UK Festival of Performance Design launches
Thursday, 2 March 2023
workshopThe entire programme is free to all and includes exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops (photo: Xristina Pena)
UK - On Saturday 25 February, the hello stranger UK Festival of Performance Design, curated by Dr Kathrine Sandys and Lucy Thornett, launched with its inaugural event at the Edinburgh College of Art.
The festival, which runs through to April, brings together a mix of artists and designers from 13 different regions and countries across the UK, in order to showcase the best in contemporary performance design. The entire programme is free to all and includes exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops, providing an exciting opportunity for members of the public from across the UK to engage with design, through locally curated and created installations and exhibitions on their own doorsteps.
The hello stranger series of events are led by a team of locally based designer-curators who have been tasked with activating public spaces within local theatres and other public-facing cultural venues. The events take stock of the last four years of performance design in the UK and pose important questions about where we are headed, with each looking at these wider cultural questions through a unique, regional lens.
In considering the future of practice, a key element of hello stranger focuses on sustainability, and sustainable practice is centred throughout the Festival with purpose-built event and exhibition spaces created from locally sourced re-claimed and re-purposed materials.
The UK Festival of Performance Design forms part of the hello stranger: national exhibition of performance design 2019 – 2023, which has been curated by Dr Kathrine Sandys (Head of Theatre Practice at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Lucy Thornett (senior lecturer at the University of the Arts), produced by the Society of British Theatre Designers.
Say the organisers, “As we emerge from the pandemic and face up to the climate crisis, legacies of inequality, global conflict and the increasing prevalence of digital technologies in our lives, we face a changed landscape for performance design and scenography. hello stranger welcomes designers, makers and audiences to grapple with these important questions and emphasises responsivity and openness in the context of a changing world. From February through April, these discussions will be facilitated locally and nationally, across the UK and beyond. Following this, hello stranger will represent the UK at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in June 2023.”
“We are honoured to be curating the SBTD’s quadrennial National Exhibition of Performance Design 2019-2023, at this point in history,” says Dr Katharine Sandys. “The impact of COVID-19, conflict, global economic shift, representational inequalities and the climate crisis on the live performance industry in the last four years has changed many ways in which performance designers and makers are now practising, through choice or circumstance.
“We felt a responsibility to acknowledge this paradigm shift by foregrounding the voice of the designers and makers, listening to how work has been realised (or not) in the last four years and looking to the future of our practice and industry.”
“One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the range of different people it brings together in conversation,” says Lucy Thornett. “This includes professional designer; industry partners and venues; other professionals such as makers, directors and producers; academics and researchers; students; and audiences. This will happen across the UK throughout the festival, opening out to an international conversation during the Prague Quadrennial. This plurality of voices is at the heart of hello stranger.”

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