The Museum of Desire: Reception and Cognition in Performance

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The Museum of Desire is an unpublished short story by John Berger, best known as the author of 'Ways of Seeing' and the Booker Prize-winning novel 'G.'The story was adapted by internationally-renowned British director Dan Jemmet and a multi-national group of performers that included Rick Kemp, the co-author of this presentation. The production was performed in the Frick Museum, Pittsburgh, USA, among paintings by masters such as Rubens, Fragonard and Reynolds, and created an experience that invited audience members to simultanesouly experience themselves as viewers and viewed, as both receivers of art, and also the subjects of art.
The performance incorporated the dramatization of this story, the reading of another Berger story ('Flowers in a Corner'), a tour of the gallery, and the performance of Schubert's 'Trout Quintet.'Its location within a major museum blurred the boundaries between real and fictional life in a meta-theatrical style that mirrored the literary techniques that Berger uses in the writing of the story. This account considers the discoveries made by the devising company generally, and particularly considerations of site and participants that were challenged.
This presentation, co-authored by a performer and a viewer of the performance, investigates the reception of the performance, focusing particularly on the impact of the multi-national and multi-ethnic make-up of the performance ensemble that included African-Americans, Caucasian Americans, Britons, people from Turkey, Canada, and of Chinese origin.


Keywords: Site Specific, Devised, Multi-National, Performer and Observer, Ways of Seeing, Object and Observer, Gallery Performance
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , The Museum of Desire


Dr. Rick Kemp

Assistant Professor, Theater and Dance, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA

Rick Kemp has received numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic for his work as an actor and director. He has performed with leading British companies such as Theatre de Complicite, the Almeida, and The Oxford Playhouse, as well as touring his solo clown show 'Coming Home' worldwide. A recipient of the French Government’s CROUS Award for Theatre, he was the Artistic Director of London-based Commotion Theatre Company from 1991 to 1998, has been nominated as a BAC Young British Director of the Year, holds an M.A. in English Literature from Oxford University, an M.F.A. in Performance Pedagogy and is completing his Ph.D. in Theater at The University of Pittsburgh. Professional work in the USA includes directing 'Hamlet' and 'Riddley Walker' at The Pittsburgh Playhouse, directing 'Shrew!' and 'The Comedy of Errors' for The Unseam’d Shakespeare Company, and acting in numerous shows for Quantum Theatre. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts to write and direct new works for Squonk Opera, and was a recipient of the Heinz Endowments Creative Heights Award. His work with Quantum Theatre was recently acknowledged by an invitation to perform at the prestigious Festival de Otono 2007 in Madrid.

Brian Jones

Department Chair, Theater and Dance, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA

Brian is a Professor of Theatre, and the resident scenery and lighting designer for the Department of Theater and Dance at Indiana University of PA, where he also serves as chair of the department. He received an MFA degree from the University of Florida in 1984, and since then has designed scenery and lighting for over 200 productions. His design for Zastrozzi: The Master of Discipline at IUP received a Meritorious Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival. Since 2001 Brian has expanded his artistic interests to include puppetry and masks and visual arts. In the fall of 2004 he was an Artistic Fellow at Mum Puppettheatre in Philadelphia, PA, where he designed The Puppetmaster of Lodz. He is the co-founder of Another Bloomin’ Puppet Company. In Spring 2009 he will open The Open Hand, a Fine Art Gallery featuring notable regional artists of Western Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA.

Ref: A09P0326