Back Following the experimental models of the studied scenographies. marking points for each configuration and taking cues. on the night of the performance the class exhibited the detailed score. date. Each student developed a sound track corresponding to their theater. Critical information about the project. For the studied scenographies incorporating projected imagery. scenographic titles. architects’ diaries and other sources. 4. Just as the athletes and dancers in the class had contributed greatly to the conceptualization of the movement. to actively engage and explore the studied spaces. 11–18). 8). To further communicate the project intention to the audience. the learning methodology challenged the students to ‘‘eventualize’’ this historical material.The seven architecture students and teaching assistant performed SHiFT—a thirty-five minute performance of space with prerecorded sound and live video feed (Figures 9. as in Gropius and Piscator’s Total Theater and all of Polieri’s work. was reproduced on a miniature timeline and distributed to the audience (Figure 10). Rehearsal. and musicians in the class. spoken text and ‘‘era-appropriate’’ music would also help contextualize the scenographies for the audience. Final ‘‘scene’’ interpreting Jacques Polieri’s Book of Mallarmé. 6. this part of the project celebrated the skill-set and interest of the DJs.13.

The students learned through the enactment of space as performers. fabrication and performance—challenged the students to focus on concept and process over end goals. This shift of focus also challenged the students to link architectural explorations to other conceptual. spatial. engaged the students in a creative and collaborative process as whole people with diverse interests and skills. process and evidence in the final performance. and challenged the students to connect their métier to the larger cultural and creative world. These cross-disciplinary links. both historical and as reinterpreted. Acknowledgments Many thanks to my colleagues for their support and to the students for their involvement in this and earlier SHiFT 96 . synthetic exploration. as well as constructed elements. it invited the students to explore and ultimately create a story of space through text. enriching earlier explorations on paper and in model. and temporal practices. material. sound. analytic parsing. The immediacy of full-scale exploration offered rapid feedback and promoted debate about the spatialization of actor–audience relationship. in addition to the combined analytic and synthetic learning methodologies. music. The consistent thread of the performance of space—from the introduction to actor–audience relationships in theater space. to in-depth study. and movement.15. video. Photographic story-board. This performance of space sought to evoke an experiential understanding of the research through held ‘‘scenes’’ and dynamic spatial transformations.

trans. The History and Theory of Environmental Scenography (Ann Arbor. Ned Bowman. 1981). ‘‘The Emancipated Spectator. construction. 1964): 220–29. p. Texts by directors and philosophers included: Antonin Artaud. but one that does not traverse the audience space. ‘‘The Theater and Cruelty. Bernard Tschumi.’’ in The Emancipated Spectator (London: Verso. Superlative project assistance was lent by Nicole Sweeney. Architecture. (October. Corey Kingston. 1958). In Kabuki theaters. MA: MIT Press.16. Vol. No.’’ in The Theater and its Double. The Empty Space (New York: Simon & Schuster. Garnier’s ‘‘other’’ theater is the participatory space. 16. from lower lobby through the grand stair to the foyer. This spatial and performative device is a derivative of Noh. and Peter Brook. Tyler Jorgenson. digital models. La Villette. Texts concerning experimental theater design of the twentieth century included: Arnold Aronson.Video documentation is courtesy of Schuyler Bott and Kristofer Westfall. MI: UMI research Press. The other texts referred to are Branko Kolarevic’s Performative Architecture: Beyond Instrumentality (New York: 97 WEINSTEIN . which also incorporates a hanamichi. Richards. 1996). Mary C. Photographic story-board (cont. Kevin Moore. Feb 1991) Bernard Tschumi paraphrases his dialogue with Jacques Derrida on the concept of the event in regard to his recent project. Performance and rehearsal photographs are courtesy of Tabitha Rodrigue and Jennifer Heinfeld. Notes 1. Jacques Rancière. and Iain Mackintosh. 4. 1966). and performance presented here are the collective work of Cruz Crawford. 3. ‘‘The Ideal Theater: Emerging Tendencies in Its Architecture. In this section of his lecture ‘‘Six Concepts’’ (Columbia University. actors process across the hanamichi.’’ Educational Theatre Journal. Architecture and Disjunction (Cambridge. in his Paris Opera. 3.) explorations into architecture and performance. (New York: Grove Press.The drawings. Actor Audience (London: Routledge. Lara Lafontain. 1993). and Andre Rodrigue. or ‘‘flower path. 2. 2009). such as the Minamiza Theater (Kyoto). Heiman Luk. design.’’ from behind the audience toward the stage.Tyler assembled the score. 256.

fourteen plywood column-plinths. 5. defining space overhead and peripherally as in Autant and Polieri’s scenographies. and others specifically exploring body. Jon McKenzie’s Perform of Else (London: Routledge. movement. Final ‘‘scene’’ interpreting Jacques Polieri’s Book of Mallarmé. Bernard Tschumi’s Fireworks for La Villette (1991). 17 Spon. I must credit Mies van der Rohe for inspiring the one-to-one mock up and would also like to recognize the work of Frances Bronet. and Chris Slater’s Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance (Cambridge. and performance at full scale.17. 2010). based on the number of projection towers in the Total Theater. space. and their shadow on the ‘‘final curtain.’’ 18. Public for the performance. 2001). 7. 2009). Ronit Eisenbach. 6. and others. MA: MIT Press. The kit of parts included fabric panels. John Cage’s Piano Score for the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957–1958). Cue Score from Synchronous Objects (OSU ⁄ William Forsythe. and ropes and pulleys. 2005). dynamically connecting ground and ceiling. 18 SHiFT 98 .