avant garde designs in the performing arts theater

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Defining the Filipino Cultural Identity: Filipino Avant Garde in Performing Arts Theater

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“They are natural imitators; it is a racial characteristic,” Maj. Frank S. Bourns of the US colonial army This dilemma can be seen in Philippine Performing Arts Theater design styles as the Filipino struggle for identity – a manifestation probably acquired from long periods of colonization from various colonizers.

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What is the cultural identity of the Filipino? Is it possible to translate the “Avant Garde” concept to Filipino design context? Can the Avant Garde concept marry to the functional aspect of planning a performing arts theater? In this study, the researcher proposes to harness the chameleon-like adaptability of Filipinos to influences and use it to make a new form of style. Hopefully, as this new style is formed, a longstanding appreciation to the cultural arts will develop as well. This study also sought to answer these questions:

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Evidences of the Problem… …is seen throughout the history of the Philippines’s Performing Art Theaters. A testament that after more than 300 years of colonization, foreign influences are heavily adapted into our culture.

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Spanish colonial period The Spaniards brought in the classical-romance style in the Philippine shore during their stay, and with improvisation from the available materials here in the Philippines, the adaptation of that style has now a Filipino flavor into it (i.e. nipa hut roof, bamboo, rattan, and other indigenous woods)

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Vs. Manila Grand Opera House, mid-1800s Teatro de Binondo, c.1855 Teatro Real, 1850 Teatro Guimera, 1849

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American Colonial Period: Art Deco influences were adapted, mixing the style with known Filipino motifs like bananas, mangoes, bamboo, hibiscus and birds-of-paradise flowers.

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Metropolitan Theater, Manila Rio Theater, Montana, USA

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Post-Colonial Period: After 1946… The Tanghalang Pambansa (otherwise known as the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Building), Meralco Theater, and Folk Arts Theatre that were all built during the late 60s to early 70s, have been done in a mixture of Filipino Contemporary and International Style Movement.

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The International style developed the same time Art Deco was developed. But it was only during the 60s that we adapted this style due to the fact that during in the 1920s-1930s, Americans preferred period or "revival" styles that reflected an eclectic mix of past traditions. The Philippines were still under American rule during that time.

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Architects of the International Style promoted an anti-style: a new universal architecture molded from modern materials - concrete, glass, and steel - that was characterized by an absence of decoration. The style was "international" in that it could be applied to any location, site, or climate as it made no reference to local history or national vernacular. (L-R:Weissenhof Estate (1927), Villa Savoye (1929), Hunt Library (1960), Hunt Wesson (1960))

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Meralco Theater CCP Theater Folk Arts Theater

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Edson Cabalfin, a Filipino architectural scholar, puts this as the effect of “intermingling and hybridization of culture” not only between the cultures of both “colonized” and “colonizers”, but also to other culture’s influences that the Filipino architects and designers tried to learn and absorb. And as history revealed that the theater’s style evident in architectural structures adapts the design movement to the period it was built, it is also safe to assume that the Filipino style adapts with the progress of any foreign influences.

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So… What is the cultural identity of the Filipino? Postcolonial architectural critic Sibel Bozdogan who, while recognizing that rejection of foreign influences is futile, said that it would be beneficial if we accept it and then adapt to it. What makes us Filipinos unique is the fact that this country is a melting pot of cultures as compared to our geographical Asian brothers. That the people are westernized can’t be avoided, and that they are seen as lacking in “Asian-ness” - except in location - can’t be helped. But as influences are assimilated, the researcher also urges the importance of looking back into the roots pre-colonial time, and then learning to appreciate what we were before we were influenced.

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Theorizing Filipino Avant-garde Through the planning/building of this performing arts theater, the researcher wants to apply the avant-garde concept in this theater’s design by thinking experimental and out of the box ideas in conceptualizing the design of this entertainment venue. Hopefully, in doing so, a prouder Filipino will be able to call something as their own in the interior design world.

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“Avant Garde” means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English, to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

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Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm. The notion of the existence of the avant-garde is considered by some to be a hallmark of modernism and postmodernism. Postmodernist Buildings Piazza d'Italia by Charles Willard Moore , Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry, Portland Post Service Building by Michael Graves, The Rasin Building by Frank Gehry.

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The concept of avant-garde refers exclusively to marginalized artists, writers, composers and thinkers whose work is not only opposed to mainstream commercial values, but often has an abrasive social or political edge. Wherein Filipino contemporary design only adapts and assimilates influences, merging symbolism of Filipino to the Western designs, this study encourages adapting, assimilating AND thinking out of the box. And while Avant-garde movement is usually accompanied by having a social and political edge as vehicle to its inspiration, this study will use the dilemma of “finding the Filipino cultural identity” as it’s inspiration.

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Is it possible to translate the “Avant Garde” concept to Filipino design context? It is. If we are able to find our voice, then true originality can pass through despite habits of imitating. Given that this concept encourages thinking out of the box and pushing through boundaries of what is the norm, we will be able to create something new. Parameters that needed to consider while putting Avant Garde concept in Filipino design context: Recognizing the people and tradition pre-colonial time Identifying materials that naturally grow in this country Noting the foreign influences that we accumulated over the years are also part of our own self.

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Making an Effective Theater D esigning a theater isn’t just about envisioning its style or encapsulating a particular design movement. It is also important that a theater is also functional.

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One of the first issues a designer confronts in approaching the design of any performing arts space is the issue of form – that is, the relationship between the audience members in their seats and the performers on stage. Issues of form are influenced by a number of forces, including the type of performance, seating capacity, and historical precedents. Audience Performers

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There are also technical requirements in performing art spaces that is needed to be followed: · Front of house: Lobbies, foyers, circulation, box office, restrooms and other spaces serving the theater-going public. · House: the audience chamber · Stage: Where the action happens · Backstage or back-of-house: dressing rooms, green rooms, performer and crew lounges, shops, storage rooms, and other support spaces for the stage, performers, and technical crew.

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The quantity, size, location, and features associated with space in each of these categories will vary depending on the unique requirements of the companies, ensembles, producers, or presenters that use a particular performance room. These requirements are most directly influenced by the types of performances and seating capacity . Hanamichi-Thrust Stage Proscenium Stage Arena Theater / In the round

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Design Issues should also be taken in consideration as stated in the book “ Building Type Basic for Performing Arts Facilities ” by Stephen A. Kliment : Transparency Natural Light Circulation Wheelchair Access

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1) Good lighting plan 2) Good choice of color should also be considered as it functions to attract attention to the theater and create in the theatergoer a mood of expansiveness and readiness to enjoy the show. 3)Soundproofing materials are also vital in a theater to provide good acoustics. Other things that ought to be considered in designing a theater:

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