Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University

January 16 – March 1

Various times

How does theatre design in America reflect complex issues affecting the world today?

Explore this and more at From the Edge, the latest exhibition to open at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University.

Focusing on performance design produced in the US between 2007 and 2011, From the Edge features multimedia work by 170 scene, lighting, costume, sound and media designers, along with 40 directors and choreographers. The diverse collection mines a cross-section of issues that consumed American theatre makers during a particular four-year period in the US that spanned the Bush and Obama administrations.

The 37 bold productions on view were culled from some 370 works submitted to the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space as the USA Exposition. From Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s American Idiot to New Paradise Laboratories’ Fatebook to Joseph Papp Public Theater’s The Poor Itch, featured designs reflect uniquely American examinations of our country’s socio-political landscape during years often characterized by discordance and polarization.

Works include dynamic two-dimensional production design photographs, props, video featuring interviews and excerpts of 22 productions, audio of 16 productions and even an inflatable sculpture and costume created by the American artist, political satirist and performer Pat Oleszko. A wide range of performance is represented, including groundbreaking work from acclaimed companies such as 3LD, Builder’s Association, Bond Street Theatre, The Civilians, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Siti Theatre and The Wooster Group.

Visitors will experience work by international companies that feature American designers and also American companies who have worked with European designers. A range of subjects, events and issues are explored, including: the politics of eating, the emergence of black Lincoln images, performances of puppeteer Basil Twist and drag artist Joey Arias; the destruction of the planet; the devastation of 9/11 and hurricane Katrina; the role of religion in society; and challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Pushing the limits of how performance design is imagined today, the exhibition features seminal figures and long-standing ensembles of performance makers, along with cutting-edge emerging designers. Artistic director and lead curator for the USA National exhibition is Susan Tsu. The curatorial team also includes: Chris Barreca (scene design), Linda Cho (costume design), Allen Hahn (lighting design), Don Tindall (sound design) and Randy Gener (curatorial advisor).

On view through March 1st, From the Edge will also feature concerts by CMU’s Honors String Quartet, which will perform the music of Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854 – 1928).