Scenography as process in British devised and postdramatic theatre
2013-07-01T12:07:12Z (GMT) by
The term scenography is an increasingly popular one within the worldwide theatre making community, becoming the term of choice to refer to the visual, spatial and aural aspects of theatre production. In her book What is Scenography? (2002) Pamela Howard suggests that we should consider the term scenography as referring not only to those aspects of the theatre product, but also to the collaborative process through which the product is created. In the context of her study, Howard refers to scenography as process within her own work, grounded in the production of literary texts. But what are the implications of scenography as process within non text-based and postdramatic theatre? This thesis will consider the place and process of design within devised and postdramatic theatre, and how this fits with Howard's conception of scenography as process. The change and development in all aspects of the theatre making process that occurred through the twentieth century, with the growth of devising methodologies and collective-based companies, necessitated the emergence of a different type of theatre designer. Howard cites an emphasis in collaboration and the scenographer's presence in the rehearsal room as distinguishing factors between a scenographic and more orthodox design process, and as such this need for a collaborative design methodology can be seen as having arisen from the development of collective and devising working processes. Considering the historical importance of figures such as Appia, Craig, Meyerhold, Brecht and Svoboda in the revolution and development of stage design and scenography through the twentieth century, this thesis documents the scenic practice of Complicite, Improbable, Forced Entertainment, Fevered Sleep and two recent productions by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre, considering scenography as an integral part of the process of writing the performance text. Out of the work of these practitioners various models of scenographic practice are drawn, offering a variety of methodologies that can be used individually or in combination as a starting point for developing scenography in a devised or postdramatic context.