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PQ > AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA BOWLES, ARTISTIC LEADER OF SCENOFEST

AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA BOWLES, ARTISTIC LEADER OF SCENOFEST

23. 5. 2011, 17:13

Why is Scenofest part of the Prague Quadrennial?
Scenofest was created in 2003 as a way of bringing over a thousand of students from across the world together with the most exciting artists and innovators in performance. Each year the programme has evolved but always at the heart of Scenofest is the student experience, never more so than this year when we are using both projects themselves and social media to share and discuss the work that they see and take part in.

As part of Scenofest there will be 9 full length ‘sound and light’ driven performances, over 35 street performances in Jungmanovo náměstí, more than 50 workshops and masterclasses and 6 site specific performances in city gardens, river islands, abandoned streets and crypts across the beautiful centre of Prague. Scenofest gives students the opportunity to shape these events and activities and make a substantial contribution to the vibrant events that make up PQ.

What's the main meaning of this year's Scenofest?
Scenofest is responding to a broad theme of 'intersection' - for us this means the intersection of student and teacher, the intersection of cultures, national, ideas and points of view. This is reflected in the '6 Acts' project where international teams of student artists from across the globe have been working and researching online for several months, preparing to create 6 performances that respond to the very fabric of Prague, and which exist very much on the intersection between the students as 'tourist artists' and the local residents of Prague.

What's new in this year's Scenofest in comparison with thelast ones?
Most excitingly, with the ever-growing interaction of technology and the arts, we are reflecting this in how we document, discuss and share ideas and activities surrounding Scenofest with students back in their home countries, audiences in Prague and the international Stage Design community. People can find regular articles, updates, videos and discussions about Scenofest at a specialised student website: www.scenofestexchange.com and follow individual projects on Twitter at @PQ2011, @Scenofest6Acts, @ScenofestSTREET and @ScenofestDISK - we encourage anyone - from PQ, Intersection projects, local communities and those who are interested in Scenofest to visit this website and join in the debate and conversations online. The 6 Acts project is also an incredibly ambitious new addition to the Scenofest programme and provides not only a unique educational experience for the students involved, to work with artists of international reputation - but also a fascinating series of experiences for the public of Prague.

Why do you think that there is a need to hold an internationalplatform as Scenofest?
Whenever there is an international event, whether it be PQ or another conference or festival about Scenography, I am always astounded by the diversity of ideas, conversations and work between countries, that we would have no idea about were it not for bringing it altogether under one roof. Taking this into account, it is fantastic that students have the opportunity to engage with their peers internationally and for events like Scenofest to expand their knowledge and horizons on an international level. These contacts and networks last way beyond PQ as an event and companies and collaborations start that can last a lifetime.

What's - in the long term - the main benefit of Scenofest?
The long term benefits of Scenofest definitely lie in networks. This means networks between institutions who might learn from one another's activities or programmes, the networks of students who will one day graduate and have a wealth of friends and contacts in countries and situations right around the world. Most broadly, it's also about cultural awareness in the work the students make. I hope that after Scenofest, students of different nationalities and backgrounds will be more aware of international trends, cultural ideas and art forms and disciplines - that this may somehow enrich the work they go on to make as professionals.

How do you like the idea to leave IndustrialPalace and turnout, perform on the street, in the whole city of Prague?
I think the move away from the Industrial Palace into the DAMU Theatre School, Jungmanovo náměstí and the 6 Acts locations across the historic centre is one of the most exciting developments for Scenofest. The 6 Acts project in particular was a response to this opportunity, we wanted to make performances that could not be made in any other place, that would be unique to the history, story and culture of Prague and so we created international teams who would research their sites in detail with their lead artist and then work in situ to create something that would reveal a story as much to a Prague local as it would to a newcomer to the City.

Another very important part of this move is our collaboration with the DAMU, the staff and students have been fantastic, everyone; the Dean, the excellent staff and students have worked energetically to welcome this international event.

We hope that what we create by being in the city centre will connect in much more dynamic and immediate ways with everyone in Prague, PQ visitors, locals going to work as much as the tourists , hopefully making it a richer experience for everyone.

How the choice of artists and students participating onScenofest was going?
We have had a wonderful response from across the globe to our calls to take part in Scenofest projects. The workshop programme has over 40 leading international artists, sharing their latest ideas and research so that students are able to get unique access to not only the minds and advice of the leaders, but also new technologies, concepts and debates in Scenography.

Street Stories performances feature work from students from across the world from as far as Korea, , Australia, Brazil, Macau SAR, and many, many more. Obviously, the 6 Artists who are leading the 6 Act project are some of the most renowned site specific artists in the world and we're thrilled to be working with them. This project has also made very creative use of social media and the students have been developing ideas for the event on line from their homes across the globe.

There has also been a huge response to the call for proposals for DISK stories and the countries represented here and across the whole of Scenofest is broader than ever before. DISK Stories features very exciting performances from Bulgaria, Georgia, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, USA and UK amongst others.

Interview was conducted by Markéta Horešovská, editor ČTK