If performance designers could offer new possibilities for Irish theatre after the pandemic, what shapes and sounds, spaces and acoustics, materials and formats, structures and hierarchies might they propose? What new creative and collaborative practices might emerge? What new social and artistic functions for theatre might present themselves? How might an exhibition of design indicate new directions rather than just revisiting the past?

Established in 1967, the Prague Quadrennial showcases the best of international performance design every four years, and the 2023 event taking place June 8-18, sees Irish design represented for the fourth time. Eight leading Irish designers – Ciaran Bagnall, Lian Bell, Katie Davenport, Mel Mercier, Rob Moloney, Eimer Murphy, Jack Phelan and Sinéad Wallace – have joined curator Tom Creed to collaborate on this project, which is presented by ISPD in association with Once Off Productions.

The Next Four Years is a speculative retrospective of Irish performance design in the years 2023-2027, which challenges the designers of today to imagine the theatre of tomorrow. It investigates new approaches to design to speak to the PQ 2023 theme of RARE, which asks “what the world and theatre could look like in the post-pandemic future” and calls on designers “to imagine, visualise, and even create rare visions of the future”.

The Next Four Years comprises a film, publication, and physical installation exploring ideas, challenges and opportunities for the future. At the heart of the project is a conversation among a group of Irish performance designers, as well as a series of artistic responses to the theme. The public will be invited to engage with the participating designers during the exhibition’s run in Prague, extending the frame of the conversation into the exhibition space. The film and publication will also be presented with a series of associated public events as part of the PQ 2023 National Tour in Autumn 2023.

Opening Night of The Next Four Years:Ireland at Prague Quadrennial 2023