| Arnold Aronson |
It's a major honor to be selected commissioner of a world-renowned international theatre conference, but when the appointee is the first to be born outside of the host country, it's a breakthrough performance.
Arnold Aronson, professor of theatre arts at the Graduate School of the Arts, will serve as the commissioner of the Prague Quadrennial (PQ), an international exhibit of stage design and theater architecture. He is the first non-Czech commissioner general since the inception of the Prague Quadrennial in 1967 and will head the 2007 exhibit.
The PQ, which hosts approximately 50 participating countries, was founded by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Theatre Institute in Prague. The goal of the exhibition, along with its accompanying seminars and workshops, is to provide an opportunity to compare and study recent trends in world theater. International stage designers and artists who have shown their works in its more than three-decade history include Tadeusz Kantor, David Borovsky, Ralph Koltai, Ming Cho Lee, Achim Freyer and Salvador Dali.
The PQ has received the support of the president of the Czech Republic and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in past exhibitions. In 1999, UNESCO awarded prizes to two designers at the PQ: Vladimir Anschon of Estonia and Liz Ashcroft of Great Britain. An award also was given to the New Zealand exhibit.
As general commissioner, Aronson will be in charge of the exhibit's general concept and will serve as representative of the PQ abroad. "This is the largest and most prestigious exhibit and competition in the world, and I was incredibly honored to be asked to serve as commissioner," said Aronson. "As the first non-Czech commissioner, I hope to try and open the PQ out to the world in new ways and seek out fresh ideas from the international community."
Aronson served as chair of the Theatre Division at Columbia from 1991 through 1998 and has chaired theater departments at the University of Michigan and Hunter College. In 1995, Aronson was a curator of the American National Exhibit during the PQ and served as president of the PQ International Jury in 1991 and 1999. He is the author of History and Theory of Environmental Scenography; American Set Design; Architect of Dreams: The Theatrical Vision of Joseph Urban; and American Avant-Garde Theatre: A History. He is currently working on Looking into the Abyss: Essays on Scenography, which will be published later this year. His articles have appeared in Drama Review, American Theatre, Theatre Forum, Theatre Research International and The New York Times Book Review. Aronson has contributed to such encyclopedias as the Cambridge History of American Theatre, Cambridge Guide to World Theatre, Cambridge Guide to American Theatre and Cambridge Companion to Chekhov.