Inspired by Brighton Museum & Art Gallery’s outstanding holdings of performance related material from around the world, the Performance Gallery opened in 2002 as part of a major museum redevelopment project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
They inspire us to make spectacular things – costumes, masks, puppets, instruments and images.
These objects are used with fantastic stories, histories, music or dance to transport us for a time to imaginary worlds.
The Performance Gallery displays some of the things left behind when the show is over.
In puppet theatre figures stand in for humans and for a time we are drawn into a world of make-believe. In the best performances it is as if life is breathed into these figures. For a time we enter their world and are moved by their emotions.
The ‘magic’ of the puppet performance lies in the staging, the mechanics that bring these characters to life. Performance Gallery stages seven puppet traditions from around the world – some use water, some use light to hide the strings or rods that link puppet and puppeteer.
Performance is about people, the startling ability of humans to create themselves, to change, to become what they ordinarily are not. It is part of being human to be a performer.
Around the world, across cultures, humans transform themselves, take on roles, re-present themselves to others. We become performers. We do this for countless reasons perhaps to entertain, or to re-enact age-old religious beliefs, perhaps to confirm our place in our society.
The Performance Gallery stages a procession of eight performances from around the world. It uses the props and costumes which once transformed a person into a performer.
Performers, Spectators, Makers
Performance happens in every culture around the world. It takes place in public places of worship, in theatres, on the streets, in town squares, in our homes. It requires people: those who transform themselves and those who watch. It also requires those who make the costumes, the masks, the instruments, the puppets, the ritual objects.
The Performance Gallery explores the roles of performers, spectators and makers.