Theater Professor a Finalist in World Stage Design Exhibition

Haibo Yu is one of 100 theatrical designers selected for international competition in Wales

In this set designed by Haibo Yu, the horse head is transformed into a Matouqin, the horse-head string instrument that is an important icon of Mongolian culture.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The design for a dance production by University of California, Riverside theater professor Haibo Yu is one of 100 finalists selected to participate in the 2013 World Stage Design Exhibition in September in Cardiff, Wales.

“Impression of Mongolia” is an epic piece intended to visualize the Mongolian culture and history through music, dance and visual power, said Yu, who is known internationally for his innovative set designs.

Drumming horse_1

Mongolian warriors march in front of the horse head, which symbolizes the spirit of the nation, in Scene 2 of “Impression of Mongolia.”

The World Stage Design Exhibition, held every four years, is organized by OISTAT/International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians and is one of the most prestigious events in the world of theatrical design. This year’s exhibition, scheduled Sept. 5-15, will display productions performed between 2009 and 2012.

Stuart Krieger, chair of the UCR Department of Theatre, said the university is proud of Yu’s accomplishments.

“The artistic impact and consistent quality of Haibo Yu’s internationally recognized work has always been and continues to be a source of great pride and respect from the Department of Theatre and the entire UCR community,” he said. “For all of us, Haibo is a scenic design rock star.”

Yu is delighted. “It’s a recognition of my work and myself as among the top-tier designers in the field and at an international level,” he said.

giant bull's head and dancers

Women dance and the bull head is opened to reveal warriors and their wives before they begin their expedition in Scene 5.

Other finalists are Tony Award-winner Richard Hudson of the United Kingdom, whose credits include sets and costumes for the Royal National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and “The Lion King”; Marie Jeanne Lecca of Romania, the costume designer for Welsh National Opera’s “Lulu”; and Jean-Marc Puissant of France. who works on theater, opera and dance shows worldwide.

Some of the most innovative and groundbreaking designs for performance from across the world will be presented, including original scenography, costumes, puppetry, drawings, paintings, photographs and props alongside interactive exhibits from lighting, video and sound designers, according to event organizers.

The finalists were selected by a panel of internationally acclaimed experts in the field from more than 1,000 submissions from more than 50 countries. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be presented.

“Impression of Mongolia” tells many stories, Yu explained, “a bit like a Mongolian ‘Metamorphoses.’”

Designing the set began with identifying a symbolic image or figure “to visually interpret the magnificent Mongolian momentum,” Yu explained. That image was a horse head, an image recalling the wind horse of Mongolia’s state emblem, symbolizing the spirit of the nation. The horse head figures prominently on the Matoquin, a Mongolian fiddle.

women dancers in Mongolian costumes

Women dance in their national costumes of Mongolia.

Yu, who was born in Beijing, is well-known in the United States, Europe, China and Hong Kong for theatrical, television and movie set design. Among his collaborators and clients are Warner Brothers, Media Asia Films (Hong Kong), Sky TV (U.K.), TVB (London), China Central TV, Xie-Jin-Heng-Tong Films (China), South Coast Repertory (California), the East and West Players (Los Angeles), the National Theatre Studio (U.K.), and Olympics museums in Beijing and Athens.

At UC Riverside he teaches scenic design and production courses. Yu is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and The Society of British Theatre Designers.

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