This is a group design project being accepted by the PQ Studio: Common Design Project Online Gallery.
Designed by: Cheng Keng, Deepanjali, Ingerid Gullerud, Jamie Lu, Orange Zhu
Dictatorship can happen at any time anywhere. We have chosen to stage The White Plague in a not-so-distant dystopian future where the grotesque extremism of power is exposed as a joyless and mediatized Brechtian carnival.
We are setting the design within the monumental architecture of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, a space previously transformed from a historical power plant to a modern art gallery. In this way, we exploit the industrial aesthetic and exhibitive function now transformed into a military and medical hybrid factory to hold Capek’s story. The environment functions like a war machine where everybody is a replaceable part, thereby representing a collectivist ideology. All the performers wear the same black outfit and queue for a costume (character/job). They remain anonymous until they get a costume. When one’s infected, someone else will take over their place and the system keeps running seamlessly.
Starting as an immersive piece where audiences are offered mobile devices and given an induction on how they can explore this space, it soon becomes clear that viewers are in fact restricted to a certain area where they can choose to sit down or move around. When a scene happens far away, they have to rely on screens and headphones. Their sources of information are getting restricted, they’re also part of the system.
The two months have been challenging and yet fruitful both mentally and physically. Designing this play is like having a conversation with Capek across time and space: we identified the unsolved questions he raised and as designers, took the task to keep raising them.