‘Exquisite Boats’: Interview with Architect-Scenographer Marion Delaporte (Luxembourg)

Marion Delaporte is currently based in Luxembourg. After graduating from the Architectural Association in London, she started working on a material research called ‘Reviving Fiberglass’ with Timothy Tan. This lead to the play and scenography project ‘The exquisite boats’ on which she is currently working in collaboration with the actress and play director Béatrice Paquet and the architect Timothy Tan.

How did your interest in Ecoscenography and sustainable theatre production begin? I discovered scenography during my architecture studies, as I always felt the need to discover spaces through narrative. Scenography therefore being the perfect combination of building and narrative. Ecoscenography however happened a bit by mistake. During our research project ‘Reviving Fiberglass’, we felt the need to communicate the work we did. The project is dealing with the problem of ‘end of life boats’, which are often neglected in seas and rivers. A play seemed like the perfect way to bring the complex topic of the toxicity of composite building material like fiberglass closer to an audience. A play will be the perfect way to immerse an audience in our vision which is perhaps a bit too utopian for the real world.

What does Ecoscenography mean to you? How do you define it (for yourself and others): I would define it as the awareness of the durability of matter. By definition, a play has a beginning and an ending, a scenography however will continue existing no matter what. My take on Ecoscenography is to consider the material pre and post scenography. This should not be a restriction but more of an opportunity as it can create a delightful overlap between what was created for a fiction, and what exists in reality.

Can you tell me about your latest project? What was it about and how did you bring an ecological ethic to the work? The project ‘Exquisite Boats’ started with the realisation of the complexity to find a second life for composite materials, despite being so numerous in the world around us. Our aim was to find a way to reuse existing fiberglass, but at the same time to educate ourselves and others about the materiality of the world around us. We don’t want to diminish the material, but instead we hope for a better understanding of it, as one needs this understanding in order to avoid waste. In terms of aesthetics, the narrative is key. The surroundings, the story, the material, all these elements triggered different references which influenced the aesthetics. The name ‘Exquisite Boats’ emphasises our aesthetic approach, which is a collage of scenarios creating something new, which one has to discover.

What were some of the biggest hurdles that you have had to tackle on realising the project? What are you most proud of? As I am still in the midst of the project, I am facing hurdles day by day; nevertheless what I am the most proud of is dealing with the root of the problem concerning material waste. It might seem straightforward, but finding the root of a waste source can be very hard, as the truth about landfill, recycling and other types of waste is often quite political and remains invisible in our cities.

What tips would you give to a scenographer/theatre maker who is exploring sustainable practice for the first time?
Maybe to believe in simple ideas and make the most of them. Mine was the strange desire to use abandoned boats and to build with them. I am glad that I had the courage to stick to it and to believe it was an idea worth pursuing, because it has led to beautiful things.

What is your next project?
‘Reviving Fiberglass’ will exist as a short film soon, while ‘The exquisite boats’ will be a 45 minutes play which will take place in summer. Hopefully both projects will develop more, before I start another one!