Set designer to the avant-garde
Swiss Theatre Award 2020
Sylvie Kleiber was born in Lausanne in 1966 and studied architecture at EPFL. She now lives in Geneva. Since 1993 she has been working as an architect and set designer not only in Switzerland, but also in Belgium and France. She is also responsible for the scenography major on the Master in Theatre at the Manufacture (Haute école des arts de la scène) in Lausanne. Sylvie Kleiber’s interests extend to both exhibition and performance scenographies, and she is also a sought-after expert involved in the construction or renovation of various theatre venues. She worked for many years as an assistant set designer with Jacques Gabel in Paris on projects by Alain Françon, Joël Jouanneau and Philippe van Kessel. In Switzerland, she has enjoyed lengthy collaborations with Simone Audemars, Mathieu Bertholet, Maya Bösch, Guillaume Béguin and Yan Duyvendak. Sylvie Kleiber’s set designs have been omnipresent in French-speaking Switzerland’s avant-garde performing arts scene for over 20 years.
Her scenographies are at once functional and playful. In the theatre she has worked, among others, with Robert Bouvier on “Peepshow dans les Alpes” (1998) and “Saint Don Juan” (2000); Geneviève Pasquier on “A ma personnagité” (2004) and “Remember” (2006); Denis Maillefer on “Nature morte dans un fossé” and “Gênes 01” (both 2007); further creations include, with Mathieu Bertholet, “Sainte Kümmernis” (2008), “L’avenir seulement” (2011) and “Luxe, calme” (2018); with Natacha Koutchoumov “Le beau monde” (2015) and “Summer Break” (2019); she also worked with Yan Duyvendak on “Still in Paradise” (2008), “Please, Continue (Hamlet)” (2011) and “Sound of Music” (2015), created “Stations urbaines” (2006-2008), “Drames de Princesses” (2010) and “Manuel d’exil” (2020) for Maya Bösch’s company sturmfrei, and from 2010 to 2012 was an associate artist supporting the joint directorship of Maya Bösch and Michèle Pralong at GRÜ / Transthéâtre Genève. In dance, she has worked with Gilles Jobin on “Steak House” (2005), with Philippe Saire on “Black Out” (2011) and “La nuit transfigurée” (2012), and with Alexandra Bachzetsis on “Dream Season” (2008).
“Sylvie Kleiber has retained from her days as an architecture student a concern for the people who inhabit a place: their feet, their hands and their gaze. As an urbanist, she is also preoccupied with contexts and landscapes. She decodes places with the same facility as texts and people. That perceptiveness is what renders her designs so recognisable even though, from the outset, they have been located within very diverse aesthetics and networks of learning. Today, at La Manufacture, Sylvie Kleiber seeks to imbue the students of scenography under her charge with an artistic personality that is both strong and generous. They are very fortunate to have her.”
Danielle Chaperon, President of the jury