The question: How to build a “Vortex of Dreams” sculpture and a fantastical red locker-scape and send them both across an ocean to the 2015 Prague Quadrennial of Performance and Design Space? As the build team for the U.S. national and student exhibits for the competition, this was our job.
Over the course of the next six months, we worked through class breaks, finals weeks, and whatever free time we had to produce the architectural design of renowned Broadway designer Klara Zieglerova and student designers Joe Klug, John Mitchell, Jenna Moran, Meghan Raham and Tyler Kinney. In January, we added the final touches, packed everything into shipping crates, and sent it off to the Czech Republic.
We reunited in Prague in June, just days before the opening of the Prague Quadrennial, which has been described as the “Olympics of Theater.” I didn’t understand the brevity of this statement until I was in the thick of it. Essentially, artists from 56 different countries convene in one medieval city with street performances, art installations, and exhibitions representing theatrical work from all over the globe.
We unpacked our crates and set to work in a beautiful, decommissioned church alongside the hardworking Hungarians and the tenacious Slovakians. Meanwhile, Romania and Peru moved into the opposite end of the church and Japan, Bulgaria and Croatia worked upstairs.
After four long days of setup — and an explosive opening performance in the Old Town Square — we were able to wander the city and see the other exhibits. It was eye-opening to see how different theater is in other countries, and yet how similar it can be to our own. The Taiwan Student Exhibit had set and costume designs from student productions of “Into the Woods” and “Woycezk”– two shows we recently produced at IU! We met people from all over the world and shared ideas and conversations about theater, which really is a universal language.
It was sad to see the exhibit come down at the end, but I’m incredibly grateful that I had this opportunity to represent my country and participate in this experience, and I know the rest of my team is as well.
I think it is a testament to the quality of the students and programs at IU that we were chosen to carry such a great responsibility. I’m proud of the exceptional results we achieved. While three of the student team members have graduated, and the remaining five of us will work to complete our thesis projects this year, I’m sure the memories of this experience will help to shape who we are as theater artists for many years to come.