(tragic) Performance 2016-17

Adversity is a vital spark for critical debate to inform change, where performance of theatre, music, dance, circus, opera and cinema provide an essential forum for critique, experiment, collective catharsis, and beacon of hope, while reflecting environmental, physical, social, political, mythical and historic contexts.

In ancient Greece the classic forms of Tragedy, Comedy and Satyr emerged as recognised forms of social and cultural comment as early as 600BC, and so it is no surprise that in response to it’s economic and migration crises, the Greek government has just opened a new National Opera and Library in Athens designed by Renzo Piano; providing a new platform for social critique, dialogue between the ancient and contemporary city, and hoping to stimulate urban regeneration. But without enthusiastic community involvement and directly addressing the context of crisis, can any architectural intervention avoid becoming the next Greek ruin?

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This year Unit G continues to explore the process and craft of performing, staging and hosting performing arts, and the spatial and conceptual relationship between performers, makers, audience, time, script and place, to inform an architecture intrinsically linked to the choreography of place and people; the repetition of rehearsal; the fantasy of performance; and inter-connection between on-stage performance and tragic/comic/satirical daily reality.

Our year starts in the holistic historic context of Oxford to engage in the temporal relationship between seasonal performance and place, before our field trip to Athens and Delphi in November. There our main site will be amongst the composite, fragmented ruins dug from beneath the contemporary village and community of Castri, now relocated next door.

The projects will directly engage with place, community, festivals, celebration, seasonal change and the daily drudge of reality to test the architectural, cultural and social possibilities of radical intervention within revered historic contexts, enjoying the tension between old and new, permanent and transitory, traditional and revolutionary. You will need to take a position, but your route will be as important as the destination, the process enriching every outcome: this is the start of a journey.

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