New Theatre Quarterly

Research Article

Architecture and/in Theatre from the Bauhaus to Hong Kong: Mathias Woo's Looking for Mies

Rossella Ferrari

Abstract

In 2001 Mathias Woo, a trained architect and co-artistic director of Hong Kong's foremost performing arts group, Zuni Icosahedron, proposed the concept of ‘multimedia architectural music theatre’ (MAMT), which he later investigated through a series of performances focusing on three masters of modern architecture – Louis I. Kahn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier. This article traces the development of Woo's architectural theatre aesthetics by examining the most ambitious work in the series, Looking for Mies, premiered in 2002 and revived in 2009 and 2011. This links Hong Kong's twenty-first-century postmodernist theatre to early twentieth-century European modernism, particularly the Bauhaus, and international examples of architecture-centred performance. Looking for Mies unearths connections between theatre and architecture, and explores the relations between tradition and technology, man and machine, live performance and digitally mediated experience on the modern stage. Rossella Ferrari is a Lecturer in Modern Chinese Culture and Language at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She has published articles in TDR: The Drama Review, Postcolonial Studies, Journal of Contemporary China, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, and other journals. Her monograph Pop Goes the Avant-garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China is forthcoming from Seagull Books, and her current research focuses on inter-Asian collaboration and performance networks in the Chinese-speaking world.

Key words

  • Zuni Icosahedron;
  • Hong Kong theatre;
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe;
  • theatre and architecture;
  • performance and architecture