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The WSD2017 Experience

What’s New
Poster:Secretariat OfficePost date:2017-07-29
No. of visits:20

Midway through the semester I decided to delay my summer vacation plans, because a renowned event was going to take place at TNUA – WSD2017 (World Stage Design).

According to OISTAT (International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians) WSD, as it is usually referred to, is an exhibition of international performance design from the world of opera, theatre and dance, as well as public performances and performance art installations from non-theatre spaces. It was launched in 2005 and since then it has been held every four years in different cities, traveling around the world with a different country as a host every single time. From cities like Toronto, Canada (2005) to Seoul, South Korea (2009), the previous WSD2013 was held in Cardiff, Wales, the United Kingdom. This year, it was not only Taiwan’s turn to held this world-class event; it was my University that was hosting it jointly with TATT (Taiwan Association of Theatre Technology). I was so excited and thrilled, because from July 1 to 9, worldwide theatre designs were going to be shared in one space, and so close to where I live.

As an international student, from a country whose resources are not focused on art investment, I was amazed when I first heard about the career of Set and Stage Design at TNUA. Considering in my country there is barely one or two known set designers who can accomplish most of the stage design work (if needed), I realized there was another world I wasn't aware of. Realizing the tremendous opportunity that was presenting itself to me, I checked if volunteers were still needed, because I had to sign in. And I became part of the Staff Team.

June came by, and we started to receive information about Taiwan’s general living aspects, from weather to transportation and shopping, so that everyone could prepare themselves. Not only artists were traveling from all over the world for this competition; many volunteers enrolled were also coming by their own means from abroad to assist and participate in such an experience.

On June 27, (the first day of our training as volunteers) we arrived at what might have well been described as a United Nations meeting, sitting down with a diverse staff group and receiving the welcoming lecture, our deep pink T-shirts to work and our ID badges.

For the next couple of days before July 1 (the day of the opening) I was assigned to help the exhibitions team at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition was going to feature 180 design finalists selected from more than 600 entries across 52 countries. Here I started to meet my fellow staff colleagues and overall we were in charge with welcoming, receiving and helping the artists build their installations for the competition at the museum, helping out with the setting up of the booths and the book store.

The opening day was a rainy one, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm. The museum was all ready with the works of new aspiring and professional designers to inspire artistic new forms from the best of the theatre world. Needless to say, though wet, it turned out to be a successful evening.

After that, throughout the whole experience, the volunteers were given the opportunity to meet, assist and collaborate with the artists in several forms around all the activities taking place on campus. A production team of volunteers had also been assisting with the making and realization of the lectures, seminars, plays, exhibitions, experimental and performing arts work that we had from the July 1 to 9 around the different theaters and designed spaces in the different department buildings of the university.

I was networking with people from so many different cultures and countries that it was thrilling and unbelievable how easy it was. Our campus had a snack bar temporarily set up to throughout the event, allowing people to mingle after a couple of beers in the space next to the OK. For most volunteers, in the path and career field of stage design, they came to participate as an overseas internship. As a token of appreciation from WSD, we received daily allowances, which was great. Asides from the known restaurants on campus, a couple of food and dessert trucks were parked in front of the Museum, expanding the variety of options. The campus during the WSD days seemed to have this atmosphere where new friendships were made, creative alliances were formed, and artistic and cultural exchange was shared through experience at every corner.

And a sharing experience this was. Among those amazed by the vastness of the campus and its dedication solely to the arts was Jorge, an audio designer from Mexico. He was invited to participate in the WSD for a sound design performance. His amazement arose from the great importance and respect well placed in art education here at TNUA, whose campus could impress any foreigners and leave many of them wondering what was happening in their own countries. He, who is also a theatre, film and television writer, found the whole experience and Taiwan – as the hosts of the event and its people in general – incredible. “These are brilliant people that love theatre, want to take it forward and help others with their practice by transmitting valuable ideas,” he said about the WSD. Having the tremendous opportunity to meet people in the field, exchange contacts and make new friends for possible future collaboration, he felt Taiwan’s culture was overwhelming in generosity. He definitely wants to come back.

This experience exchange among professionals and upcoming artists in the field was also something Tineé and Laura, encountered. Laura is originally from the south of Spain and has lived in four different countries. She came invited by her professor who is one of the WSD founders and who wanted to repeat a show they had done years previously. Currently living in the United States, she was working with a team of engineers to create an experience at the WSD: the Sound Kitchen. As one of the artists at the event, she also felt everyone was willing to help one another. As a teacher in United States, she encourages her students all the time to go abroad and experience different cultures, different ways of life and different ways of seeing things. She believes you can always fall in love with something, take it with you in your personal memory bag and learn something new from it: “We are all different because we have so much in common.”

Tineé, on the other hand, flew from South Korea to volunteer for the event, but she is Canadian and her parents are from Jamaica. She is currently living in South Korea and teaches English and Photoshop to elementary school children. She studied Theatre Production Design, mostly set and costume, at the university. Mara from Egypt – one of the artists that exhibited – was Tineé’s roommate throughout the WSD. She sort of became a mentor for Tineé, advising her on how to refocus in the theatre field.

Another inspiring volunteer was Calen, from Sao Paulo Brazil, who is only 16 years old and still in high school. She was involved in helping with the documentation group for communication and photography purposes. She carried several social media accounts, one of them being the official Instagram account for WSD2017. By coming here with her mom, who works in theatre design and had an exhibition at the WSD, Calen saw this as an opportunity for new designers to emerge. “It’s a great place to know people. It gives younger designers in the field the chance to keep in touch and merge with more experienced artists without the normal hierarchy,” she noted. She has also been to the 2011 and 2015 Prague Quadrennial, and believes this opportunity the WSD brings keeps the theatre community, although small, together as a family by promoting the exchange of contacts, experiences, cultures, places and knowledge.

Art unites. And so is the case of Kuo Yu-hsuan, a Taiwanese volunteer that works with drama for early childhood. Enchanted by new and experimental forms of theatre, where the audience is directly immersed interacting with the production, she would like to enhance Taiwanese participation in theatre and drama by encouraging the Taiwanese community to know that great things are happening at TNUA and that set and stage design around the world carries tremendous meaning in theatre. “It’s a very small community interested here in Taiwan, but we have the potential to keep making it better and better,” she stressed.

And as for me, after all the incredible experiences I couldn’t be any more grateful for having such an opportunity here at TNUA.

Written by  Jeanette Cedeño
Last modification time:2017-10-02 PM 2:43

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