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The Camouflage Project
From Thursday, May 19, 2011 -  03:30pm
To Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 12:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43201

Camouflage Project Image on Interrogation

Lesley Ferris

Mary Tarantino

To see streaming videos of this event, visit our Event Recording Page for the various conference segments.



Lesley Ferris, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre

Mary Tarantino, Professor, Department of Theatre



The goal of The Camouflage Project is to create, organize and execute a three-part interdisciplinary endeavor linked to the theme of secret agents, camouflage, deception and disguise in World War II, specifically the F section (France) of the Special Operations Executive (SOE).  The three parts are as follows:


Performance: To devise a new performance work as collaboration between Ohio State University Theatre and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).  This will be a multimedia work combining digital animations and video projections with experimental use of 3D printing, 3D scanning and projection mapping.


Exhibition: To create a visual environment parallel to the performance space, that will have a second life as an exhibition.  The exhibit features historical background (interviews and soldier training films) on the science and art of camouflage in both World Wars organized around a visual study of selected SOE (principally female) agents and espionage circuits in France, examples of military equipment, devices, disguises, gadgets and weapons of deception.


Symposium: To organize and host an international symposium on the multiple artistic and instrumental meanings of camouflage, to be held in May 2011. The symposium features panels of Ohio State and international experts from military history, political science, and the Imperial War Museum addressing the subject of camouflage and the SOE.


The camouflage project offers a fresh meaning to the expression "theatre of war." On one level it theatricalizes the history of military camouflage, particularly the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the role played by women agents in its espionage activity.  On another it reveals the artistic dimensions of these activities: a variety of theatre artists — scenic, costume, make-up designers, and vaudeville magicians — were employed to use their theatrical skills to deceive and fool the enemy. 


In 1942 a group of New York scene designers created The Camouflage Society of Professional Stage Designers, hiring two specialists to teach them the art and science of camouflage. Rather than tales of derring-do and spying, this project seeks to look at different and often hidden aspects of the war: the use and creation of camouflage, both literally and metaphorically, by people who had to work secretly behind enemy lines.


The performance storyline will highlight the work of women agents, many of whose accomplishments have been concealed, erased or obscured for a variety of reasons.  A narrative strategy will be to include elements of the training process involved in preparing agents for the field and the often-disastrous consequences of strategic decisions made by the SOE leadership.


Keynote Address: Juliette Pattinson, University of Strathclyde



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drake Events Center

1849 Cannon Dr, Columbus, OH 43210

3:30 p.m. -- Welcoming Remarks

Mark Shanda

Thurber Theatre

3:45 p.m. -- Walk-through and tour of The Camouflage Project Exhibition

Lesley Ferris and Mary Tarantino 

Thurber Auditorium

4:30 p.m. -- Keynote Address

Moderator: John Mueller

Juliette Pattinson, "Passing as a French Native: Camouflaging the British Body in Occupied France"

Drake, Room 2038

6 p.m. -- Catered dinner

Viewpoints Lounge

7:30 p.m. -- Performance of The Camouflage Project (Tickets Required)

Thurber Theatre

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

1501 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43201

8:00 a.m. -- Coffee

9:15 a.m. -- Members of the creative team discuss devised work and verbatim 

Lesley Ferris, Mary Tarantino, Vita Berenzina-Blackburn

and Jeanine Thompson

10:30 a.m. -- Coffee

10:45 a.m. -- Selections from 2010 research video interviews

Introduction by Janet Parrott

Interviews with MRD Foot (former SOE Historian), Noreen Riols (F-Section agent), and Tania Szabo (daughter of F-Section agent Violette Szabo)

Noon -- Lunch

1 p.m. -- "Performing History: Testimony, Memoir, Documentary, and Evidence"

Student Panel of Actors/ACCAD animators; Dramaturg, Assistant Director

Moderator: Peter Cutts

3 p.m. -- Break

3:15 p.m. -- "Post War Representations: Memorializing the Women of SOE F-Section"

Kate Vigurs

Moderator: Anna Birch

4 p.m. -- Break

4:15 p.m. -- "Stumbling Into History: Reflections on the Search for Historical Identity"

Rita Kramer

Moderator: Thomas Davis

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

1501 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43201

9 a.m. -- Coffee

9:15 a.m. -- Perspectives on Camouflage

Moderator: William Childs

Roy Behrens, "Camouflage as Art and Illusion"

10:15 a.m. -- Break

10:30 a.m. -- Perspectives on Camouflage

Moderator: TBD

Dan Gray, "Theatrical Scenographers and the War Effort"

Matt Lewis, "3D Modeling, Mapping and Altering Spaces"

Beth Kattelman, "Creating Illusion in the War Effort"

Noon -- Closing Thoughts

Moderators: Lesley Ferris and Mary Tarantino

Juliette Pattinson, Jenny Morgan, William Childs, Kate Vigurs, and Rita Kramer



Roy Behrens, University of Northern Iowa

Vita Berenzina-Blackburn, The Ohio State University

Anna Birch, Royal Scottish Avademy of Music and Drama

William Childs, The Ohio State University

Peter Cutts, Actor, Writer, Director and Producer

Thomas Davis, The Ohio State University

Lesley Ferris, The Ohio State University

Dan Gray, Scenic Designer

Elizabeth Harelik, MA Candidate, The Ohio State University

Beth Kattelman, Associate Curator of Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute Theatre

Kristine Kearney, Costume Designer, The Ohio State University

Rita Kramer, Author

Matt Lewis, The Ohio State University

Eric Mayer, MFA Candidate, The Ohio State University

Jenny Morgan, Filmmaker, Editor and Journalist

John Mueller, The Ohio State University

Janet Parrott, The Ohio State University

Juliette Pattinson, University of Strathclyde

Performance Team, The Camouflage Project, The Ohio State University

Chelsea Phillips, PhD Candidate, The Ohio State University

Brian Rotman, The Ohio State University

Mark Shanda, The Ohio State University

Francesca Spedalieri, MA Candidate, The Ohio State University

Mary Tarantino, The Ohio State University

Jeanine Thompson, The Ohio State University

Kate Vigurs, Museums consultant and historical interpreter



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