Scenography Commission







Scenography Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea


We were greeted at Incheon Airport and drove the one and a half hour trip into the densely populated city of Seoul.We found it surprisingly hilly, rather like San Francisco, surrounded by mountains. We arrived finally at the guest professor headquarters at Yon Sei University in the Seodaemun-gu area of Seoul. It is a very lovely and prestigious university, high a high hill overlooking the city of Seoul.

We were treated to nice single rooms with views of the colorful changing leaves of the season and best of all, private baths.

Incheon Airport

The first evening was a sumptuous Welcome Dinner at Sukran sponsored by the SPG, Seoul Project Group, Mr. Youn-Sik Kim, President; Koreatruss, Mr. Gi-Sik Bae, President; and Human Link, Mr. Nam-Gi jang, President. It was an ongoing feast with at least 20 different entrees.
The next morning, October 25th, The Scenography Commission was called to order at 10:10 AM by the Chair of the Commission, In-Suk Suh of Korea. The meeting was held in the Oak Room of the Yon Sei University Conference Center located in the hotel. In-Suk Suh graciously thanked all for coming. Most particularly he thanked Michael Ramsaur, USA, Chair of the Education Commission, who came to talk about Scenofest and answer any questions.


In-Suk Suh started off by apologizing to all for his last minute withdrawal from the meeting. He was faced with a strike at his organization and as the potential next Chief Executive Officer (CEO), his boss insisted that his place was at his work station. The strike was resolved and In-Suk Suh was appointed the CEO of the large film and television studio just outside of Seoul. This is a very prestigious position and for the first time it is held by an artist and designer. Mr. Suh has plans to turn the back-lot into "Film City," similar to "Universal Studios" or "Babelsburg" that have become tourist attractions.

The Former Scenography Chair, In-Suk Suh is showing off this new amphitheatre in the photo.


The main focus of the meeting was to create an interest in OISTAT among SouthEast Asian nations. All wished a large thank you to be extended to Rolando De Leon, Philippines, for his tireless work to create a very enjoyable Scenography Commission meeting in Manila and Costume Working Group Meeting in Davao City. They also wished to thank Joy Rago for her special charm and endless co-ordination of all of the comings and goings.

Following this we toured a magnificent outdoor theatre on the campus on the way to lunch. It is amphitheatre style overlooking the city.


We were introduced by the President of the Korean Center of OISTAT, Mr. Jeong-Hyun Yang, who thanked everyone for coming to the land of Morning Calm. SungChul Kim gave a brief introduction to OISTAT highlighting the meeting in Serbia and Montenegro and the Philippines Scenography Meeting. He featured the beautiful theatrical designs at the Exhibit of Theatre Design at the Metropolitan Museum in Manila. You can view the exhibit on the Philippines webpage of the Costume Working Group Website.

Michael Ramsur, USA, Education Commission, gave a lengthy presentation on the PQ, clarifying the event for the students. It was very helpful in clearing up questions. He mentioned that there are 50 professional exhibits and 35 schools exhibits , an architecture competition and The Heart of PQ, that is planned to be an interactive sensory exhibit. He stressed that the exhibits would demonstrate: Great Partnerships (between people and between countries), as well as Design Excellence. He pointed out that there would be a number of workshops aimed at students. Also there will be Tours of the Exhibit with participating artists, Prague Theatre experiences with backstage tours. Tours to Czesky Krumlov and the 18th century wooden theatre will be arranged on the 14th and the 18th of June. There will also be trips to Brno in Slovakia. There will be help provided with housing, but people should call as soon as possible and register in advance.

There will be special student exhibits including: A Lear For Our Times,4 - 6 Trans-National exhibits, A Parade of Characters on costumed mannequins traversing the floor of the exhibit, and 8 Performance Art Exhibits. There will be hands on lighting design available with a quarter scale theatre and Sound Design exhibits. Soundscape workshops will be run by Horst Richles of the Netherlands and Czech Composer, Vladimir Franz. OISTAT Scenofest registrations should be addressed to Michael Ramsur at Ramsur@stanford.edu

Registration is due by January 2003.
More information at: http://www.OISTAT.nl/scenofest

Tali Itzhaki from Israel, gave a very moving presentation about trying to teach theatre and continue with performances in her war stricken land. She talked about the number of Arab students mixed into the classroom. The most tragic of all are the Arab Christians. She focused on her experiences at Haifa University during these times. She talked about the inconveniences and the terror when people do not show up.
They lost their TD and 2 other students for "Romeo and Juliet" when there was talk of war and the reserve troops were called up. She was saddened by the lack of press time devoted to those who live together and those who work for peace. She was very sure to stress that in the theatre the Jews and the Arabs are working side by side. There are photos of this production on the Israel webpage of the Costume Working Group Website. See Israel link

We finished with several questions and a meeting of old friends and new designers.

At 6pm, we were treated to a production by the SADARI Theatre Company, roughly translated to the LADDER Company, combined with the SADARI Movement Laboratory, and the SADARI Creative Drama Laboratory for Children at the Dongnang Art Center. The production titled, "Between Two Gates," told the story of a Korean soldier who dies in WWII fighting the Japanese and his spiritual journey home. The work was very visual and filled with interesting technology. The last image is when he finally reaches back to his wife/mother who is trapped by bad spirits. Like a puppet she is held captive by six intersecting poles in the hands of six actors. These same poles were the symbols of war and power in the beginning of the production. They stood magically with magnetic plates in the floor. The director trained in Paris at the Le Coq Institute and produced an extremely imagistic performance with his designer, Seung-Ho Jeong. The walls were made of strips of heavy canvas elastic about 3" wide. The spirits were able to slip in and out.

In one moment there were women who came to life inside of stiffened oversized paper kimonos that stood like sculpture on the stage. The women seemed to peer out from the kimono cocoons and then they turned and walked to the wall and slipped through it as their costumes floated up the wall.

SADARI Theatre Company, roughly translated to the LADDER Company

Seung-HoJeong's "Between"

Click for more images from this performance

This was followed by a banquet at Samchung-Gak given by one of the founders of the Korean OISTAT Center, Ms. Sun-Hi Shin, now the Executive Director of the Seoul Performing Arts Center. After this we drove to the top of the mountain above Seoul to look out of the communication tower all covered with lights. We stayed on the ground since it was crowded but were very happy to see the view of the city from the top of the mountain.

We spent the afternoon with a ride to the antique district, In Sa Dom. We had a reservation for lunch at 1:30 in a beautifully restored Korean House, Solga (The House of the Pine Tree) from the 18th century. The dinner was once again excellent and we sat at a low table served by young women in traditional dress.

After this was free time to shop or watch a traditional tea ceremony. The stores in the antique district specialize in antique lacquer chests, pottery of all shapes and sizes, masks, beautiful brushes and traditional rice papers, but also traditional clothing.

During the New Year celebration, it is traditional to wear ethnic dress. The shops in this area specialize in beautifully designed contemporary clothing built in the traditional style,of exquisite silks in all range of subtle color combinations.


We went on to the restored Namsangol Hanok Village from the end of the 19th century. We enjoyed sight seeing around this village where the great Empress from the last century was raised as a girl. A very wealthy entrepreneur brought her house and several others from the same time period together at this site in Seoul.

The houses are one story with wooden pillars resting on cornerstones and covered by a gently curving tiled roof. The homes are wood and thick parchment to keep out the wind. These houses are placed upon a plinth of mortar and stones that have little caves in them to build fires. The under-floor heating system is made by laying flat stones on lead pipes in order to preserve the heat. The lead pipes are covered with mud and thick oily papers to keep them cosy and warm. In this ingenious way they warm the floors of the buildings. It makes sense that so much of the activity would stay close to the ground. We all wondered how they managed to keep the buildings from fire.
The second day of the Scenography Commission meeting was called to order by In-Suk Suh at 11:10 on October 26, 2002. We met at the conference room of the Tower Hotel high up in Namsan Park on the sides of Jung-gu mountain overlooking Seoul and right next to the National Theatre of Korea. The view was colorful with all of the changing leaves and the late breakfast was sumptuous in American style.

The photo features (L - R) Michael Ramsaur, Chair Education Commission, USA; Miodrag Tabacki, first Vice-Chair Scenography Commission, Serbia and Montenegro; Taurus Wah, Hong Kong; Kazue Hatano, Japan; In-Suk Suh, Scenography Commission; Austin Wang, second vice chair of the Scenography Commission; Laura Crow, Chair of the Costume Working Group, USA; Avraham Oz, Israil; Tali Itzhaki, Israel; Sunniva Thelestam, Sweden; Richard Thomas, Sound Working Group Chair, USA.


Seoul hosted this meeting when China was unable to reschedule their invitation from 2001. The Scenography Commission thanked them for their generosity.

The Scenography Commission has offers to host meetings from several countries for upcoming years:
-USA in Minneapolis in March of 2003
-Czech Republic for June 2003 - at members' own expense at the PQ
-Taiwan for 2003
-Sweden for summer of 2004, with Baltic States Light Working Group
-Cuba for summer of 2004 - at members' own expense arranged around Carnival, late July.
-China for a different time?
-Toronto for March of 2005 with the World Stage Design Exhibition.

It was decided to request that the Governing Board reverse its decision to host the Scenography Commission meetings in Minneapolis, and to accept the invitation from Taiwan for late in the calendar year of 2003, with an additional meeting in Prague. It was felt that many of the members of the commission would be very busy with Prague
preparations during the month of March 2003. Since most of the delegates plan to be in Prague at their own expense already, it is not appropriate to request funding from the PQ for the Scenography Commission Meeting.
The PQ opens on Thursday June 12. The Scenography Commission will have a meeting on Sunday afternoon June 15th from 1 PM - 5 PM.

There will be Costume Working Group workshops hosted by the Scenography Commission in Prague. The success of the workshop in Davao City, Philippines has created an interest to do another Charette, but with a different theme. Member countries will be encouraged to bring indigenous fabrics from their home countries as well as found objects. They will be encouraged to include recycled objects. The meetings will be held on Monday and Tuesday June 16 + 17. Taiwan has offered to move their meeting to late in the calendar year of 2003 and the Commission requested that the Governing Board accept this proposal. It is hoped that this will be a joint session with the Education Commission.

Lastly, we encouraged the Governing Board to accept Sweden's offer to host a Scenography Commission Meeting with the Baltic States for summer of 2004. The focus will be on light and will be including a Light Working Group Session. Rick Thomas, USA, has an expression of interest from Finland to host a Sound Working Group Session and will encourage that meeting to be combined with the Baltic States and Sweden during similar dates. The new Chair of Scenography will send the recommendation to the Governing Board. The New Chair can plan a scenography forum planned for PQ, and incorporate a dinner plus one day of meetings.


SungChul Kim read the rules of the procedure.
In-Suk Suh, KOREA. Korea has a long history of 34 years of participation in the Scenography Commission. The fact that we started with 6-7 countries and now have 52 countries, proves the need for the organization. The latest accomplishment was in Prague 3 years ago with several new countries and new visions from the new members. The dinner in Prague, plus the meeting added new goals and new ideas that we have been acting on.

He stopped a moment to mourn the passing of two of the luminary founders of OISTAT and two great Scenographers: Josef Svoboda of the Czech Republic and John Bury of Great Britain. He hopes that we will not forget the inspired will of those two great and famous people.

Since 1998 when In-Suk Suh was elected chair, we have entertained proposals for additional membership in South and Central America, from Africa and from Asia. We have added in the concept of the Working Groups and they have begun to function. We have begun to send out information on a regular basis from the website and keep in touch with our members by email. We have been attempting to solve copyright problems for publications about the Prague Quadrennial to display the work on the World Wide Web. We have had successful Scenography Commission meetings in Prague, Czech Republic; Antwerp, Belgium; Santiago, Cuba and Bregenz, Austria.

In Suk Suh is re-elected. He will do his best to discover new members from new countries. Please help him by giving names of people to contact to Karin Winkelssesser. Brazil, Cuba, South Africa, and Australia are very important. Please co-operate with the work by other Commission members. He is counting on the help of everyone.


-Laura Crow, USA, called for suggestions for anyone who knows artists who are in imminent danger. There is a Scholarship plus International Asylum for one year in the USA to be affiliated with an institution of higher education. Anyone with news please contact her at: Laura.crow@uconn.edu

-Laura read a note from Peter Ruthven Hall of Great Britain. They have just opened a major exhibition of British Scenography in 2-D and 3-D format for theatre and performance art. Organized by the Society of British Theatre Designers, it displays the work of over 150 designers, including Ralph Koltai, Pamela Howard and Richard Hudson. If you plan a trip to the UK before 12 January 2003, try to attend. It is held at the New Millennium Galleries in Sheffield, just 2 hours from London by train.
Contact Peter Ruthven Hall for directions at: RuthvenH@aol.com

-Simona Rybakova, Czech Republic. By letter, Ms Rybakova asked to remind everyone of the guidelines to prepare for each Commission Meeting.
1-An exhibition of small simple sketches of work from each country
2-Prepare a venue for lecturing to students
3-Meeting students to comment on their work
4-Delegates could present their current work
5-Create a special project with the host country
6-Create a computer slide show of designs

-In-Suk Suh asked for donations to theatres in Prague from the flood.
Try to find Theatre Partners who can donate equipment if possible. He also asked to make sure that the documents from the Scenography Commission are sent to each hosting country well in advance.
-The PQ Web site will be changed from month to month. Please keep in contact with Mramsur@stanford.edu


SungChul Kim, Korea, reported a successful meeting in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro with the Publication and Communications Commission and the Governing Board of OISTAT. Present were two vice-chairs,SungChul Kim of Korea and John Mayberry of Canada and including a contingent of five representatives from China. Also in attendance was Michael Ramsur, the Chair of the Education Committee, to clarify items arising about the Prague Quadrennial.

SungChul Kim showed a slide show of the meetings in Belgrade, starting with views of the beautiful historic city. The meetings were held at the University of Art in Belgrade, the home base of Miodrag Tabacki. They were treated to a very effective production entitled "Scoop," at the Bojan Stupica Theatre, at the National Theatre and a tour of the Sugar Factory Theatre. It was created from an old sugar factory in Belgrade and contains multiple performance spaces and restaurants. A thank you was extended to Miodrag Tabacki for his gracious hosting.

The main action of the Governing Board at this meeting was to change the statutes to read, "representatives from an Organization of members," and not "representatives from a National Center," will consitute an official OISTAT Center. In future an organization of 10 or more members equals 1 vote. Individuals may also participate when it is not possible to obtain a quorum of 10 members. As individuals, the membership is $50(EU) in hopes that the small number will soon grow to 10 members. After that, the 10 or more member organization will pay a sum of $500(EU) to maintain membership. We have three new member Countries based on this new ruling. They are: Kubalacik from Australia, Zahir from Bangladesh and Percin from Turkey. The Governing Board encouraged the participation of Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as the Chinese delegation.

The Governing Board encourages all members to get out the word about individual memberships as a way to stimulate organizational memberships. Karin Winkelssesser, of the German OISTAT office, will help with the paperwork for new members if information is sent to her.

The Governing Board is encouraging all Commissions to pay their own way at the PQ due to the devastation created by the flood in Prague. They encourage all members to get their constituents to participate in the much needed flood relief. Each organization should encourage members to give generously to the fund to save the theatres in Prague through the "Theatre Under Water" campaign. They also encourage anyone who has influence with a particular theatre to encourage one-
on-one contributions by one theatre to a sister theatre in Prague. Equipment is the main thing that is badly needed.


Sound makes the third working group.

We now have a Costume Working Group, Headed by Laura Crow (USA);a Lighting Working Group, headed by
Henk Van derGest (Netherlands); and a Sound Working Group, headed by Richard Thomas (USA).


http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~zounds/London (site is down as of January 2008)
This is the new website of the Sound Design Working Group. The complete minutes of the first meeting in London is fully covered on the website.

Richard Thomas gave a report on the first Sound Working Group meeting in London, England. It was hosted by the Technology Commission and met from June 12 - 15, 2002, before the Commission Meeting. There are now 100 members on the mailing list representing 20-25 countries. There is a great deal of interest in the Internationalizatoin of Sound Design.
Many thanks to Greg Fisher of the Royal National Theatre and Ross Brown from the Central School of Arts and Crafts for a great inaugural meeting.

Current activities include preparations for the inclusion of Sound Design at the 2003 Prague Quadrennial. The Sound Working Group is preparing a series of special presentations for the PQ Scenofest, and a special exhibition of sound scores from around the world.
Please send inquiries to - zounds@purdue.edu

Michael Ramsur reported for Henk Van der Gest who was not able to attend.
Kimmo Karjunen and Markku Uimonen, Lighting Designers from Finland will host a meeting along with the Baltic States in the summer of 2004 in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Henk Van der Gest from the Netherlands will bring a 1/4 scale theatre with working lights for students and designers alike to work out lighting designs at the Prague Quadrennial. There will be a meeting of the Lighting Design Working Group scheduled in Prague during the time of the Prague Quadrennial.
Laura Crow reported on the very successful meeting of the Costume Design Working Group in Davao City on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Hosted by Rolando de Leon, there was a shared meeting with the South East Asian Weavers Association, The Fashion Designers Guild of Davao and the OISTAT Costume Working Group. For photos and minutes click here
The meeting was formally closed at 1pm.
A Farewell Dinner was hosted at the Namsang traditional Korea House by In-Suk Suh. It was again delicious food with a lot of high alcoholic content rice wine. In-Suk Suh thoughtfully gave everyone a gift of a fine Korean tea cup with lid. They are very beautiful and all are thankful to In-Suk Suh and SungChul Kim for hosting such a wonderful meeting. A good time was had by all. We returned to the Faculty Hotel just in time to see the fireworks celebrating the Seoul naming day. It was the perfect climax.
After we were thoroughly warmed by toasts and farewells with wine and Bailey's Irish Cream, we set out again for night shopping in the Dongdaemun Market in the heart of the old city. The wholesalers were just setting out their goods at midnight and by 2am they were in full swing.

More “shiny things” were bought and SungChul Kim treated us all to finely cut brass bookmarks as a remembrance of our time in Korea. There are thousands of glittering objects in the night along with more pragmatic goods. The bustle and energy are very exciting and alive. It was a great place to do some Christmas shopping.

Those who stayed were treated to trips to In-Suk Suh's KBS DramaCenter and the television studio's back-lot. Several others went with SungChul Kim to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. It is currently the most fortified border on earth.