Jan Pappelbaum, Professor Bernhardi | 2016 | Photo © Jan Pappelbaum

What is Stage: From Text to Space

August 14, 2018

Author

Giuliano Picchi

The ”What Is Stage” three-year programme is part of the Creation for Freespace performing arts platform at the West Kowloon Cultural District of Hong Kong and is curated by theatre director Edward Lam. The programme explores the art of scenography in theatre-making. Last year’s theme was “Dynamics of Seeing” with a programme revolving around the figure of set designer Jan Versweyveld.
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
This second year’s programme is titled “From Text to Space” and focuses on scenographer Jan Pappelbaum from Schaubühne Berlin. In line with the artistic strategy of Performing Arts team, which allows the creative process to develop with the necessary time and stimulation, What Is Stage is at the heart of the West Kowloon’s community capacity development initiatives and has been an essential agent for inspiring a comprehensive rethink of next-generation theatre for Hong Kong and the region.
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
This summer, the programme provided a panoramic overview of the multi-layered field of contemporary scenography practices. The sessions included public seminars, screenings and discussions, and practice-based artist workshops, drawing upon the works of Pappelbaum.
Jan Pappelbaum, Professor Bernhardi | 2016 | Photo © Jan Pappelbaum
Jan Pappelbaum, Professor Bernhardi | 2016 | Photo © Jan Pappelbaum
At the end of the series, participants should have acquired a deeper understanding of how literary texts are interpreted and transformed into visual presentations on the stage.  
Jan Pappelbaum, Blasted | 2005 | Photo © Jan Pappelbaum
Jan Pappelbaum, Blasted | 2005 | Photo © Jan Pappelbaum
Through the programming of What Is Stage: From Text to Space, an opening public seminar, led by Edward Lam, introduced an overview of the development of contemporary scenography. The series was followed by week-long screenings and discussions to contextualize the works and background of Jan Pappelbaum, as well as an artist workshop, titled ‘Dramaturgy and Beyond’, which illustrated the critical role of scenography in contributing to the successful delivery of a holistic theatrical experience.
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
The session culminated with a final artist’s workshop and a closing public seminar led by the German set designer, with the aim of deconstructing the works and processes of a professional scenographer – a journey that starts with textual and literary materials, continues with model building and leads to the path of the final presentation.
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
Louis Yu, Executive Director, Performing Arts, WKCDA, stresses the significance of the initiative: “What Is Stage is a part of the district-wide Creation of Freespace programme series, which streamlines efforts at West Kowloon across the performing arts genres of dance, theatre, music, and xiqu. The programming provides capacity-building opportunities, with workshops conducted by internationally acclaimed professionals in the field, offering an insider’s view on the aesthetics, technology, and practices of the performing arts industry. This artistic strategy works hand in hand with our constant efforts to use an array of venues, leading up to the opening of the Xiqu Centre at the end of the year, Freespace in 2019, and the Lyric Theatre Complex in 2023.”
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
What Is Stage: From Text to Space, seminar with Jan Pappelbaum | West Kowloon, Hong Kong | Courtesy of WKCDA
Low Kee Hong, Head of Theatre, Performing Arts, WKCDA, underlines the curation of this year’s programme: “With the goal of nurturing talent and appreciation for the technical depth and ecology of theatre art, our programme in the West Kowloon Cultural District seeks to create deeper insights into what it takes to deliver a mature, quality theatrical production, by seeking inspiration from masters like Jan Pappelaum and Edward Lam. Our objective is to consolidate an integrated understanding of theatre and push the boundaries of the art form in terms of its creative and practical potential.”