22.7.2020, 18:48:11   |  Photo: Zuzana Žabková  |   Category: Dramaturgy, Space & context, Interdisciplinarity, Process of making, Art & Society, Other

The starting point is the safe space

Key words:

The artists Aneta Fodorová, Martina Dobiášová, Michal Kindernay, Žofie Blechová and Vojtěch Bárta came to the Chateau in Žďár nad Sázavou with the multimedia project nov, which is being created in cooperation with the platform Third space and Chemické divadlo. After the film experiment, nov expands into a performative installation. During the residency, the artists therefore focused on finding tools that will allow them to translate the content of the project into a completely different, performative language. How is the position of the viewer changing today? Why is it crucial to create a safe space? And is it even necessary to define your genre?

Interview with Third Space (TS) and Chemické Divadlo (CHD, Chemical Theatre) just after the showing of their work in process in the Chateau in Žďár and Sázavou.


Zuzana Žabková: How do you feel right now? 
Everyone: (long silence – laughter)
ZZ: I can put it in parentheses :)
Aneta Fodorová: I think we are on a journey, in front of a journey.
ZZ: That’s maybe a good question. So you are on the road, on the way. Where exactly do you stand within the process of creation of your project? 
Vojtěch Bárta: In the curve.
AF: There are many curves, there are many crossroads and every direction we choose opens twenty new deviations and during this residency, we have discovered another possible direction which means we have to take new decisions. And I suppose that when we will have the premiere in September the process will keep going, there will be a new crossroad and after every other performance, there will be a crossroad, because we want to allow the public to enter the creative process and influence the performance itself.   
ZZ: So you let the process flow, every performance influences the next one.
AF: In the performances of Chemical Theatre the form has not been so open until now. But maybe Vojta can say more about it. 
VB: Theatre is a living form so every performance is a little bit different. 
AF: To us, it is important to talk to the audience after the performance, get their feedback, and then we decide what we can use in the future.  
Eva Dryjová: What is this crossroad about? 
Martina Dobiášová: This crossroad, apart from other things, is about creating an interdisciplinary work – between theatre, dance, and the film. The feedback we received today made us think that maybe we should choose one direction, but for us, this has always been the question within the process. 
ZZ: Today I saw only the excerpt of your work, a stage work with the actor and the text, where the actress disappears from the perspective of other rooms…. But I would like to ask what was the topic or starting point in this project you have been working on? 
MD: It somehow has to do with the crossroads. Our dramaturgical starting point was anchored around a Siberian myth that tells the story of the transformation of a human being into a shaman. In this story this transformation is perceived is as some kind of predestination and it is an irreversible and actually quite brutal process. It is about physical death and rebirth. But our approach is not ethnographic, we ask ourselves what can the story tell us now, the story speaks to everybody and is about everybody, we are all responsible for our lives. We are now in a phase when we work on it on several levels - the social level – what is happening in the world now, on the private level - how it influences us as individuals, and that is our private commentary. And to speak about the form, what is interesting is that we created this multileveled crossroads intentionally when we invited multidisciplinary artists into the process where none of us is in the position in which we’re used to be. Our actresses and not primarily actresses, Michal is a visual artist for example, I am a performer and drama teacher …and this gives us the opportunity to approach theatre in a different manner. At the same time, we look at it through different disciplines and different prisms which makes the work more fragmentary and the challenge is to find a way to let these fragments coexist in the process. So at this moment, we are not able to even name the shape or a form of what is emerging. If it a is participatory performance or installation or something completely different. 

VB: We have turned and looked at it twenty times, but we are still not able to label or define the specific form and the ratio of all of them involved, and that also is always dramatically changing. 
ED: Is it important to name it? 
AF: What is important for us is that we know what kind of tools we use, but also because of fundings we should state what kind of work we produce or which genre, or well this is what they want from us. 
ZZ: But on the other side, this is the freedom of the artist to say this it is a staged installation and the artist is here to create new forms, so we shouldn’t be restricted by the funding, we are here to change and reflect what already exists in the structure.
ED: To name something for fundings is ok, but that shouldn‘t determine the reality of what you do.
AF: What Vojta says about communication with the audience is also very important regarding the definition of what we do. 
VB: It is important to tell the audience how we want to work, crossing different disciplines, that was actually one of the original impulses for founding Chemical Theatre, to create a reflective theatre which chooses experimental ways and searches for expressing certain chemistry of the world and the chemistry of a human soul which is in dialogue with the controlled world.
MD: Vojta says Chemical Theatre produces experimental work but I think that this project goes beyond that frame. 
ZZ: When you talk about the multiplicity of different disciplines and forms, I would like to know what kind of forms you use in this project and why you chose them? Or how is it related to the myth you spoke about, why do you use these mediums? 
Michal Kindernay: I’m originally a visual and sound artist and I’m surprised by how the theatre is still a theatre… I think it is attached to the tradition and after all the experiences, schools, and funding structures it is hard to go beyond. It's maybe also because of the state‘s division into disciplines, categories in applications for funding. 
ZZ: Even though the history of art has already gone beyond it.
MK: It's now becoming more fluid and I think there are interesting experimental formats in the current theatre productions, but I think we could go even further. 
In our case, we started with the video because of the pandemic and that brought us here, but we will also see where this goes if we start to work with the film on stage. 
ZZ: I don’t know if you know the quote from the book O chybění (About Lacking) by Jan Mančuška and Vít Havránek which starts with the situation where you enter the room and this room is full of people and there is one actor but you don’t know who it is. 
AF: I think that there is one more form in the game and that is LARP and role-playing games, which are in some way similar to this. I’m working on one project where we use similar tools, where people don’t perceive themselves as spectators because they are from very the beginning in charge of making decisions. And it is on to decide where the game is going. It makes it different from the immersive theatre where the structures are predetermined. And this is something that we try to do in third//space projects. We want to invite the public to the process of creation in the very beginning.
ZZ: Maybe it is also about duration, we could talk for example about Reality shows, video games, Role-playing games, series….. where we observe, we are in a different temporality of a classical performance, so from this, we see that you create a certain community of people involved in the process from the beginning. 
ED: How you work with the audience that is not experienced in these forms you, what kind of tools you use to get closer to them, to deepen the spectator’s sensibility? 
MD: The starting point is the safe space. Because in the theatre you have conflicts and that creates certain dynamics. I think that the most important is to realize that we don’t have to know now. And to leave it where it is.  
AF:  Also some tools that lead to a different approach and position of the spectator take more than twenty-thirty minutes or one hour. And we are still searching for new and new tools. What are the ways of bringing the audience into another state which might be comparable to be on drugs where you relax much quicker, but we didn’t find this shortcut yet and maybe it is not existing…. 
ZZ: Maybe you have to do eight-hour performances
AF: Hehe, Maybe
ZZ: Because this was my experience when I was part of this long performance, where I was able to leave the space, stay there, go out, and this whole experience took me in by its extended temporality. And also what you were talking about that you need a certain time with your audience for dialogue and extended field where you spend time together. It is why if you are speaking about this that you need more time, maybe you need to make eight-hour performance
MK: And this was for example in the action art and it is again coming back, performance, happenings, all this evolved but it is interesting that it was not connected together.  
VB: But if you look to the west and you follow post drama theatre you see that influence by these crossings already in the ’60s. 
MK: Contemporary performance also states the question of how to bring the audience into the process. 
ZZ: It’s also about the context. Speaking of, for example, the transition from the black box to the white cube and how it allowed durational performances… 
MK: Maybe galleries and theatres shouldn’t exist anymore :)
ED: What role has dramaturgy played in this process?
MD: There is a certain structure of how it works, but we keep open space, we have certain intentions but then it is the spectator who can manipulate it. 
ZZ: So it is a river dramaturgy that is going in parallels and in different directions. It is also a provocation for the moment of crisis. Because also as a spectator if you are in the moment when you don’t know what is going on, it might be strange for you, but these are the moments you remember the most because that opens questions for you. 
MD: There is a lot of space for dramaturgy, but I personally wonder how much space is there for directing. I think the classical position towards directing should change because from my own position I know that I’m much more asking questions rather than telling the people what they should do because that is more important for me. I need to ask not to give tasks. 


Thank you

Author: Zuzana Žabková

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