Pacifics valuable tour assets for MAU at the Prague Quadrennial

The Prague Quadrennial - International Exhibition of Scenography and Theatre Architecture sees 50 nations from 5 continents exhibit the work of their theatre designers.

In 2005 an experimental event was introduced - The Heart of the PQ. This experiment brought together theatre artists from across the globe as far as Russia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Japan, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. In Prague, in June this year, they created a giant interactive sceno-architectural installation; "a labyrinth of performance spaces and a theatre laboratory for researching the five human senses".

For the light designers the project was challenging. The site for The Heart of the PQ was the vast Middle Hall of the Industrial Palace, Prague, which is 50% glass and infused with summer daylight between 4.30am and 10.30pm. After dark, sodium light flared through the north windows and fireworks through the south. Design and all scheduling became collaboration with the sun and all incidental lighting. Rehearsals took place between 11pm and 4.30am, sometimes with more than one group competing for light and sound space.

Some artists chose to inhabit enclosed spaces. The Threshold Wall, however, as the entrance way to the event was open-ended; a monumental façade of galleries and compartments scantily clad with tinted plastic and little defence from the daylight. 17 metres long by 8 metres high and 3 metres deep, this structure was curated by Lemi Ponifasio and Helen Todd and the Pacific performance ensemble MAU.

As an entry point and as an exploration of the sense of smell, the Threshold Wall was a contemplative space where smell was sensed as a carrier of memory and as a metaphor for the transient life of the body. The Wall was a depository of decomposable matter and memory vessels; weavings, hair, grass, Tapa and performing and sleeping bodies.

As with all the sensory installations, light played a part even through the daytime program. Selecon Pacific MSR fittings were used to evoke a removed reality within the semi-sunlit, plastic filtered cavities. The discharge beam was able to cut through the diffused daylight creating some hyper-accentuation of the spaces and objects within the Wall.

Adding a touch of warmth against the discharge and the daylight were Selecon halogen Aureol Fresco Floods. Within the installation, the tiny Frescos were easily mounted and added a smart detail to the architecture. At close range they covered large expanses and gave more than ample illumination and a soft contrast to the sharp accent of the Pacific MSR.

The Selecon Pacifics were valuable touring fittings with their capacity to change lamp base and lens tube. These were installed in the Threshold Wall but were remounted for the evening performance. After dark, all project light designers were able to transform the installation. MAU performed the work Haka, using the Selecon Pacific Dowser for a slow, smooth reveal of the MSR x-ray beam which projected the distinct reflection of a water stage on the ceiling at 25 metres. Sliced by light from Pacific MSR and Pacific halogen zoom spots the "landscape of the senses" could take on new perspectives from its overexposed day-lit appearance.


Credits

Festival Prague Quadrennial
Ensemble MAU
Director Lemi Ponifasio
Lighting Designer Helen Todd

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