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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Sezione Teatro EN (new)



11 > 15 October at 11:00 a.m.
Ca’ Giustinian - Sala delle Colonne
5 lectures on contemporary set design with:
  Jan Pappelbaum
(11th October)
  Jim Clayburgh (12th October)
  Margherita Palli (13th October)
  Nick Ormerod / Declan Donnellan (14th October)
  Anna Viebrock (15th October)
There are directors who in our minds form a working couple with their set designers, so strongly have the spaces designed and reinvented by these designers enhanced and sometimes determined their mise-en-scène.
So the name of Luca Ronconi, despite the number of artists, set designers and architects he has worked with throughout his lengthy career, is automatically associated with the name of Margherita Palli; his productions immediately evoke the bold “stage machines” created by this original architect, who grew out of the school of Gae Aulenti and was “lent” to the theatre, which she began to cultivate after working with Ronconi in 1984 in Racine’s “Fedra”.
A practically unbreakable bond exists between Christoph Marthaler and Anne Viebrock, the set designer and director, who was defined by Georg Diez in Die Zeit as the “poet of small things”, because of her capacity to transfigure the everyday dimension into surreal atmospheres, her tendency to subtract and subdue, building spaces from which life seems to have suddenly disappeared. The productions they have created together since the Nineties, such as Uccidi l’europeo! Uccidilo! Fallo fuori!, and their version of Goethe’s Faust, haveleft a significant mark on European theatre, and not just in German-speaking countries.
Like a distinguished manufacturing company, set designer Nick Ormerod and director Declan Donnellan have joined their names. Together, in 1981, the winner of a Lawrence Olivier in 1992 as set designer of the year and one of the most influential directors in Europe today founded one of Britain’s most beloved companies, Cheek by Jowl; together they created another company of Russian actors in Moscow; together they worked for the corps-de-ballet of the Bolshoi; and together they will come to Venice.
As an architecture student in 1995, Jan Pappelbaum met a group of young people who dabbled in theatre at the Weimer Art Festival; among them was Thomas Ostermeier, whom he would follow first to the Deutsches Theatre with Baracke and then to the Schaubühne am Lehniner Plaz in Berlin. He has been responsible for almost all of his productions, becoming the director of production at the Schaubühne Theatre. Jan Papplebaum has brought to Ostermeier his vision of an open architectural space, where the parterre and the stage are not clearly distinct, and the spectator is practically surrounded, assimilated into the production.
The name of American Jim Clayburgh is consistently linked to a cult New York theatre group of the Eighties, The Wooster Group, strongly influenced by film techniques, such as editing and the juxtaposition of fragments from various sources, and a significant use of images. Clayburgh is a member of its original nucleus, with director Elizabeth LeCompte and Spalding Gray; the group would later include Willem Dafoe, Peyton Smith, Kate Valk, Ron Vawter. After a lengthy experience with the American company, during which he was involved in almost all the group’s productions from 1976 to 1988, Clayburgh began to collaborate with the finest Belgian dance companies, from Rosas to Ultima Vez by Wim Vandkeybuus, from Pierre Droulers to Michèle Anne De Mey.

[ Download the Festival’s brochure in PDF ]