Galileo Project

Proposal for a stage to house Bertolt Brecht's play Life of Galileo

Project Lead: Jimenez Lai

Team:  Man-Yan Lam, Steve Martinez, Eric Lawler

In studying the play Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, Bureau Spectacular proposed a site specific compound as well as a burning object. We proposed a large temporary stage with roughly a 70' x 70' footprint with large slender towers peaking at 55' tall. In thinking about the townscape of San  Gimignano, this project is an abstract skyline of monolithic objects that cut across the quiet ocean sky. 

The stage is a four-sided platform that spins around one central pivot, similar to the action of a merry-go-round. The rotation activates the four elevations -- there are four positions the stage can snap to, fully utilizing the geometry of the square. After studying the play we organized all the scenes (14 in total) into categories: small, medium and large environments, in addition to a backstage area, thus assigning architectural program to each of the four sides (ABCD) of the square.  The four sides are as follows: Side A the back of house area for the actors and managers to prepare for their tasks, Side B a large interior (town hall, royal quarters, etc.), Side C exterior scenes (harbor, street scene, etc.) and Side D a small interior (apartment, attic, etc.). Each side can be considered an architectural cut, as they relate closer to an architectural section drawing rather than a traditional stage. To slice off each world is to suggest each reality is on the edge of another universe, and that the forth wall is always a gestural cut between spectator. 

The project opened up an opportunity to thoughtfully engage the idea of back-of-house. Working with a very large poché space in which the building organizes front and back by graphically blocking out black and white patches, the proposal will allow allow actors, stage managers, make-up artists, technicians, musicians, and other personnel to meander and circulate within the thickness of the walls. The human action behind the scenes will constitute a very large back-of-house. We imagine a bustling world stuffed into the thick space behind Life of Galileo

The rotation allows for the changing of architectural conditions including altering of plans, sections, and elevations. These qualities are made possible through a pivoting stage. 

For the seating of the audience members, we propose a non-invasive solution: rather than constructing bleachers out of wood, metal or plastic, we propose to pile dunes out of local material on the beach (sand). Using cut and fill methods similar to that of golf course sand pits, the dunes can be landscaped on site. The topography of the dunes can be sculpted to achieve the rise and run of amphitheaters, as well as form a near quarter circle around the stage set.  The peaks and valleys will be fitted in order to facilitate traffic, much in the same way the Roman Vomitoria allowed visitors to enter and exit the theater. Visitors can attend the play with their own pillows, blankets, snuggies, or any assortment of soft matter.