Launch of Theatre and Performance Design

CCW Professor Jane Collins, Professor Arnold Aronson of Columbia University and Routledge will launch the new journal Theatre and Performance Design, devoted to the study of scenography, on 22 June at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, PQ 2015. Theatre & Performance Design is a quarterly journal publishing in March, June, October and December.

In their introduction to the journal Aronson and Collins explain why this new publication is so timely. ‘In the past, discussion pertaining to design and production has been hampered by the fact that it was spread across a range of different publications where debates were often subsumed by other aspects of practice. As a result the field has been denied the opportunity to engage with other related areas at the appropriate level, and the critical edge in debate has often been diffused. Further complicating the effort, a de facto firewall was seemingly erected between practice and theory. We hope that with the publication of Theatre and Performance Design, there will be a true conversation, and that researchers, teachers, students and practitioners will now have a dedicated journal that will facilitate rapid and informed response to current, ongoing and emerging concerns, thereby stimulating further enquiry and providing a strong base from which theatre and performance design and scenography can confidently engage with other discourse on its own terms. We hope that this journal will not only make a contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the field but crucially shape how that knowledge is produced.

We wanted this first double issue to address the state of the art in theatre design and scenography internationally and explore the challenges and questions the field faces in the twenty-first century. In the call for papers we suggested that we are currently undergoing a significant “turn” towards scenography, both as a critical framework and as an expansion of practice across a broad range of theatre- and performance-related activities.

What is a “turn”? The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 40 definitions for the noun “turn” and another 28 for the verb. None cites the academic usage, but a few definitions seem relevant: “change of direction or course”; “the action, or an act, of turning or changing; change, alteration, modification”; “The point at which one named period of time gives way to the next; the beginning or end of a named period of time, regarded in relation to the transition point between it and the preceding or following period”. One definition stood out as particularly apt: “The time for action or proceeding of any kind which comes round to each individual of a series in succession; (each or any one’s) recurring occasion of action, etc. in a series of acts done, or to be done, by (or to) a number in rotation”. This, of course, is the definition embodied in the song “Rose’s Turn” from the landmark musical Gypsy: “Starting now it’s gonna be my turn”. So not only do we believe that theatre and performance studies are altering their direction, moving into a new period, but also that within those fields and beyond it is time for scenography to take centre stage. It’s our turn.’

The online version of the journal is now available from Taylor & Francis Online.

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