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The Invisible Theatre

Part 1 Project 2010
Serena Lok Yee Tse
University of Nottingham, UK
This project is intended to raise the underachieving consciousness in everyday life. The consciousness of a person to their surroundings heightens dramatically when there is the existence of an audience. Through experiencing a place just as the performer, the audience discovers details of this place that were not revealed before; even if he/she is passing by every day. Performers’ stories are not so far away from our own stories and emotions, and are not so far away from our own experiences. Set in the Lace Market in Nottingham, the study envisages tunnels of peeps that perform multiple functions:

1. The invisible theatre is a continuation from the Nottingham Contemporary, acting as an important promenade that embraces the passers-by into the experience of performance. Through the language of thresholds originating from door transformations, the tight fit of anticipated threshold, shifting threshold, and delayed threshold together with the notion of peeping create the catalyst for contemporary performance. Framed openings in the building come into play when people walk up to them and “perform”.

2. The invisible theatre inhabits a dance school with two studios, a laboratory of movement and the secret theatre. The transformation begins as dance studios undergo the shift in function; the theatre unfolds itself into the landscape and expands its boundaries from hidden places to the streets. Performances question the ideas of what and where is the stage. The experience starts from concealing and its opposite and all the in-betweens.

3. The open access penetrating the theatre also serves as a circuit in a city with a strong acoustic experience of leaving the outside world behind and entering a building. The involvement pushes the act of observation and questioning. Everyday gestures have high value in movements. The tunnel of peep is layered with dense overlapping. Flexibility in structure allows spaces to flow into and out of each other. The inside and outside are directly spoken to.

The theory of the audience as performers is tested in the context of Nottingham.

Serena Lok Yee Tse

Working within a studio unit that emphasises and embraces the idea of spatial narratives, students are encouraged and expected to follow their own lines of enquiries into the city and develop through these and their method of working a very personal architectural vocabulary. Serena Tse’s work explored the city initially from a broad social and political context, and then through a language of thresholds a notion of ‘peeping’ in the city evolved.

Texts from Georges Perec, Louis Aragon and Italo Calvino were used as triggers. Video was used to explore and intensify meanings. Drawing was used to express and find a vocabulary.

Working within a very difficult context adjacent to the new Nottingham Contemporary and the existing raised tramway Serena has stitched the physical fabric and social ‘perfomative’ aspects of the city together by investigating how people move around the city and what do they see or how do they ‘perform’? The architectural project ‘The Invisible Theatre’ is the outcome of this exploration of thresholds, borders and boundaries and their meanings. Within the city who is the audience and who the performer?

The spatial sequencing and relationships both within and without were considered and above all the thresholds, these keepers of spaces, developed. These individual responses were then choreographed into a whole spatial narrative of the audience and the performers. Peeping here and peeping there.

Through the process of drawing and making Serena has developed a very personal method of working and drawing technique used initially to explore and then to represent ideas. The beguiling series of drawings and studies have produced an evocative and meaningful vocabulary that attempt to enrich the makings and workings of the city.

The beauty of this work is in the elegance and eloquence of the drawings and the spatial poetics of the constructed forms. Although rooted in the poetic nevertheless the outcome is both physically studied and very real giving a glimpse of the ‘City of Peeps’.

Tutors: David Short and Amanda Harmer with Hugh Avison and Matthew Strong

Mr David Short
Hugh Avison
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