Scenography, Seminars, and Social Issues || Grad School – Week 1

Technically, my first week of graduate school was the week before this one gone; but, that week was mainly just introduction bits. My first proper week of work was just this last week.

Let’s do a quick recap then shall we?

So, this week I started my scenography cluster and it has been quite the creative experience, let me tell you.

Wait, wait, wait.

Madds, what the hell is scenography?

Well… to be honest, I thought I knew what it was. Designing and constructing theatrical scenery, yeah?

Lol. No.

As it turns out, it is so much more than that. I can’t fully define it for you because I’m still learning all of the many factors that fall under this umbrella term. But, so far, I’ve learned that scenography is the manipulation of and reaction to space using and feeding off of elements of time, architecture, presence, absence, structure, form, colour, rules of the space, and so much more.

So, not only have I had this thought rolling around in my head, but I’ve also begun developing my first site-specific piece. My scenography cluster will be performing fragments of pieces in the Swiss Cottage Library in a few weeks, so we have started curating the space and cultivating ideas for what we may want to do.

The first exercise was to visit the library and create sound maps of the space. A sound map is exactly what it sounds like it is, for clarification. This activity helped me become more aware of the space, but it didn’t necessarily have my head spilling over with ideas.

However, I was drowning in ideas and inspiration after we were given a tour of the space from one of the library staff members. She didn’t only show us the space, but she gave me lots of spacial context to work with.

I would say that this is the first time I have been given complete artistic license to create whatever art I want… my art. It’s not something that I’ve been assigned to make or something I’m making because it fits within guidelines I’ve been given. It is a piece of art that I am making because I want to, because it means something to me. I cannot explain how wonderful that feels.

I don’t have all of the wrinkles ironed out just yet, it’s in its very early stages. Like, literally fresh off the drawing board. But, I’ll give you some insight into what I’m thinking so that I can get some feedback.

So, my piece is going to be about transgender identity and how transgender individuals have to deal with this paradox of striving to be who they are and having pride in that and their journey, while also struggling with feeling like they are trapped in the wrong body and having to fight to be who they are. It will also speak to how society perpetuates that trapped feeling by distancing transgender individuals from the cis gendered majority.

An element that is key to my art are metaphors. It’s how I think, it’s how I see things.

There’s an atrium in the library that is surrounded by glass rooms up above and I’m going to have the audience in the atrium with pride flags to represent the masses and goal point. I am thinking of speaking to the people in my life that are dealing with these struggle first hand and asking them to talk a little bit about how it feels to be in that position, recording it, and have it playing on a speaker in the atrium.

image-4.jpg
The Atrium

Simultaneously, there will be something happening in the glass box where there is a sign that reads “learning centre” (the trapped area) that relates to the adversities transgender people face. This symbolises how these individuals are stuck in their heads because they’ve been “taught” their whole life how to be the gender that matches their body, even though they are actually a completely different gender. It also hints at the idea that the people down below are seemingly unaware of this struggle because it is “over their heads.”

Learning Centre
Learning Centre Glass Room

My main concern with this piece was that it would upset the trans community because I am not a trans person myself and cannot directly relate to their struggles. But, it is something I’m very passionate about. As an ally, friend, and girlfriend to people in the community, I hope it’s okay to make this piece. As long as my intentions are clear and my research is accurate, I think all will go over well.

What are your thoughts on this?

That’s the majority of my week summed up in under 1,000 words.

If you have any questions, feedback, or general thoughts, please leave a comment below!

Cheers and speak soon.

xxx

M

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