Anat Mesner is an Israeli born scenographer with a B.A. (Hons.) Degree in Set & Costume Design from Central School of Art & Design, London, 1978. She returned to Israel, and since, has designed over two hundred sets & costumes for plays and productions at most repertoire & children’s theatres in Israel, also Art Direction for television and costumes for several feature films. Anat has won several design prizes in different Theatre Festivals. She was on the curation & design team for PQ1991 when Israel first participated and has been involved in all the following Prague Quadrennials. She curated the Israeli expositions for PQ2015 and PQ2019 Anat has taught set and Costume design for more than 26 years and works intensively with children and youth. She heads the Society of Israeli Theatre Designers and OISTAT Israel.
Abstract title: A MORBID PROPHECY FROM PQ 2019 TO COVID19 ALL AROUND THE WORLD
The Israeli Exposition at the 2019 PQ was called 1600 Feet Under, which is about the depth of the Dead Sea below sea level. The theme of the exposition was a cemetery of stage performances, meaning to say that the life span of any performance is short. When the show closes and the curtain goes down, it dies, leaving behind only memories, and ruins of sets and costumes, to be preserved. In order to convey this concept, we created a row of black graves, echoing the “Black Box” as a blank canvas for the scenographer’s art. These graves were buried in salt from the Dead Sea, which is Earth’s lowest and saltiest lake – rendering it uninhabitable, hence its name. On the other hand, it possesses immense healing and preserving powers due to an abundance of minerals. As a result, the Dead Sea is being massively exploited, and is slowly diminishing. And we asked there: “Can this idea be a call for the preservation of the Dead Sea? For the Earth? For the art of theatre performance?“ To our disbelief this exposition in Prague turned out to be a kind of morbid prophecy. 7 months later, the whole world changed and theatres all over the world actually shut down and, in some cases, nearly died. In Israel theatre has been shut down since March and there is no horizon yet. Now we are in the midst of re-creating the PQ19 Israeli exposition from Prague in Tel-Aviv, especially as it became so relevant. We plan to scatter graves all over the city in the open air, provoking a warning that theatres are closed and about to die. We will attach digital barcodes connecting to a map of the locations, with lots of visual information about each performance, designs and imagery. In the last part of the paper I will show designs of Israeli performances that have not been born yet, – meaning that there are sketches and models, in some cases even sets entirely built, but never exposed to an audience because the theatres are shut.