Performance based on the materials of the research project “Ideal Theatre,” realized in 2018, at the Les Kurbas National Theater Arts Center, Kyiv, Ukraine
This is a search for theater where it isn’t theater yet – or anymore. This is theater that speaks of its own impossibility. This is the theater’s destruction through profanation, shattering the myth, tearing it away from ritual and liberating the action (playing).
Those who speak have a place at the table; they occupy a prominent position and status. The silent ones stay on the periphery – there is no place for them. Topology plays a definitive role here. The duration of speech and movement (silence and stillness) also becomes topological. The speakers and movers do not meet; they cannot become one another’s Other. But they do communicate, or, rather, they COULD communicate – through an intermediary: the viewer. Perception is a function of attention, and the latter gives weight to words as well as to bodies. While the human imagination is an instrument of the body and its imagination.
“The ideal theater pushes us toward the very idea of theater, to its theater-ness, if we can imagine such a thing. But a thing always contains the idea of itself, otherwise it would cease to be that thing. In other words, any theater performance already contains the idea of theater. Yet we cannot think about theater without reflecting on its history. And thinking about its history means thinking about numerous attempts to finish with theater.” (Mariana Matveichuk, researcher in culture studies, on Symposium)
TanzLaboratorium surveyed theater audiences about the elements comprising their vision of “ideal theater.” Questions included: What should be on stage? How many words and movements should be in the performance? How long is it? What is it about? What is the atmosphere like? What is the actor's attitude toward the audience?
Around 300 respondents took part in the survey (on-line and in person). Among several artistic works based on the people's answers, we produced the performance Symposium, in which 1 director, 1 actor, 3 dancers and the audience participated. During the performance, the director holds a press conference reporting on the project materials; the actor plays excerpts from the works of several classic playwrights and poets; the dancers are simultaneously characters (human and non-human creatures) and a living stage decor, and the audience members create the theater piece in their own minds.
In Symposium we used texts and fragments from works by Les’ Podereviansky, Heiner Mueller, Mykola Kulish, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Sukhovo-Kobylin, Shakespeare, Dante, Plato.
Tamara Trunova, director
Akmal Gurezov, actor
Excerpts from the Project Materials:
“In my ideal theater, the actors are indifferent to the audience, and on stage there is a creature acting. The performance has no play and lasts over an hour; its theme is the Other. The theme is addressed cynically, with no words, but lots of movements and inarticulate sounds. There are five scene changes. The actors listen to each other and silence takes up 70% of the time. Everything is happening on an existential level in an atmosphere of alienation.” (Student of the National Academy of Art and Architecture, female, age 28)
“A piece of music is the basis of my ideal theater performance. But there is no music in it, just silence – up to 100%. The people acting on a well-lit stage may make 10 movements and say 16 words in everyday language, while listening to each other, during the 10-minute-long performance. I don't know what the theme should be, but it should be addressed playfully on a global scale and existential level. The mise-en-scene should change more than five times. The actors are wary of the audience. Everything takes place in the atmosphere of a Maxim Gorky play.” (Respondent with higher technical education, male, age 35)
“There is no play. The performance lasts 40 minutes. The theme involves anthropocentrism and guilt, addressed through affect. There are words in the performance – plenty of them, and movements, too. The language onstage is literary. The actors don't listen to each other. 50% is silence. Over five set changes. The action is on an existential level. There must be people on stage. The atmosphere is one of nakedness.” (History professor, female, age 50)
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