Theatres of Architectural Imagination Symposium
Limits to in-person assembly did not deter nearly 300 international participants from joining a three-day online symposium exploring performative aspects of architecture and architectural imagination from May 27 to 29, 2021.
Co-chaired by Dr. Lisa Landrum from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba, with Dr. Sam Ridgway from University of Adelaide, the interdisciplinary symposium featured 28 paper presentations by established and emergent scholars from across North America, Europe and Australia; plus two special panels with award-winning theatre architects and directors; and 11 Entr’Actes (2-minute videos), animating intervals between sessions with multi-media interpretations of the symposium themes.
Theatres of Memory, World and Action
Presenters explored the reciprocity of architecture and theatre as spatial and narrative arts, via intertwined sub-plots of Memory, World and Action. Session topics covered: performance venues and urban spectacle; protest sites and political theatre; intercultural arts and sites of ritual; as well as dramatic modes of architectural representation.
Symposium highlights included “Earthly Theatres,” with Paris-based theatre director Fréderique Aït-Touati and architect Andrew Todd sharing recent work on staging and redressing the tragedy of environmental injustice; and architects Marianna McKenna (Toronto), Jacques Plante (Quebec City) and Roger Watts (London) discussing the role of theatre design in community building and world making.
The spirit of Occasio, the personification of Opportunity (depicted above), inspired participants to seize the occasion to reimagine the role of architects in fostering more inclusive, grounded and culturally meaningful environments.
The event was the fifth in a series of biennial Frascari symposia, named for the celebrated architect-scholar-educator Marco Frascari (1945-2013). The Theatres of Architectural Imagination symposium aimed to rediscover what Frascari called, “the corporeality of theatre and the theatre of corporeality,” while also mobilizing knowledge on architectural history and theory, and considering the challenges to social embodiment posed by ongoing global crises.
Learn more about Marco Frascari and the symposium series here.
Literally meaning “between the acts,” Entr’Actes were once performed as live intermission performances in between the main acts of a play. For the Theatres of Architectural Imagination symposium, the eleven Entr’Acte videos staged two-minute provocations, with many artists also joining the discussion.
Entr’Actes were featured by authors from Cyprus, Istanbul, Lisbon, London, Toronto and Winnipeg, including five contributions by University of Manitoba Master of Architecture students: SCI-FI by Ralph Gutierrez; Jalur Sutra (The Silk Road) by Andria Langi; Thinking Out Loud by Johnathan Lum; Can You Hear the Light? by Zahra Sharifi; and Monoprocession by Sean Vandekerkhove.
An Entr’Acte entitled Janus was made by University of Manitoba M.Arch alumnus David Thomas, Anishinaabe designer and artist, in collaboration with Winnipeg-based theatre practitioners Jacqueline Loewen, Scott Henderson and Avinash (Nash). Dr. Bill Kerr, Associate Professor and coordinator of the University of Manitoba’s Theatre Program, moderated an engaging conversation among the creators. Janus, a work in progress supported by Theatre Projects Manitoba, enacts complicated thresholds between mortals and gods via multicultural storytelling, dance, dramatic arts and a uniquely designed theatre for one.
All eleven Entr’Actes may be viewed at the Theatres of Architectural Imagination online exhibition, hosted by the Centre de Design, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM).
The Theatres of Architectural Imagination symposium was co-chaired by Lisa Landrum, University of Manitoba and Sam Ridgway, University of Adelaide, in collaboration with Louise Pelletier, UQÀM, and Alberto Pérez-Gómez, McGill University.
This research event was supported in part by the University of Manitoba Undergraduate Research Award Program and UM/SSHRC Explore Grants Program.
Thanks to student support from Alixa Lacerna, Andria Langi, Reanna Merasty, Max Sandred and Sabba Rezai.