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"Action, Scene, and Voice: 21st-Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig" Subject of Theatre Conference March 28-30

A theatre conference on “Action, Scene, and Voice: 21st-Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig” will be held Thursday, March 28, through Saturday, March 30 at Pomona College. Craig, an English modernist theatre practitioner, worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, and developed an influential body of theoretical writings.

Lori Belilove, artistic director of The Isadora Duncan Dance Company, will give the keynote presentation on Friday, March 29, in Bridges Hall of Music (150 E. Fourth St., Claremont). Theatre director Peter Sellars will deliver the keynote address on Saturday, March 30, in Seaver Theatre (300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont).

The conference is free, open to the public, and preregistration is required. To register, contact Cathy Seaman at: ccg@04747@pomona.edu.

Craig (1872-1966) was the editor and chief writer for the first international theatre magazine, The Mask. One of his most famous works is the 1911 essay The Art of the Theatre (later reprinted as On The Art of the Theatre), a dialogue between a playgoer and a stage director.

Craig believed that a director should approach a play with no preconceptions; and, controversially, Craig asserted that the director was “the true artist of the theatre,” suggesting that actors were no more important than marionettes. He argued that audiences go to the theatre to see, rather than hear, plays. Craig sought to capture “pure emotion” and “arrested development” in his productions, among them Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Ibsen’s The Vikings of Helgeland.

Craig was also highly regarded for his stage design and building, using neutral, mobile, non-representational, movable screens and innovative lighting. He concentrated on keeping his designs simple, so as to set-off the movements of the actors, and instead of traditional footlights, he lit the stage from above on ceilings.

The Philbrick Library in Claremont’s Honnold-Mudd Library’s Special Collections feature a trove of research materials on Craig. “An exceptionally interesting section of the collection is devoted to the English Victorian actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry and to Terry’s son Gordon Craig, one of the pioneers of modern theatrical design,” says Professor of Theatre Thomas Leabhart. “The Terry-Irving-Craig Collection is rich in manuscripts, letters, drawings, photographs, scrapbooks and annotated books, providing scholars with numerous sources for original research.”

The collection was donated by the Philbricks, both graduates of Pomona College, in 1986. “The goal of our conference is to bring these holdings, especially those about Edward Gordon Craig, to a wider scholarly audience,” says Leabhart. “Our conference will include two exhibits of Craig materials taken from the Library, one in Special Collections at Honnold-Mudd, the other at the Clark Humanities Museum at Scripps.”

About the Keynote Speakers

Lori Belilove, the keynote speaker on Friday, is the artistic director of the The Isadora Duncan Dance Company. She has been taught by second-generation Duncan dancers Julia Levien, Hortense Kooluris, and Mignon Garland, and was coached for performance and technique by first-generation Duncan dancers Anna Duncan and Irma Duncan, two of the six adopted artistic daughters of Isadora Duncan. Belilove was the leading dancer in the in the award-winning PBS documentary Isadora Duncan: Movement From the Soul, and has staged and danced the leading role in Isadora…No Apologies (2003), premiered Isadora Into the 21st Century in 2004, and choreographed The EveryWoman Series: The Red Thread in 2007. Recent appearances include Isadora Goes Downtown: The Legacy, The Inspiration, The Women at Dance New Amsterdam.

Peter Sellars, who will deliver the keynote speech on Saturday, is known for unusual and innovative contemporary stagings of operas and plays. He has served as director of the Boston Shakespeare Company, the director and manager of the American National Theater, and the artistic director of the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals. He has staged productions at the Salzburg Festival, the Glyndebourne Festival and the Edinburgh Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the San Francisco Opera. Some productions include Cosi fan tutte set in a Cape Cod diner; The Marriage of Figaro set in a luxury apartment; Don Giovanni costumed as a Blaxploitation film; and The Persians as a response to the 1990-91 Gulf War. He has received the Erasmus Prize, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Currently, he is professor of world arts and cultures at UCLA and resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival.

Event Schedule

Thursday, March 28

Pre-Conference: Performances and Demonstrations Engaging Edward Gordon Craig and His Legacy – Seaver Theatre. Moderator: Thomas Leabhart

  • 12 p.m.: Registration, Seaver Theatre Courtyard
  • 1 p.m.: Won Kim ’95 -- Playing with Forms: Company Pas de Dieux (France) and its Physical Theatre Approach
  • 2 p.m.: Harvey Grossman – Architecture Instead of Picture
  • 3 p.m.: Luis Torreao – Between Life and Death 
  • 4 p.m.: Camille Cettina - Mr. Darcy Dreamboat
  • 5 p.m.: Elke Luyten and Kira Alker ‘02 – Studies of Inertia  
  • 6 p.m.: Dinner – Frank Hall 
  • 7 p.m.: Daniel Stein –  Poetic Dynamics (Physics/Metaphysics)
  • 8 p.m.: Roman Peska – Fear of Puppetry
  • 9 p.m.:  Reception in Seaver Theatre Courtyard

Friday, March 29

Morning Session - Seaver Theatre. Moderator: Juliet Koss

  • 9 - 10 a.m.: Registration, Seaver Theatre Courtyard, Pomona College
  • 10 a.m.: Welcoming Remarks with Thomas Leabhart and James Taylor, Department of Theater and Dance, Pomona College
  • 10:20 a.m.: Franc Chamberlin, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom – “Craig and the Psychophysical Actor”
  • 10:40 a.m.: Jennifer Buckley, Department of Rhetoric, University of Iowa – “Craig’s Mimodramatic Stage”
  • 11 a.m.: Harvey Grossman, Academie voor Spel en Theater, Antwerp, Belgium – “Gordon Craig, Etienne Decroux and the Rediscovery of Mime”
  • 11:45 a.m.: Performance by Y.T. Wong and Celia Dufournet
  • 12 p.m.: Q&A for morning papers
  • 12:30 p.m.: Lunch in Seaver Theatre Courtyard, Pomona College
[1:45 p.m.: transportation available to Honnold Library for the afternoon session]

Afternoon Session - Founder’s Room, Honnold Library. Moderator: Arthur Horowitz

  • 2 p.m.: Carrie Marsh, Special Collections Librarian, Honnold Library  - “Edward Gordon Craig: A Life in Books”  
  • 2:30 p.m.: Eric T. Haskell, French Department, Scripps College – “Picturing Robinson Crusoe: Edward Gordon Craig, Daniel Defoe and Image-Text Inquiry”
  • 2:50 p.m.:  Tony Shay, Department of Theater and Dance, Pomona College – “Wrapping Oneself in Greek Spirituality: Isadora Duncan, Gordon Craig, and Ancient Greece”
  • 3:10 p.m.: Olga Taxidou, Department of English Literature, University of Edinburgh -“The Dancer and the Übermarionette”
  • 3:30 p.m.: Q&A for afternoon papers
  • 4 p.m.: Coffee Break
  • 4:30 p.m.: Round Table (Juliet Koss and Arthur Horowitz, moderators)

[5:45 p.m.: transportation available to Seaver Theater at Pomona for reception and dinner]

Evening Reception, Dinner and Performances

  • 6 p.m.: Reception in Seaver Theatre Courtyard, Pomona College
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dinner in Seaver Theatre Courtyard
  • 6 – 7 p.m.: Yozmit site-specific performance
  • 8 p.m.: Lori Belilove in “A Tragic Tale of Love and Death: Edward Gordon Craig and Isadora Duncan,” Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona

Saturday, March 30

Morning Session - Seaver Theatre, Pomona College. Moderator: Tony Shay

  • 10 a.m.: Annie Holt, Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University - “Easel Painters versus ’The Artist of the Theatre’: Costumes of the Ballets Russes and Edward Gordon Craig”
  • 10:20 a.m.: Carole Guidicelli, Institut International de la Marionette, Charleville-Mézières, France - “From Edward Gordon Craig to Gisèle Vienne:  Choreographing the Action, Sculpting the Light, Manipulating the Fog in Search of Beauty”
  • 10:40 a.m.: Didier Plassard, Département Arts du spectacle, Université Paul Valéry , Montpellier 3 - “E.G. Craig’s Drama for Fools: A Journey Through the Past”
  • 11 a.m: Patrick Le Boeuf, Curator, La Bibliothèque nationale de France - “Craig on Shakespeare: Two Unknown Essays”
  • 11:20 a.m.: Q&A (for morning session)

[11:50 a.m.: transportation available to Scripps College for lunch and afternoon session]

Afternoon Session - Clark Humanities Museum and Humanities Building Auditorium, Scripps College. Moderator: Kimberley Jannarone

  • 12 p.m.: Lunch in the Margaret Fowler Garden, Scripps College
  • 1:30 p.m.: Thomas Price, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan - “Norman Philbrick: The Man and His Collection”

  • 1:50 p.m.: Claudia Orenstein, Theatre Department, Hunter College/CUNY Graduate Center - “Our Puppets, Our Selves”
  • 2:10  p.m.: James Taylor, Department of Theater and Dance, Pomona College - “The Shadow Puppets of Elsinore: Edward Gordon Craig and the Cranach Press Hamlet“
  • 2:30 p.m.: Q&A (for afternoon session)
  • 3 p.m.: Coffee Break
  • 3:30: Samuel Gold, actor/puppeteer, Los Angeles - “Hamlet’s Last Act”
  • 4 p.m.: Li Wei, National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, Beijing - “Inspirations from Edward Gordon Craig’s Three Ideas on Stage Design”
  • 4:20 p.m.: Round Table (Kimberley Jannarone and Tony Shay moderators)

[5 p.m.: transportation available to Pomona College for reception and dinner]

  • 6-8 p.m.: Reception and Dinner in Frank Hall Blue Room, Pomona College
  • 6-8 p.m.: Yozmit site-specific performance, Seaver Theatre
  • 8 p.m.: Keynote Address: Peter Sellars, Seaver Theatre. Introduction by Pomona College President David Oxtoby