On 9- 13 March 2020 the first Czech creative residence of Puppets & Design project took place in Prague, with participation of Czech artistic ensemble Studio Damúza, director Matija Solce and foreign guests – Spanish designer from IED Madrid Joel Blanco and Italian stage designer Teresa Neppi.

The aim of this first creative residence was to step towards the future play THINGS WHICH THINK THINGS inspired by the work of Gogol.

We are convinced that every thing has its place, its memory, its character. Every thing has its own life, that can have similarities to human ones. Through the performance, we will research and define different aspects of unexpected, old objects by animating them, changing them into musical instruments or by using them as symbols and characters. This way, we will create a wordless language, that will tell stories through objects, movement and sound.

As it was the first meeting, it was necessary to discuss the fundamental topics: what are the objects, how do they come to life, what is our relationship to them and how are they changed or transformed by this relationship?

Participants were tasked with bringing along objects to which they have strong personal relationship and through short musical, motion or drama etude they were to introduce it to the others.

The guest representing the combination of design and puppets and how to use everyday objects in artistic work was young Spanish designer Joel Blanco.

As Joel is, apart from applied art, focused on music creation, the residence was led mainly in this direction. The participants were equipped with professional recording equipment and they were supposed to start notice sounds of objects in their rooms and houses. Or to observe occurences and noises on the street in front of their house and record them. Next day, the other participants were guessing what each sound was – but to assign the correct sound to an object is not an easy task without the visual perception. In the play this topic will be included and further developped. Is the sound we are hearing really coming from the object we believe it is?

We were also focused on presenting Joel’s work and topics he considers important. How to provoke? How to become viral? How to act in public space?

Our second foreign guest, Italian stage designer Teresa Neppi specializes on dramatic art so she could easily create a team with the director Matija Solce and focus on thinking how to create a functional theatre form and what is its relationship towards everyday objects. As we are talking about the first residence, the discussion was rather theoretical – particular stage design solutions shall be the outcome of the second residence.

As the residence was taking place in the first half of March when the spread of Covid-19 was quickly culminating, the space for creativity was largely affected by ubiquitous distress related to families and close ones of all participants, closing of public spaces and institutions in the Czech Republic and uncertainty about safe return of participants and foreign guests to their homes.

It is very clear that the work of a designer is far from that of theatre and puppet artists. The quest of a functional and enriching connection will require time, open minds and a will to break out of existing patterns. We can say we have all that. We hope that the next session will not be happening in the atmosphere of fear and stress but in peaceful environment that allows – and is necessary- for focusing on artistic work and development of this project.1

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