Thursday, August 4, 2011

What I did this summer (Part 2)

Immediately after the disaster that was camp I left for a quick trip to Prague. And when I say, immediately, that's exactly what I mean... I was home for a total of 4 hours before I left to catch the night bus (no, NOT the Knightbus .. LOL).
When I got to Prague the very first thing I did was to find the Church of the Infant of Prague and went to Mass -- what a great way to start any trip!

On the way, I found this poster:Look where this museum is located (if you can't make it out on the sign -- "Above McDonald's")
Talk about ironic!

After Mass, I took a ton of pictures until a little old lady yelled at me... in my defense, I had somehow missed seeing the signs about taking pictures... plus, I was there for Mass first - that should count for something, right?

As I was waiting for the tram after Mass, I saw the first sign for the reason I was in Prague ...
The Prague Quadrennial!

Held, as the name would suggest, ever four years, the Prague Quadrennial is the world's largest technical theatre convention. I had heard a little about it while in college when I worked in the costume shop and since I was so close geographically, I couldn't justify not going -- especially with round trip bus fare and hostel costing barely $75 together. I spent most of the day on Wednesday walking through the display of countries. I don't know exactly how many there were, but I would guess about a hundred different countries had sent a representative display. Every one was different. These showcased some of the notable work: be it costumes, sets, props, lighting, concept, etc. from the past four years in that country.

Just a few examples (I have hundreds of pictures, so these aren't even necessarily the "best")

Hungary - This was really interesting... a room painted blue with water on the floor - you had to put little water booties on your shoes before you went in. They were projecting pictures from some of this designer's works on the floor (from the ceiling) and playing the audio of the last interview he gave before disappearing.

Mexico? (I can't remember) -- Costumes made out of everyday objects

The Philippines - a two story structure with Barbie dolls around the top

Denmark - a representation of a children's theatre that travels by bus

Hong Kong - a bathtub standing on shoes -- this was on the second floor of their exhibit

UK -- Sketchbook from a production of La Traviata with fabric swatches

Taiwan -- Peking Opera -- some beautiful cut-out work


Spain -- a dress half-made to show the different steps/layers

Lithuania - Perhaps the most powerful exhibit - the Lithuanian government refused to give any money toward their exhibit so they were unable to present anything despite being give the space for free by PQ. They chose to let this "forced silence" speak even louder than an exhibit would have by making this huge sign which people from all over the world were signing.

Poland - my favorite exhibit -- a glass room painted white with tv's showing clips from shows.
On the walls, people were leaving all sorts of drawings/signing names/etc. with spackle knives provided for this purpose.

Before After

Austria -- Model of a floating set for an Aida set on a lake (with my hand for scale)

Turkey - One really neat thing about most of the exhibits was how hands-on they were... this was a prime example, the Turkish exhibit was a model of a car on on the Orient Express with TV screens in place of windows

Brazil -- easily the most colorful of the exhibits... one of the neatest things was this turning picture (I don't actually know if it was a prop or set model or what)

While I wasn't particularly impressed with the US display, I kept stopping to take pictures of the show information... it was crazy looking at the designer lists for a particular show and thinking "I've worked shows that he/she designed/directed/etc." or "I've actually met her/him"

Case in point: Gabriel Berry designed shows my first and second summers at Glimmerglass

BUT... that wasn't enough to prove just how very small the professional tech theatre world is. As I was leaving the US exhibit, I came across this poster listing all of the team who worked on the US exhibit.

I remember thinking "Gee... that Susan O'Neill even spells her name the same as my costume designer/shop manager at SHU." Only, it wasn't someone who spells her name the same: it's actually her. I didn't realize until I was telling her about my trip this summer and mentioned it. And, in this case, she's not just someone who I've met in passing. She was one of my biggest mentors in college - and there she is, credited in Prague. CRAZY AWESOME!

Besides the different country displays, I saw the Extreme Costume exhibit. That was interesting although much of it was just really bizarre.
A dress made out of bullets


Dress that has a windshield and side mirrors
Clear glass/plastic corset
Light up costumes made out of recycling

Most of the countries also had a separate exhibit with work by student designers. These were no less incredible than the actual country exhibits but for the sake of time (both mine in posting and yours in reading) I'll leave those out.

Another interesting thing was the performance art... I saw two examples
1.A statement on trash and the environment -- this was in the main building by the exhibits
(for some reason the video won't load)

2.Something by one of the Asian countries that I ran into my second day in Prague while walking around the city

Well, that, in a (rather large) nutshell, was PQ

Stay tuned for ...

What I did this summer (Part 3) -- the rest of my Prague trip
What I did this summer (Part 4) -- my trip to the States


  1. Part 4 is going to be looooooooong, no? You will need part 4-a, 4-B, 4-c, 4-d, etc.............

  2. Deb... did you not see what I wrote at the beginning of part 1? About NOT telling all the gory details. (Must admit, I looked at your different parts above and for a second wondered why one of them was different... don't worry, I figured it out just as quickly)