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Transcript of Holiness_Documentation
Neo-Avantgarde in the 1960s
Friedemann Kreuder (Mainz) / Sharon Aronson-Lehavi (Bar-Ilan)
Selling Salvation: Priests and Charlatans
Stefan Hulfeld (Vienna) / Pavel Drábek (Hull)
The Rhetoric of Faith in Cultural Discourse
Steve Wilmer (Dublin) / Mariusz Bartosiak (Łódz)
Profanation and Play: Negotiating Ethics in Contemporary Performance
Alan Read (London) / Michael Bachmann (Mainz)
Excursion to Cologne
Excursion to Mainz
Victoria Carroll (King's College London), Keith Hennessey, Saliva (1989).
Georg Molnar (University of Vienna), Aki Kaurismäki, The Man Without a Past (2002).
Dorota Scislewska (University of Lodz), Blasphemous Lyrics. Playing Black Metal in Iraq.
Jana Dolecki (University of Vienna), Mate Matisic, Fine Dead Girls (2012).
Edyta Bednarek (University of Lodz), Tearing the Bible in Poland - Nergal (2007), Marilyn Manson (2012).
Justyna Piechota (University of Lodz), III Furies, Marcin Liber, (2011).
Louise Lowe, Laundry (2011).
Theatre No99, Unified Estonia (2010).
Romeo Castellucci, On The Concept Of The Face (2010).
Caryl Churchill, Seven Jewish Children (2009).
Mariusz Trelinski, King Roger (2007).
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Behzti (2004).
This seminar explored the relationship between the sacred and the profane as set out by Giorgio Agamben’s 2007 text In Praise of Profanation which claims that the sacred is separated from the people and the nation until we act to profane it. Through close analysis of a plethora of sources, we examined the ways that performance can dislocate the sacred from the realm of the religious and transport it to the stage, a space where the audience may participate in the profanation of previously separated objects, institutions, subjects, and ideas. For example, Louise Lowe’s 2011 piece Laundry allows the audience to enter a once sacred Catholic site, the controversial Magdalene Laundry in Ireland, and participate in, and even redirect, narratives of religious abuse which were meant to remain unknown. This performance of profanation bridges the divide between the homogeneous Catholic Church and secular society.
From this we moved onto the phenomenon of the sacralization of politics, which often emerges through the creation of national myths and involves the implementation of sacred symbolism into national and political rhetoric and events. Theatre No99’s performance Unified Estonia stages a political spectacle (in this instance a party rally) using religious iconography. By emulating the techniques of totalitarian regimes they demonstrate the ways in which the political becomes the religious.
We progressed from a discussion of national identities to personal experiences of cultural identity. We debated the limits of a variety of cultural models, for example culture as a single, homogeneous entity (Johann Gottfried Von Herder) and as a transcultural network (Wolfgang Welsch) and how they impacted upon individual, cultural, and national constructions of self.
Dariusz Leśnikowski (Łódź)
Agamben, Georgio: Profanations. New York: Zone Books. 2007
Butler, Judith: Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violience. London, New York: Verso. 2006
Taussig, Michael: Defacement- Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1999
Read, Alan: The Theatre & The Poor. Upcoming
Rancière, Jacques: The Emancipated Spectator. London, New York: Verso. 2009
Does the Holiness exist
outside the God?
An excurse to the history of the alternative theatre groups and movements in Poland 1960s-1980s (Reduta Theatre, Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre, Wierszalin Theatre, the works of Tadeusz Kantor and others). Performances of the Living Theatre.
(With video and photo presentation)
Exercises for practical understanding of the principles of the actors existing on the stage in the theatres of this type.
- Breaking the physical and psychical obstacles
- Integrating the group into community
Creation of a short performance
„The biggest moving church machine“
Modern God (s)
Rituals today (The contemporary
social-political “rituals” inspired by
the religious sphere)
The usage of the sacral words
in the everyday language
Exercises practised by Augusto Boal
Creating a final performance
Our attitude to the Holiness
(Expressing the character of everyday social-political rituals as the substitution of the religious events)
Participants about the workshop
“Interesting distinction between the different ways of using words that used to be religious but became pagan and even vulgar.”
„Every participant should invent a movement or a gesture connected with individual sound to get it in one chorus of the church machine”.
„The creation of the holy actor according to Grotowski consists of revealing the innermost part of the actor, what allows the theater to become a secret encounter between the actor and the spectator”.
„I found that in my culture there is no curse/bad words, associated with the holy/saint figures”.
„Certain exercises were designed to help people escape from ordinary constrains and their protective individuality by giving all of their weight or sight or agency to another individual(s)”.
The workshop is devoted to analyzing the term Holiness and its meaning and usage in the modern life and culture. It consists of both theoretical and practical parts.
LIST OF TERMS
Fetishization; acousmatic voice; gaze; actor/spectator; spectatorship; poor theater; emancipated spectator; representation, humanization, dehumanization; face; impuls to kill/mimetic desire
losing faith/face; displacement; defacement; iconoclasm; de/re/figuration; mask; inter/narrative identity; tableaux vivants; profanation; the sacred/the profane; secularization; objectification/subjectification; witness; capitalism; pseudo-action; immunity; concreteness; sanctity; polisemic systems; recognition
TALK BY ALAN READ
First, we watched a video recording of the performance by Romeo Castellucci entitled "On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God", staged in Essen in 2010. Im-mediately after having watched the play we were asked to share our spontaneous re-flections and remarks on what we saw. The most common observation referred to the relation of the sacred and the profane.
The first dimension of this relation pertained to the figure of the son who takes care of his suffering father. We focused on the question of his association with Jesus (as the picture of him filled the background of the stage) and the notion of sacrifice on his part. The theory of René Girard helped us to conceptualize our comments.
The second dimension related to inscribing the protagonists into the realm of capi-talism. Both characters and the stage design had a critical subtext on capitalism as religion as described by Walter Ben-jamin. Within this framework we identified white furniture as fetishized objects where-as we find the ambivalence of the image of Jesus as a part of symbolic and material order. In terms of spatiality we highlighted the importance of domestic space as a basic economic principle.
Furthermore, we concentrated on the aural aspect of the play in the context of the profane and the sacred. We underlined the importance of the sound as attack on re-ligion visualized with the help of the image of Christ. At the same time we raised the topic of synesthesia and its crucial role in artistic endeavors. Moreover, we found Castellucci's idea of olfactory stimulation of the audience to be extremely relevant. The artist used artificial faeces which was im-possible to distinguish from the genuine one.
Our initial analysis of the per-formance was followed by Alan Read's talk on ethics and politics in theater. In his re-flection he engaged with Castellucci's performance by looking at London 'Occupy' Protests and the musical "Les Miserables." The idea comes from his new book "The The-ater and Its Poor". He con-sidered the poor in theo-logical and economic sense as waste of capitalism. He also pointed out that theater allows for connecting as a community but there is a distance between the au-dience and the stage which enables them immunity.
On the next day we picked up Alan Read's remarks on spectatorship and put them into play with the ideas of Jacques Ranciére. In the latter essay "The Emancipated Spectator" the author emphasized the role of the active audience which he regards to be subversive in relation to politics. He argues for replacing of the role of the actor with that of the spectator and vice versa. For him audience's re-negotiating of the meaning and being included in the theater performance are constitutive elements of being a spectator. We found problems with Ranciére's concept, especially in the light of Alan Read's idea of 'emaciated spectator', which claims that the audience is never as engaged in the action of the theatrical event as the actors are.
THE ETHICS OF THE FACE
Then we moved on to the concept of 'face' and its ethical dimension which we referred to two terms: 'gaze' and 'witness'. For example in Judith Butler's "Precarious Life 'gaze' works as a call to identity or action. We found equally ethical the role of 'witness' whose authority is to report back on what he/she experiences.
In addition, we examined the concept of representation' versus humanization' /'dehumanization' in the context of Castellucci's performance. The key concept we engaged with in the discussion was Emmanuel Levinas's notion of 'face'. It helped us to problematize whether the projected image of Jesus can or should be regarded as human. This led us to the discussion on representation and Butler's ideas of 'face' as a series of displacements. Indeed, in Castellucci's performance we witness such a phenomenon. For example, Jesus's image is a painting in a rich man's house, then it becomes a religious icon the protagonist prays in front of and finally it turns into the object of defacement.
The final stage of the seminar was devoted to the notion of defacement in the context of Castellucci's performance. The main problem was to indicate what constituted the subject of defacement and when the defacement started. The first question seemed to be whether the inclusion of Jesus's image alone is a defacement as it was perceived by the protesters in numerous countries. Then we discussed the problem of Jesus being represented or present as he is during Catholic mass. It was suggested that perhaps Jesus's image as Levinas's 'face' should be considered instead as a narrative as suggested by Ajit Man in her "Internarrative Identity", in which she builds on Paul Ricoeur's "Narrative Identity". In phenomenological terms she proposes that we have to deal with competing truths within our lives and so we cannot describe life events from only one perspective, for instance in the context of the performance the defacement of the image will be read as a different narrative depending on religious affiliation or geographical location etc.
One of the narratives in Castellucci's performances that is polysemic is the scene with boys throwing stones/grenades at the image of Jesus. Within our group we labeled it as a defacement of youth or a metaphor of a state of mind of the son. We found the act of defacement in the last part of the performance, where the image of Jesus seems consciously destroyed by mysterious figures behind the screen, as difficult to perceive as a vehicle of singular meaning. In phenomenological terms the process of recognition requires reciprocity and mutuality which might be an explanation for our reception of that scene.
Without a doubt, the discussion was not an exhaustive one. Besides the scandalous dimension of the performance we found that in fact it is the multiple layers within the transition from the sacred that matter and should be explored. We do believe that there is much more left to be discovered while analyzing Castellucci's performance since it touches the issues of the sacred and the profane within our contemporary society.
Grotowski, Richards, Ang: Holy Transmission
"Art as Vehicle", Grotowski
"Bali and Grotowski", I Wayan Lendra
"Art as vehicle is like a very primitive elevator; it's some kind of basket pulled by a cord, with which the doer lifts himself toward a more subtle energy, to descend with this to the instinctual body." Grotowski: 1993, 124
After watching the movements of Pizzica and of Candomble, we tried the movements out in our own bodies because the critics say that Grotowski steals movements, but we know that he has isolated performative expressions of several traditional cultures, dances and songs in order to discover the inner quality of these elements. As one commentator stated, 'objective drama is Grotowski's term for those elements of the ancient rituals of various world cultures which a have a precise and therefore objective impact on participants quite apart from solely theological or symbolic significance.' Having isolated a movement that stayed in our memories we attempted to recreate it on paper and over the two days experimented with several of Grotowksi's well-known Motions, noting the effects and the impulses, adding colours to our drawings as they arose, in order to awake our snake,
The rest is silence,
Installing the Sacred – A Performance-Installation
The seminar focused on the historical models in writings and performances of the historical Neo-Avantgarde directors such as Jerzey Grotowski, Peter Brook, Richard Schechner.
The aim of our workshop was to explore the concept of the Sacred and how can it be artistically transformed into an installation by finding connections between texts, body movements and usages of different media. Under the guidance of the performance artist Regina Fichtner, we tried to become aware of our personal understanding of religion. During our warming up sessions, we trained our coordination between body and voice. Afterwards, we gained further insights by watching installations of various artists (e.g. Zecora Ura, Marina Abramović, Damien Hirst and Regina Fichtner). Our following exercises investigated how to transform written texts and personal objects of affection into a performance.
On the next day, we gathered our practically gained insights. By using devising methods, we developed our concept for the installation, which was presented to the other participants of the summer school at the end. Our installation intended to create a strong atmosphere by contrasting multiplied sounds and blinding light. We invited the visitors for a guided pilgrimage through different stations that showed our artistic reflections on the sacred and the profaning usage of religious symbols and rituals
„Marat/Sade„ (watching video)
by Peter Weiss directed by Peter Brook
Brook’s „Holy theatre„ in Theory and Practice
Is „empty space„ possible?
Elements of Artaud and Brecht influences, present in the performance
„The Constant Prince„ (watching video)
by Calderón de la Barca directed by Grotowski
Comparison between Brook’s „Marat/Sade„ and Grotowski’s „The Constant Prince„
Brook’s „Marat/Sade„ Grotowski’s „The Constant Prince„
Corday’s hair the wiping
the bath the altar
dancing music deep voices
sacrificial figure sacrificial figure
sacralised body bare body
Contextualizing the terms:
Discussing Victor Turner and Richard Schechner
The Efficacy- Entertainment relation
„Dionysus in '69„ directed by Richard Schechner (watching video)
filmed by Brian De Palma
Discussion in context of the
avantgarde, ritual, freedom, explicit body in performance
„Bible project„ directed by Rina Yerushalmi (watching video)
Discussion in context of the Holiness
We started our workshop with a short introduction and outline of the workshop itself. Then we proceeded to presenting and discussing critical approaches to Grotowski and Stanislavski acting methods and systems. We raised the issue of cognitive mechanisms in the context of both acting and spectating. Every section of the workshop started with a series of warm-up exercises. During the first part of the session we were introduced to a starting point with which we began all the future exercises. Some of them were meant to develop the energy of the group, some were designed to raise the awareness of our bodies (in terms of energy circulation), whereas others were aimed at activating consciousness of the body and its responsiveness to reflections and projections, in order to use them as a tool for performing.
In addition, we explored universal basic human notions and modes of behavior in order to connect them with the general theme of the Summer School which is the Concept of Holiness. We approached the very issue from different perspectives based on our personal cultural and religious experience. We discussed the active role of the spectators and their contribution to the construction of the meaning in performance, and how should one act in order to engage the audience more deeply.
In order to take the main theme of the workshop to more personal level, we were asked to import and present our personal experience and concepts of holiness. We confronted various perspectives and discussed how we could introduce this material into acting. The result of the workshop was a collective performance which included all the input stated above, and that had been gradually developing during the course of the workshop.
THE HOLY THEATRE
WORKSHOP: Holy the Circle: Transcendence, Ritual, and the void in Ensemble Performance
"Dr. M.-L. von Franz has explained the circle (or sphere) as a symbol of the Self. It expresses the totality of the psyche in all its aspects, including the relationship between man and the whole of nature. Whether the symbol of the circle appears in primitive sun worship or modern religion, in myths or dreams, in the mandalas drawn by Tibetan monks, in the ground plans of cities, or in the spherical concepts of early astronomers, it always points to the single most vital aspect of life — its ultimate wholeness..." Aniela Jaffé, "Symbolism in the Visual Arts," fourth chapter from Man and His Symbols, eds. C.G. Jung and M.-L. von Franz (New York: Laurel/Dell, 1968), pp. 266-268
CITATIONS AS INSPIRATION:
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose at hand, and you will have use of the cart. Knead clay in order to make a vessel. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the vessel. Cut out doors and windows in order to make a room. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the room. Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of Nothing that this can be put to use." Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, trans. D.C. Lau (London: Penguin, 1963).
Mu or nothingness is a universal solvent. Not only does it dissolve any conceptualization trying to grasp it, but, even more radically, it dissolves itself. It is like a dim star in the evening sky: it disappears when one tries to focus on it, but as soon as one gives up that focus, one sees it peripherally, knowing it to have been there all along. T. P. Kasulis, Zen Action Zen Person (Honolulu: Hawaii UP, 1981). pp. 41-42
From the "„Saint Actor"
to the„ "Saint Revolutionary”:
Sacralizing the Secular
Gabriele C. Pfeiffer (Vienna)
The charlatans have always been a kind of tricksters who create their own "magical" worlds using the same ways and strategies throughout many centuries. The means have been changing, but the core stays invariable: if a quack can make the imagination of his audience work, he will always have plenty of clients.
Plan of Work:
1. Christ and Quacks in Medieval Passion Plays
- St. George and other mummers plays
Duality of good and evil in the main characters (Doctor, Father Christmas etc.). Ideas of diversity. Christianization of the vegetative rituals.
- Easter plays
The place of a farce in the sacred
performances. Different types of
the characters in such farces and
their dramatic nature.
2. Salvation in Early Modern Europe
- The role of the charlatans in the culture and the social life
- The theatrical techniques used by charlatans
3. Salvation for Enlightened Humans
- Horoscopes and other occult techniques as a
new means of salvation
- Theodor Adorno and his "Theses against
4. Salvation and Charlatanism Today
- Phenomenon of modern charlatans
in different countries
- Church and mass media (TV, Internet etc.)
- Gospels nowadays (Jackie McCaullough,
Pat Robertson and others)
"Romeo and Juliet"
- The false death of Juliet as a parody of Easter
- Friar Laurence as a charlatan
who tries to create a miracle by
St. George Play
Mike Shiwa, a modern charlatan