Precursors of Performance


Fig 2 model archWhat remains of a production that was never performed? I discuss an unrealised production of Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegra, directed by John Dexter, designed by Jocelyn Herbert, and scheduled for the 1984/85 season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in an article published in the special issue of Theatre and Performance Design: On Models, edited by Thea Brejzek and Lawrence Wallen.

The set model, notebooks and correspondence relating to this production that are held in the Jocelyn Herbert Archive suggest how models were used in the conversation between Herbert, Dexter and scenic artists. Rather than focusing on the teleological function of the archive in showing how an artist arrived at a final design, this approach provides a way of thinking about the generative potential of archival materials. The model pieces are considered as ‘precursors for performance’, objects from which new objects can be produced.

The article is in Theatre and Performance Design Volume 4, 2018 – Issue 1-2: On Models, pp. 64-82, It can be accessed for free from this link. (The link can be used up to 50 times – drop me an email if it no longer works!)

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