by Gardzienice from Poland
The Annex
April 7 - 24, 2005
Thursday - Saturday 7:30pm
Sunday - 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Based on Euripides' "Elektra"

Box office 212.475.7710

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 talent.”
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" to Gardzienice.

Gardzienice Worshop 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 time
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
Cost: $75

Territories of Gardzienice Film Series
Film Series about the 27 years of Performance, Research and Training of Gardzienice
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 companies.

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.



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 night-running.
- Vocal and musical techniques both from antiquity and from living indigenous traditions.
- Work with ancient Greek iconography and chironomia or “Art of the Gesture.”
- 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/

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