Curated by Tom Creed The Next Four Years is a speculative retrospective of Irish performance design and scenography in the years 2023-2027, challenging the designers of today to imagine the theatre of tomorrow.

The Next Four Years comprises a film, a publication, and daily conversations that explore ideas, challenges and opportunities for the future. The film and publication are based on an extended conversation about the exhibition theme between the participating designers, as well as speculative visual and sonic glimpses of a variety of performance design practices.

Tom Creed invited eight leading Irish designers, working across costume, lighting, music, props, set, sound and video, to collaborate on this project and investigate new approaches to design, in response 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”.

Over two days in May 2023, the participating designers gathered in a warehouse in a suburban Dublin industrial estate, surrounded by the accidental archive that is the prop and furniture store of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre, to discuss the next four years of Irish performance design. They spoke about beginnings and inspiration, post-pandemic shifts, new forms and subjects, aesthetic and structural hierarchies, environmental urgencies and sustainable solutions, new impulses and unfinished business. This conversation, which forms the spine of our film, was conceived and facilitated in close collaboration with Lian Bell, a set and costume designer who is equally adept at designing conversations, and shows how design thinking can move beyond the stage into new fields and formats.

In the subsequent days, Tom Creed invited each designer to stage a visual or sonic proposition to be recorded – a kind of sketch in four dimensions with the stage of a Dublin theatre acting as exhibition space. These gestures act as ruptures and chapter markers in the film, interrupting and sitting alongside the filmed conversations. They provide glimpses or strains of practice and process, gathering and aftermath, creation and destruction, which resonate with the project’s future thinking.

Please, The Next Four Years full credits here.