|I AM AN|
The Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards
|YOUR DESCRIPTION LANGUAGE(S)|
|INFO IN ENGLISH||
OPEN PROGRAM OF THE WORKCENTER OF JERZY GROTOWSKI AND THOMAS RICHARDS
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski was founded in 1986 at the invitation of the Centro per la Sperimentazione e la Ricerca Teatrale of Pontedera, Italy (now: Teatro della Toscana – Centro per la Sperimentazione e la Ricerca Teatrale), its directors Roberto Bacci and Carla Pollastrelli. At the Workcenter, Grotowski developed a line of “performance research” known as Art as vehicle for 13 years until his death in 1999. Within this creative investigation, he worked very closely with Thomas Richards whom he called his “essential collaborator,” eventually changing the name of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski to include that of Richards. During those years of intense practical work, Grotowski transmitted to Richards the fruit of his lifetime research, what he called “the inner aspect of the work.” Grotowski entrusted Richards and Mario Biagini, a key member of the Workcenter team since its beginnings and presently its Associate Director, as the sole legatees of his Estate, including his entire body of written work, specifying this designation as a confirmation of his “family of work.” Since Grotowski’s passing in 1999, Richards and Biagini have been continuing to develop the Workcenter’s performing arts research in new directions.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards presently hosts three creative teams: Thomas Richards’ Focused Research Team in Art as vehicle, The Workcenter studio in residence, and the Open Program directed by Mario Biagini.
From 2007 till 2015 Open Program has been working creatively utilizing as textual material the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, in an attempt to rediscover the living aspect of the poetic word as a tool for contact and action, and, through its rhythmical and sonic qualities, its complexity of meanings and the ways in which these specificities can manifest within the performative practice of the actors. Starting from Ginsberg’s poems, the members of the Open Program composed countless actions and songs, embracing different musical styles and genres, reflecting the artistic variety and versatility of the group. Other artistic material was created from the work on songs of tradition of the South of the United States, exploring the ways in which these songs can trigger performative processes thanks to their potentialities as catalyzers for contact and interaction.
These two threads of work gave birth to a deep well of creative material which was eventually organized and composed into four diverse performative pieces: I Am America, Electric Party Songs, Not History’s Bones – A Poetry Concert and The Nightwatch. These different forms of performative events (a theatrical piece, a cabaret-style concert, a full-fledged concert and an all-night-watch) are not actually performed at the moment, but they were an important and instrumental step in developing the current stage of the team’s research.
Presently, the encounters and performing events proposed by the Open Program are created starting from the work on songs from the Afro-American tradition of the South of the United States and the Afro-Hispanic tradition of South America. Moreover, a new work by the women of the team, with the working title Dark is My Mother, is being created, drawing from a number of different traditional sources reflecting the cultural and ethnical diversity of the group.
The team of the Open Program aims to rediscover the living aspect of performance as a tool for inter-human contact and personal transformation, beyond cultural and social differences.
The Open Program team is: Mario Biagini (Italy), Thomas Gasser (Austria), Agnieszka Kazimierska (Poland), Pauline Laulhe (France), Eduardo Landim (Brasil), Felicita Marcelli (Italy), Daniel Mattar (Lebanon), Jorge Romero Mora (Colombia), Graziele Sena Da Silva (Brasil).
The Hidden Sayings
The potential explored by this work manifests through basic, simple and yet complex elements – action, contact, word, singing, dance. We have the intuition that the nature of this work may create conditions for an encounter to take place.
This new and old performative art form disrupts the common western notion of a choir and questions our assumptions about community, belonging, identity, diversity, cultural appropriation, performance. During the Open Choir, songs begin around the participants, who are faced with simple choices: to witness, to move into the space of action, to follow remaining to the side, to sing and dance, and to find their own way to be present and support the work of the others. The songs themselves, their rhythms and melodies help to initiate engagement. The effect of the event encircles everyone in attendance, while the core group aids participants by articulating the space and leading the songs, actively building the evening together in present time.
Dark Is My Mother
She’s there and she’s here. You can find her in every house.
Dark Is My Mother is a serious and playful homage to the diverse manifestations of the ancient and powerful tradition of popular myth related to a feminine entity. It explores the tradition of women’s gatherings and women’s communities, it opens to a world where women’s play, imaginations, memories and temptations are woven into song, dance and praising.
FOUR SOLOS – IN PROGRESS
Story of Katie
The story of a Lady. And her Beloved. And a return. A tale of a garden. And a home.
Times of awaiting and time of becoming. A young woman, accompanied by two foreign servants, spends her days in a garden of wonders. Everyday, visitors pass by to speak with her. They come “from around, and from past and future.”
But who are all these characters that converse with her day and night? Are they real persons or figments of her vivid imagination? And who is the mysterious Beloved – her Lord – she is so intently waiting for? Waiting for the day and the hour of their reunion.
Based on ancient sources of Gnostic and Arabic literature, original dialogs and traditional songs from Poland, the piece tells the story of a longing, of a nameless desire for someone to come, or to come back. It’s the story of a journey. He went away on a journey and will perhaps return. And she who is waiting is on a journey as well.
Facing lights and shadows of one’s own life story can bring us closer to remembering where one belongs to, or push us to ask ourselves: Where does it all come from? When will we arrive home? Or become home?
After four years of work together, the director of the Open Program, Mario Biagini, proposed to me to start working on traditional songs from the Brazilian tradition of Candomblé.
And I discovered that when one faces one’s own emptiness, there the search begins.
The songs of the Afro-Brazilian tradition are part of an ancestral history that reached only a few persons of the younger generations. Many grandmothers and grandfathers in the past were also Mães and Pais de Santo – Priestesses and Priests – who stood up for all those who were deported from Africa to Brazil.
Can we discover the possibility of a subconscious memory transmitted to people belonging to a certain lineage through stories and symbols, songs and dances, prayers and rhythms, gestures and behaviours?
The work on the ancient songs of my lineage is a search for a secret and intimate path that leads consciously to the door of these subconscious memories. The journey is delicate; it has to do with imagination, with the search for small details of behaviour that point towards an unknown direction. My desire is to discover what exists deep within my tradition, what is the relation between a tradition and an individual, the essence of one’s own being.
Blurred memories of early childhood, imagination and playfulness, but also a space for creation based on dreams, ideas, desires, stories… For me, it is necessary to start from acknowledging and paying homage to the ones who came before me.
My ancestors. This search may point to a path in the direction of something so complex that it can only be understood through practice and living impulses.
I start from songs of tradition, the domains of a collective memory, to find my own history, a history that I was not told.
A special night in a humble house in the Colombian countryside: it’s the celebration of the Nativity. The family is preparing to receive several visits in the course of the evening. Relatives, neighbours and close friends will gather in the house in the name of the Child who is going to be born.
The members of this extended family tell one another about events and stories, the story of the birth of the Child, but also other tales about his infancy, his youth, his life and death. In this simple house, while everyone is waiting for Midnight, myth and life meet. Each father becomes a Joseph the artisan; each woman in mourning becomes a crying Mary, each man who cares for a child a Saint Anthony, and each grandma taking care of the kids, a Saint Anna.
This work is composed of elements from the African diaspora, specifically stemming from the pacific coast of Colombia and Ecuador, and texts from the Christian tradition, mainly the Gospels of Childhood but also the canonic Scriptures.
What is the alive relation that still exists between a two thousand year old story, and the reality of a simple family from South America? And how this distant story has became a symbol that gives meaning to the daily life of the people?
The Story Of The Occidental Exile
By Daniel Mattar (Lebanon)
When I became aware of the story of Hay Ibn Yaqzan, despite the admirable sentences it contains and the deep suggestions it contains, I found it devoid of lights related to the supreme experience: the big shock.
I tell my occidental exile and I relive it. Since my departure from my original land, the country of the nascent Sun, my captivity in the city of Qayrawan, my evasion, my encounter with the hoopoe who guided my steps, until my navigation on Noa’s ship.
To relive the story, I sometimes sing, sometimes tell it. I sometimes recall coranic verses sang or spoken, to let the story behind the story appear.
Sometimes, traditional arabic songs, mounajat, lamentations, psalms, lullabies, or soufi songs find their way and mark the story of Sohravardi.
Beside the deep sense it contains, the story becomes that of any exiled person and in search of her own country, or the story of a soul searching for her origins, her Orient.
From the text of Sohravardi, I tell the story of the occidental exile to myself, to those who are listening or would like to listen, present and absent, close or far.
It is about me that it is in this Story because I went through the catastrophe. From the upper space I fell into the abyss of hell. I am held prisoner in the country of the Occident. Yet I continue to experience some sweetness that I am unable to describe. I sobbed, I implored, I sighed with regret on this separation. This fast relaxation was one of those dreams that quickly.fade.away.
PEDAGOGY AND OUTREACH
Documentary Film and Video Presentations
Symposia and Seminars
“The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards is active within the structure of Teatro della Toscana – Centro per la Sperimentazione e la Richerca Teatrale“
|REFERENCE CONTACT E-MAIL|
004369915071055 (Thomas Gasser)
https://it.linkedin.com/in/mariobiagini (Director of the Open Program)