In:quest of Icarus
2 Dec 2012

stedelijk|special events
In:quest of Icarus
December 2, 2012

Public rehearsals:
Nov. 29, 10 am – 6 pm (at Kunstverein, Amsterdam)
Nov. 30, 1.30 pm – 6 pm (at Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)
Dec. 1, 10 am – 6 pm (at Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)

Theater performance In:quest of Icarus:
Dec. 2, 4 – 5 pm (at Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)

Language: English
Entrance: Visitors only pay entrance to the museum (special discounts apply).
Reservations: Please note that the rehearsals are public, and no reservations are necessary. It is necessary to have a reservation for the theater performance. Send an e-mail to, stating your full name, e-mail address, telephone number, and the date of the event for which you want to reserve a seat.

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Kunstverein Amsterdam, in collaboration with designer James Langdon, proudly present In:quest of Icarus, a theater play in the Teijin Auditorium at the Stedelijk on December 2, 2012. In the days prior to the re-staging of this historical piece by Norman Potter, the audience is invited to watch the rehearsals and the construction of the theater set and props that are used in the play itself. The construction is executed by design students at the Werkplaats Typgrafie (Arnhem) and the Sandberg Institute (Amsterdam) and supervised by Langdon.

“In:quest of Icarus is a tragedy; a contemporary work written of and from a contemporary situation and drawing upon Greek myth to illuminate certain aspects of that situation.”

Norman Potter (1923-1995) was an English designer and educator. In 1964, Potter co-founded the Construction School, an experimental design course at the West of England College of Art in Bristol, England. His bold program de-emphasized specialization in design and encouraged practical collaboration between disciplines. The school’s brief history was burdened by resistance to Potter’s ideas at every level of the educational institution. Colored by this resistance, as well as his involvement in the student protests of 1968, Potter’s thoughts on the structure of design education became increasingly anti-authoritarian.

The theater play In:quest of Icarus is a complex and allegorical reflection on these experiences. Potter describes the work as concerned with “walls, barriers, both of languages and hardware; the codes people use to protect their identity and to make random experiences ordered and comprehensible; the occasional wisdom of foolishness; freedoms and imprisonments; and so forth.” It is Potter’s only play, and has been performed only once, by students at the Construction School on December 5, 1974. The work at the Stedelijk and Kunstverein is staged by students at the Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem and the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam.

The design of the Auditorium and props follow the visual language and apparatus of the typewriter, on which the play was composed. The configuration of the Auditorium is a representation of the typewriter, with the audience actively implicated in the position of the keys, described by Potter as “the alphabetic possibilities of the spoken and written language.” The staging is prepared by the performers themselves, and the four-day process of construction, rehearsal, and performance together constitutes the work.

In:quest of Icarus is organized by James Langdon in partnership with Kunstverein and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, in the context of the exhibition Construction School featuring Icarus, Kunstverein, September 8 – December 2, 2012.  For more information about the exhibition, please visit