Theatre and Performance Design Share your Research on Bauhaus 100

Theatre and Performance Design

Theatre and Performance Design is seeking submissions for a special issue: Bauhaus 100 (Summer 2019; Vol. 5 No. 2). This special issue, guest edited by Melissa Trimingham, invites scholars and practitioners to engage with the legacy of the Bauhaus in expanded practices of theatre and performance design.

It is 100 years since the founding by architect Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus school of design in Weimar Germany in 1919. In 2019, we ask, what does Bauhaus, arguably the cradle of Modernism, say to us today? What were their ideals of cultural, social and aesthetic renewal, and how might they be realised today? In keeping with the Bauhaus as an institution that worked across the art forms, and had the stage at its ‘beating heart’ (Schlemmer), we invite contributions from practitioners and scholars not only from theatre design and scenography, including costume, lighting and sound, but also other related disciplines. These could include but are not limited to: puppetry and Figuren Theater, contemporary dance, digital design, industrial design, architecture, multi-media practices, robotics and pedagogy.

Tut Schlemmer, widow of Oskar Schlemmer, Director of the Stage Workshop at the Bauhaus, described the Bauhaus after its dissolution in 1933 as a ‘living force’ and because of its birth in Weimar Germany at a time of revolution and change, it was and is inextricably linked to ideas of democracy and socialism. The Bauhaus image was, ironically, ‘cleaned up’ by Gropius in America after the war to present an acceptable face of Modernism, and as a result there have been arguments aplenty about the Bauhaus legacy and negative assessments of its impact. This includes 20th century brutalist architectural structures, its misogynist legacies in design and architecture practices, and the Bauhaus as ominous precursor to a dehumanizing Nazism that followed it.

On the other hand scholars have also seen in Bauhaus ideas, and especially in its stage work, a struggle to hang on to utopian ideals in the face of philistinism, an insistence on the embodied understanding of abstract principles, and a linkage of ethical, social and cultural imperatives as vital to inform and guide us in the twenty-first century pedagogically, aesthetically, culturally, ethically and commercially. The Bauhaus placed embodied learning at the heart of its pedagogy and used aesthetic education as an ethical driver for social responsibility. The Bauhaus style in design today is ubiquitous, continually forming the world around us

.Questions that might be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Is the Bauhaus so (in)famous that it is now more a myth - impossible to unravel? Or do we continually remake the Bauhaus in our own image?
  • What contemporary frameworks of analysis most resonate with the Bauhaus and Bauhaus stage today? Phenomenology, New Materialism, cognitive approaches?
  • What and where is the female legacy of the Bauhaus?
  • What can we take from Bauhaus pedagogy on stage and off, for example their stress on the importance of ‘serious play’?
  • Do their practices speak to our current attempts to work in cross disciplinary ways?
  • Is their mission to join art and technology paralleled in the best current digital design and digital stage practices?
  • Does the art and technology gap in the early twentieth century parallel the contemporary art and science divide?

We invite practitioners and scholars of theatre, theatre design and related practices to engage with possible legacies of the Bauhaus, to use as Alain Findeli put it nearly thirty years ago ‘its principles as a point of departure for future explorations and endeavours’.

Submission Instructions

Deadline for 300 word abstracts or proposals for visual essays September 3rd 2018.

Email abstracts and proposals to Editorial Associate Nick Tatchell: