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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Theatrics of Design

Compiled by TeamIAnD
Photography: Aljoša Rebolj and Numen/ForUse

scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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Shakespeare’s larger-than-life Elizabethan dramatics command an equally aesthetically-heightened scenography - a feat accomplished by Numen/For Use at the recent staging of King Lear in Athens…

Like all dramatic plays that work largely on the emotional quotient for the perfect build-up to the climax, director George Kimoulis’ King Lear staged in the central space of a former derelict industrial hall on the outskirts of Athens on April 16, 2015 brought forth an upsurge of emotion with the enveloping scenography by designers Numen/For Use.

scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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The group of three designers - Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković has been conceptualizing exceptional installations and scenographic elements that touch the human intellect beyond the ordinary. Their recent stage act for the Shakespearean masterpiece was a fairly complex, hand-stitched contraption made of “ordinary plastic foil usually used for protection at construction sites.”

scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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Their furniture concept for the dark theatrics included a coal-hued elongated wooden platform, and stark, black chairs akin to mantises “with a streak of cruelty in the waistline”. With a large part of Act 1 being enacted with the bench sprawled directly in front of the auditorium and upholding only a set of the strategically dispersed black chairs, the culmination of Act 1 sees a huge plastic foil sheet being extracted from underneath the platform and spread across the entire back of the stage, while instantly filling up with air from a set of inflating machines. 

scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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Once inflated, the supersized object morphs, shifts and curls, towering above the water-soaked platform like a suspended tsunami. Throughout Act 2, it serves as an acidic heathland, where Lear wanders through the thunderstorm in existential agony. It is further compounded to depict a living, flickering, sentient ocean of his eroding consciousness, plagued by flashbacks of memory, guilt and incipient madness. The slippery, leviathanic body convulses and ripples under the heavy rhythm of acting, creating the spiritual paysage for the king's inner breakdown and his final descent into insanity.

scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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scenography using plastic foil for King Lear by Numen/For Use
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The only challenge we faced was connecting the foil to the plastic; when the welding failed, we had to have the connecting seams hand-stitched to combat the enormous forces that the plastic balloon had to withstand, when the actors walked over it!” informs Sven.



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