This entry will serve as an introduction to me as well as a piece of musings on Prague, the Quadrennial and Scenofest. The photo is so that you can see who’s talking to you. There’s an awful lot going to happen in ten days in June. How do you decide what to do, what to look at and what to ignore? Well, you have to figure out why you’re going in the first place. For many, the Prague Quadrennial will be an exercise in learning, a way to meet some of the best and most talented people in the theatre world, and hopefully pick up a point or two. For many more it will be an exercise in drinking huge quantities of cheap Czech beer and getting laid (always a favourite), and maybe showing your face at the exhibition, with a hangover.
And what about me? Will I be a studious visitor, the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night, meticulously documenting and photographing as much as possible for future reference? Or will I be in a back alley bar, drinking Budvar by the tankard and trying to debauch the barmaids? Hopefully I will be doing all of these! Of course the debauching is always an uncertainty, and I had actually hoped to strike it off my list altogether. Last year I fell madly in love with a costume designer, but I was going travelling around Europe, so I couldn’t do anything about it. When I returned I discovered that while I had been away she had started dating someone else, a musician no less. Life is cruel. But I digress…
I came to theatre only recently, I began as a lighting technician, then moved on to lighting design, and finally onto set design. Having had no training other than what I could pick up from my co-workers and whatever books I could find, PQ and Scenofest are going to be a huge learning experience for me. In fact, travelling around Europe was also a learning experience, it’s amazing how some geographical areas are ripe for new and original ideas, while others are stagnant. Inspiration-wise, the two most influential places for me were the Dance Museum in Stockholm, and the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. If you ever get the opportunity to visit these places, you should. While we’re on the subject, other notable places are the National Theatre in Budapest, the theatre scenes in Germany and Italy, and the Staatsoper in Vienna – you can get a standing place for the show, thus allowing you to see some of the greatest opera in the world for just Ã¢â€šÂ¬3 (wear comfortable shoes).
While in Prague I also hope to do a little sightseeing. I avoided the city while travelling because I knew I would be coming here anyway in June, so it will be interesting to have a look around. I fear I may be disappointed, however. I’ve been told that Prague is very classical, very beautiful and also rather old. I find this incredibly boring. I like new things, new buildings and ideas, and charming, quaint gothic architecture holds very little interest for me. Paris is a city full of old world charm, and I couldn’t wait to get out of it. I find it very amusing that so many people are taken with gothic and classical architecture, and reject modern architecture in any form, believing that the gothic and classical are how real buildings should look. What they don’t realise is that once upon a time gothic style was very new and very radical, and that just as many people hated it then, preferring their older style buildings, which were much more established. People have a tendency to reject the new in favour of the old, and while I don’t automatically reject the old in favour of the new, I certainly give the new preference, at least while it still is new.
So, in summary, here is my list of things I plan to do while in Prague (in no particular order):
1. Spend several days just walking around the events, orientating myself and soaking up the atmosphere
2. Make at least three new friends whom I can work with in the future
3. Find five really good ideas and shamelessly use them in my own designs
4. Find the inventor of one truly original idea and offer to work for him/her/it
5. Find someone who thinks in a totally different way to me and pick their brains
6. Be a tourist and go sightseeing
7. Attend some seminars and hopefully learn something
8. Keep a diary/blog
9. Get drunk!
10. Get laid!
And I can do all these because I am in the fortunate position of being able to take a month off work and I have just enough money to get by. Life is kind, but I digress…