The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space launched a special online edition of their PQ Studio: Common Design Project as a way of offering students who may have found their creative projects cancelled, in this unprecedented year, a chance to find artistic inspiration.
Two successful submissions from RWCMD Design for Performance students were amongst sixteen projects selected from design schools across the world.
‘In such bizarre and isolating times, this project allowed me to share ideas and create connections with likeminded people from all over the world. Something I would have never had the chance to do otherwise,’ said Josie Bellerby, MA Design for Performance. ‘It gave me the opportunity to channel my skills and creativity into a piece of work that was meaningful and helped me to process current world events.’
Josie was part of a collaborative entry from five RWCMD designers (Josie Bellerby, Emeline Beroud, Hannah Drumm, Joseph Loftin, Tomás Palmer) chosen by the jury as only four projects in the summer edition, soon to be exhibited in an online gallery launched at a conference devoted to Karel Čapek’s work.
Josie explained how they approached their project:
‘Our group was made up of five RWCMD designers from different backgrounds and specialisms, though we knew each other well, we hadn’t had the chance to co-design together. Navigating a remote working environment for the first time with five design brains was certainly a challenge but we all agreed that the project transformed how we approach design. It is unusual for designers to collaborate and we got unique insights into each other’s creative process. Working remotely meant we had to learn to be strict with structuring our workday, it turns out Zoom fatigue is real!’
‘I think it would be fair to say that as a group we really pushed ourselves, partly because we are all hugely passionate individuals and partly because we were so keen to focus on a project during lockdown. We have all spoken about how much we learnt working as a group and so it was wonderful to be chosen as finalists and to have recognition of the work we created together.’
One theatrical text was selected as the inspirational theme for the students to create their real and imaginary spaces, Karel Čapek’s The White Plague. Written 80 years ago, the play is set during a time of panic as a pandemic spread throughout the world – sound familiar?
‘The story of Karel Čapek’s, The White Plague is eerily resonant with the times we are currently living in. As a group we gave ourselves an extended R&D period and I found that talking through the play in such detail provided a sort of cathartic tonic to what was happening in the outside world. There was something interesting about dismantling a narrative with so many parallels with the present day, it almost made things feel more manageable.’
In the autumn edition, the jury selected RWCMD designer Flora Mealyou’s individual entry as one of twelve that will be introduced in more detail during over the next couple of months in an online gallery.
‘It was a privilege for my design to have been chosen alongside such creative and inspiring work. Being given the chance to present my ideas to an esteemed panel and get some fantastic feedback was an invaluable experience and it has given me confidence in my creative voice,’ said Flora, who is in her final year of the BA Design for Performance course.
‘The White Plague is a sobering reflection of present events in relation to both the pandemic and our political climate. After reading the play, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of foreboding and dread for our current situation. I was keen to reflect this visceral reaction in my work.’
‘I chose to ground my design in the 1930s/40s as this was around the time Čapek wrote the play. The fact that the play was written in 1937 was the most jarring aspect due to the fact it displays this repetition of history. As much as we like to believe we have drastically changed over the last 80 years. Unfortunately, qualities such as greed, power and self-interest often prevail against altruism and the greater good of humanity.’
RWCMD Director of Drama, Sean Crowley, sends enormous congratulations to all the students involved:
‘Our students work celebrated both the collaborative nature of our course with the group entry for the Summer semester and the dedication of a focused individual in the Autumn submission. The Design department are very proud of our students work and dedication to this project.’
‘The PQ Studio Common Design Project is a new project for RWCMD to enter, however the Design and Production department have a long history of working with the Prague Quadrennial since 2003.’
Congratulations also to RWCMD Design graduates Jean Chan and April Dalton for their outstanding window display designs, currently on show at the prestigious Fortnum & Mason department store London:
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RWCMD is a world leader in the training of designers for performance. The Design department offers immersive, hands-on practical training for students wanting to work across the theatre, event, film, and television industries.
View the work of this year’s Design for Performance graduates here, and find out more about our Design for Performance courses.