MA Programme Scenography

Here they are: the Class of 2024 of the Ma Programme Scenography, at HKU Theatre, in Utrecht

Prague Quadrennial 2023
A large open space, which used to be a horse-riding hall (belonging to a wealthy Czech), became the environment for a performance of light. An immersive, sensorial journey, that engaged with visitors through the interplay of light, space, sound, movement and the human senses.

This is where it all came together, at the end of the first year of the Master Scenography. The five master students lived together in Prague for three weeks and created something no one expected beforehand. A big part of the process was discussing, experimenting, and complementing each other. They trusted each other and each other’s expertise and in doing so the performance MOST! come into being. Together they managed to perform sunlight.

‘That was truly a sublime moment.’

All about asking questions
Each master student started with their own research question, but very quickly the students jumped into the unknown and discovered all kinds of ways of making art and doing research. ‘Okay, let’s stop doing what I already know. Let’s experiment with everything my gut is leading me to.’ The questions they started with, have transformed into different ones, as well as their making practices have done. They were constantly challenged to think about new questions on art, society, culture, ‘all of these topics that you normally might see in a play, but you’re not actively involved in exploring those things. And in this, kind of research-community, it’s really nice that you keep involving in your way of thinking.’

For example, in their ways of thinking about the question: what is a performer? ‘Because we have such different cultural and disciplinal perspectives, what a performer means is different for each and every one of us.’ For some it’s the (human) spectator or a group, for the other it is light, nature, sounds, a thought, or shapes.

The community
The students come from all over the world, previously worked with VR, as designers for exhibitions, graduated in industrial design, time-based design or landscape architecture. ‘Usually, you change to fit in the society you want to be part of, but here I think we all kind of blended into each other.’ The cultural and social exchange within the master was an important part of their artistic development. Are you getting stuck in your maquette, thinking about a roof? Maybe there is someone in the studio (which they share with the first-year students) who has studied architecture.

Because they were a small group, they felt a lot of responsibility for each other. In the first year, they attended many performances together and had a communal lunch every Thursday. It also helped that they were very active. For example, they went wadlopen with their teacher (mudflat hiking) in Friesland or felt the desire to organize excursions themselves, to places they found worth exploring together.

A moment in time
The first year was all about exploring, this last period is about combining. Most of them are still in the process of combining the thoughts of what they learned and what scenography means to them. For their final research documents, they explore emphasizing mundane things: Indian crafts, creative methods in a collaborative context, liminal spaces and states, and how to create wonder with the environment as (co-)performer.

This graduation is not an ending for this group, nor does it seem like a beginning. It’s a moment in time. For each question, another unexpected new one may follow. You never know where your gut will take you. Maybe to wadlopen in Friesland?

This is the class of 2024
Audrey Catena, Cezara Gurău, Rhea Susan John, Robin Krijgsman, Tjardo Stellingwerf


Interview: Lena Plantinga
Photography: Cemre Birman

Audrey Cantena
Cezara Gurău
Rhea Susan John
Robin Krijgsman
Tjardo Stellingwerf