As Walter Benjamin once noted, cityscapes have become an archive of cultural memory and a space for action. Theatre buildings are no longer central to the issue of theatre and community, as now the performance has “spread to other spaces such as factories, warehouses, churches, and soccer stadiums”. “These performance sites raise a new critical issue: how can an architect transform a building into a scenography – a dynamic space that generates a narrative of performances – and how can a building stage community?” I would in turn like to ask how the city and/or the street be transformed into a scenography?
As for the creation of the community, I propose to develop the neighborhood of Beyoglu, specifically Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul, into an urban stage set, where the dead space of the Emek Cinema is embodied through characters that roam the city and create new situations, new accidents, and at times disruptive performances. These characters are for the most part not actors, in the traditional sense of the word, but structural and mechanical agents that once were immobile infrastructural components of a site, which no longer exists.
Each one of these masks wanders through the city, and embeds itself into other dilapidated or contemporary structures, on the constant adventure to survive and challenge the daily rituals of Istanbul, and the city’s inhabitants and visitors. The history of the site is embedded within them, inherently, yet they are forced to now interact with everything outside of the black box, which is rapidly becoming redundant in the world of the performing arts.
We are left with a theatre of participation, which forces the voyeur out of his privileged position of safety, to become an active agent, through the re-animation of the street, the subversion of institutional scripts, and a renewed awareness of gentrification.
in Punchdrunk's immersive play, Sleep No More
An interactive multi-media event where audience and actors converse via non-synchronised audio and video in two separate rooms. The design of the space was inspired by Cedric Price's / Snowdon Aviary, and built for the Performance & the City Symposium.
A cast of performers engage in a series of increasingly absurd acts, relayed live in the AA bar. The piece was adapted from Pina Bausch's 1980 / Ein Stueck. The development of the plot gradually prompted audience to seek the play out.