THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN is a multilayered chamber
piece about mass possession, sin, and redemption, inspired by Aldous Huxley's
historical treatise. The story centers on a group of 17th century Ursuline
nuns who, inspired by their Prioress, Sister Jeanne des Anges, became
officially "possessed" and were forced to undergo public exorcisms.
Blame for the nuns' behavior was placed on the cavalier and charismatic
priest, Urbain Grandier. Guilty of sins of the flesh but not of the devil,
and burdened with enemies at the highest levels of French society, Grandier
was imprisoned, tortured, and ultimately martyred. Eventually, Jeanne's
visions of devils were replaced by an apparition of Saint Joseph, and
she became "miraculously" marked with stigmata. She cultivated
the career of a mystic and lived famed and respected for many years.
DEVILS, in development for five years, has grown from a strictly movement-based
performance piece into a ritualized integration of text, music, and movement
that makes for a compelling, visceral, and rewarding experience for actors
and audience alike. The text has been compiled from a variety of sacred
and classic sources, including Goethe, Milton, Luther, Calderon, Petrarch,
Donne, the Nag Hammadi Library, Swami Vivekananda, and the Bible. The
abundant vocal music comes from a wide range of Medieval and Renaissance
sources, including Machaut, Codex Las Huelgas, Le Jeune, Attaignant, Victoria,
Aquinas, and von Bingen. Elements of sacred movement and traditional dance,
as well as techniques from mime, Commedia dell'Arte, and Meyerhold, have
been integrated into the staging. The overall effect is to create layers
of detail that will make each audience member's experience of the piece
unique and unforgettable.
DZIECI (djyeh-chee) is an international experimental theatre ensemble,
founded in 1997, dedicated to a search for the "sacred" through
the medium of theatre. DZIECI aims to vigilantly uphold Stanislavski's
maxim: "We must love not ourselves in art, but art in ourselves."
Towards this aim, the ensemble balances its work on performance with work
of service through creative and therapeutic interaction with patients
in a variety of institutional settings. DZlECI believes that by helping
others, a profound healing effect is generated that not only serves the
patient, but strengthens the ensemble's work.
DZIECI Artistic Director Matt Mitler was originally trained in Humanistic
Psychology, studying with R.D. Laing and Carl Rogers. His theatrical experience
includes work with Jerzy Grotowski and the Polish Theatre Laboratory,
and additional work with Richard Cieslak, Grotowski's lead actor. He has
designed and directed more than 50 theatrical productions in the U.S.
and Europe, and his work has been presented at major international festivals,
including Festival Mondial du Theatre and The Theatre of Nations. His
1995 film "Cracking Up" garnered many awards, including Best
Film at The Venice International Film Festival Critic's Week, and People's
Choice at the New York Underground Film Festival. He is also profiled
in "Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of
Actors" by Retta Blaney.
In addition, DZIECI will be offering performances of FOOL'S MASS on Sundays
at 2:30pm. In this work, a group of medieval village idiots are forced
to enact the mass on their own due to the sudden death of their beloved
pastor, an extraordinary man who had given them shelter and taught them
to sing. Though it sounds grim, the piece is full of buffoonery and comic
audience participation. This, along with choral singing of sacred hymns
and chants from the 8th through the 17th centuries, combine to create
a work which travels from the ridiculous to the sublime. The piece has
been performed seasonally at Grace Episcopal Church in Manhattan since
1998. Reverend Mario Martinez, Vicar Priest at the church has said, "All
priests should experience this complex, delightful, and rich theatrical
"DZIECI" is the Polish word for "Children".