Performing Arts Library hosts interactive exhibit

Conor Battles

Kent State students will have an opportunity to explore the latest trends in American theatre design through a newly opened interactive exhibit at the Performing Arts Library.

“Vortex of our Dreams: American Theatre Performance Design at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial” is an experimental showcase of some of regional American theatre’s most interesting or unconventional design work, ranging from elaborate stage sets to unusual costumes.

“This exhibit shows designs by non-Broadway designers,”  Tammy Honesty a theatre professor said. “Past exhibits were all about Broadway, but this one is more focused on regional theatre around the country.”

Honesty is a member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and worked with the organization to bring a traveling version of the exhibit to Kent State.

The miniaturized exhibit consists of seven iPads preloaded with interactive photos and videos displaying the various items within the 20-foot structure displayed in Prague, as well as supplementary posters and handouts with additional context and information behind each piece.

The Prague Quadrennial is an international exhibition of performance design, held every four years since its inception in 1967 as a program for artists in Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc countries to have a chance to experience trends in Western performance design. The theme for “Vortex of our Dreams” came as a result of one of the Quadrennial’s prompts for 2015 exhibits — weather.

“[The Quadrennial] is kind of like the Olympics of theatre and performing arts,” Honesty said. “There are over 75 countries who participate by having exhibits.”

In bringing this exhibit to the Performing Arts Library, Honesty and the library aim to highlight the creativity and artistry of regional theatre and production design.

“I spent from last spring until midway through the fall trying to find a place on campus to host it,” Honesty said. “Finally, I ended up at the Performing Arts Library, and from that point on it was so much easier.”

The library held a grand opening for the exhibit on Jan. 23, drawing a sizable crowd of interested students and faculty members.

“I hope it increases awareness of design and aspects of art and technology that have gone into a lot of these productions,” librarian and professor Amanda Evans said. “Theatre is about more than what you see onstage.”

Evans said it takes roughly 70 minutes for visitors to experience the exhibit in its entirety. In addition to the interactive media on the iPads, there is a series of posters in the library with scannable QR codes that provide additional information about given costumes, sets or other items in the gallery.

“I want to inspire our students, and even our faculty,” Honesty said. “It’s always great when you can go see a show, but having it right here, and having it for four months, it’s really awesome to be able to take advantage of that.”

Conor Battles is the CCI and libraries reporter. Contact him at [email protected]