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Feature Stories

Metaphor and Irony

Never thinking an exhibit of large proportions could happen at the University of the Incarnate Word, Margaret Mitchell, a UIW associate professor in theatre arts, worked three years to make sure it did.

Bringing the exhibit - Metaphor and Irony 2: Frantisek Tröster and Contemporary Czech Theatre Design - took both time and patience as collaborations had to be forged to make the impossible possible.

The first of Mitchell's collaborators was Joe Brandesky of Ohio State University-Lima, whom she had known previously from the Theatre Institute in Prague. It is Brandesky who first brought the exhibit of Czech theatre design to light for the U.S. Never before had the United States seen the work that played such an important role in Czech life and provided an outlet for Czechs in a time of political repression.

Featuring 300 puppets, models, costumes, designs and production photos, the exhibit helps audiences peek into the art and politics of culture in the Czech Republic. Though exhibits this large usually go to larger institutions with more resources, the daunting task didn't stop Mitchell as she and Brandesky proposed the exhibit and accompanying symposium and workshops.

"It was an opportunity to collaborate with Incarnate Word - something we hadn't done before," said Jody Blake, Curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Art at the McNay.

The Tobin Foundation, named in honor of Robert Tobin for his commitment to theatre design, afforded some of the exhibit's necessary funds to make it come to fruition. UIW received generous funding from the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts & JPMorgan Chase through the efforts of the staff in Institutional Advancement.

The funds allowed Mitchell to go beyond the exhibit to incorporate puppetry workshops, presented by Halka Tresnakova and company. A symposium, featuring Brandesky and theatre professors from the University of Kansas, will provide a greater understanding of the role the works included in the exhibit played in Czech life. Hosted at Incarnate Word’s Semmes Gallery, the exhibit, workshop, and lecture helps welcome a broader audience.

"Having part of the exhibit at the Semmes Gallery at UIW gives more people a chance to participate," said Blake.

The exhibit will make Incarnate Word a focal point for similar projects in the future, said Mitchell. Coming to fruition, the exhibit speaks of Mitchell's drive and determination to bring an important part of history to San Antonio and her students.

"The exhibit is a wonderful accomplishment for UIW," Brandesky said. "My students and those of Incarnate Word are as deserving as anyone else."