Workshop by Gardzienice and Territories of Gardzienice Film Series at La
MaMa E.T.C. - see
below for more info
The world renowned Polish theater company Gardzienice Center for Theatre
Practices, founded and led by Wlodzimierz Staniewski, returns to LaMaMa
to debut April 7 to 24 with "Elektra" by Euripides. The company
last appeared in NY in 2001 with "Metamorphosis" at LaMaMa, a
production which played to standing room houses for two weeks only. Their
premier of “Elektra” continues Mr. Staniewski’s exploration
of Ancient Greek music and iconography and explores such profound themes
as the misery of exile, the craving of revenge, the taboo of incest and
the endless struggle for freedom.
Gardzienice has been credited with creating a unique genre of theatrical
culture based on musicality, theatrical dynamism, and gesture. Staniewski's
work is known for its synchronistic interweaving of text, gesture, and
body movement. Richard Schechner, Editor of The Drama Review and Professor
of Performance Studies, Tisch School for the Arts, NYU has written, “Gardzienice
[is] one of Poland's-and the world's-premiere experimental theatre companies...[they]
constitute the very heart and essence of Polish experimental and anthropological
performance.” Richard Lanier, Director of The Trust for Mutual Understanding,
adds, “For the past two decades, one of the brightest lights on
the Polish theatrical scene has been Gardzienice, whose work has been
of consistently outstanding quality and whose influence has spread to
actors, performers, students, and the general public, East and West...a
superb performing group as well as an excellent nurturer of theatrical
In discussing the origins of “Elektra,” Wlodzimierz Staniewski
relates, “At the beginning I wanted to make a performance about
Euripides himself and the despair of a creative process.” He and
Mariusz Golaj, the co-creator of the performance, chose to view the revenge
story of Electra from the perspective of today’s epidemic of violence.
“It has all of the required references,” says Staniewski,
“the secret of female nature and the secret of the turning of the
murderous spiral. Similar to what is happening today, what we see in the
news on television, of the things we read in the press – of demons
which seem uncontrollable, demons that erupt unprecedented and condemn
us, people, to do horrible things.”
“Electra” is a tragedy of revenge: the title character and
her brother, Orestes, dare for revenge on their mother for their father,
Aigisthos’, murder. Throughout the play, Euripides, the author/protagonist
of “Elektra,” takes witness while musing and obsessing over
the complexity of human nature, its darkness and light. The “classical
text” is fully brought to life, “to resurrect it in its full
organic form, including the layers of tone, music, and gesture.”
Staniewski transforms performance narrative into physicality, gestures,
action and movement, breaking the texts to its essence, its essential
rhythm and color. The spectator is taken into a fully visceral world,
where the story is told through this non-linear performance language.
The past, present and future collide, adding intensity and explosive theatricality
to the story.
Musicality in the works of Gardzienice replaces verbal discourse and
its works are best viewed as living creations. Founded in 1978, the troupe
has created only eight separate major productions to-date, but it must
be kept in mind that its work is evolutionary and therefore cannot be
directly compared with conventional theater productions. These productions
have emerged as a vital force and have made an immense impact throughout
Europe, North America and the Far East. The Company made expeditions to
remote rural communities, in Poland and in the rest of Europe, looking
for indigenous songs, myths, rituals and an oral history of the civilization.
“Elektra” constitutes the next stage of Gardzienice’s
research on the origins of theatre, the first performance initiated by
its acclaimed “Metamorphosis.”
In recent years, Gardzienice has conducted their work in Britain (including
Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare company), Sweden, Germany, Japan (at
Suzuki’s Toga Festival), Egypt (where Staniewski was awarded Egypt’s
medal for outstanding contribution to the world theatre), Brazil, United
States, Russia, Spain and other countries.
Gardzienice collaborates closely with Double Edge Theatre of MA, which
has co-produced its US productions to-date. Double Edge performed "The
UnPOSSESSED," an adaptation of "Don Quixote," this fall
at La MaMa and earned many affirming press notices. The troupe, led by
Stacy Klein, is considered a sort of "artistic first cousin"
at La MaMa E.T.C.
Dates: April 19th, 6-9pm, and 20th, 10-1pm
This two-day intensive workshop is an opportunity to experience
Gardzienice’s 27-year-old performance methodology for the first
in the United States since 2001. Participants will have a rare chance
to explore firsthand the company’s extremely dynamic actor training,
mutuality exercises, vocal and musicality techniques, work with
ancient Greek iconography and etude work. Enrollment for this workshop
is limited and reservations can be made through the Double Edge
Theatre website at: http://www.doubleedgetheatre.org/calendar.html#4
Territories of Gardzienice Film Series
Film Series about the 27 years of Performance, Research and Training of
April 11 & 18, 7:30 at
the La MaMa Annex
The film series will cover both the dynamic and extraordinary performance
work of the groundbreaking group over the past 27 years, as well as documentaries
about their research expeditions with Andre Gregory in the late 1970s,
to current development of their physical and musical original theatre
training and techniques.
On the evening of April 11th, the 1979 film by Andre Gregory about the
group, entitled “Gardzienice,” will begin the special event
and will be followed by a film about the group’s unique training.
On April 18th, the focus will shift to performances of Gardzienice, beginning
with their landmark performance, “Avvakum,” and followed by
“Metamorphoses, According to Apuleius.”
The films are a living testimony to the evolution and development of
one of the world’s oldest and most important experimental theatre
During these 27 years the company has created only six performances.
According to the standards of a traditional theatre company, six performances
is not much. However, traditional theatres never put so much effort into
their work, both in terms of pure theatre, workshops and research. Traditional
companies put on stage works of art - "Gardzienice" creates
them. Gardzienice was a pioneer in the trend of cultural research expeditions
into, say, the Carpathian Mountains, an artistic endeavor which embarked
on grasping, in many different ways, the cultural potential inherent in
these areas traditionally regarded as marginal or obsolete. To see the
films of “Territories of Gardzienice” is to travel along side
them during their process and fully grasp the building of their work and
their group. The documentaries and films, presented by guest artists and
scholars who have participated and collaborated with the group over the
years, are as beautiful, strange and dynamic as all aspects of this group’s
work, while articulating their profound theatre making process. Any aficionados
of Polish Theatre, or simply fans of Gardzienice, will not want to miss
this special opportunity to catch these films while they are in the US.
AN INTENSIVE SUMMER WORK SESSION WITH THE
STANIEWSKI CENTER FOR THEATER PRACTICES „GARDZIENICE”
JUNE 15 – 25, 2005
The Staniewski Center for Theater Practices (Osrodek Praktyk Teatralnych
Gardzienice) is one of the oldest and most renowned experimental theater
ensembles in the world. For the last 27 years it has based itself in a
tiny village in rural eastern Poland, but performances and workshops have
taken it abroad to theaters and festivals all around the world. The company
has become well-known for its rigorous investigation of folk and ancient
musical traditions, its powerful physical and vocal techniques, its commitment
to the creation of theater in a natural environment, and its emphasis
on principles of mutuality and musicality.
In the summer of 2005, the Staniewski Center for Theater Practices will
invite fifteen people of diverse ages and nationalities to live, work,
and train intensively with the company for 10 days. The participants in
this work session will be deeply immersed in the current projects of the
Center for Theater Practices as well as learning about its rich history.
The experience will include:
- The company’s actor training methods, mutuality exercises, and
- Vocal and musical techniques both from antiquity and from living indigenous
- Work with ancient Greek iconography and chironomia or “Art of
- Individual, partner, and group “etudes.”
- Performances of Elektra – based on Euripides.
- Open rehearsals and work demonstrations or “theatrical essays.”
- Films documenting the company’s history and expeditions.
- An excursion to the most interesting sites of the Lublin area.
- In the work session will take part group of young polish students of
Academy of Theatre Practices “Gardzienice”
There will be approximately six hours of work each day, beginning around
10am. Meals will be taken together, as a time to gather and discuss. Participants
will live in family houses in the village of Gardzienice, with two or
three people to a room, simple conditions, and warm relations with the
hosts. The theatrical work takes place in the context of nature and the
everyday life of this small Polish village. Training and exercises are
done indoors and outdoors, in the meadows and forests.
The cost for this work session will be $500.
This includes all transportation, fees, and expenses during the session.
It does not include international travel to Poland.
If you would like to participate, please send a letter of interest, CV
and photo by May 1, 2005 to:
(include “summer intensive” in the subject line)
Staniewski Center for Theatre Practices “Gardzienice”
ul. Grodzka 5a, 20-112 Lublin, Poland
+48 (81) 532-9840 or 532-9637
For more information, please go to http://www.gardzienice.art.pl/