Dublin / Project Art Centre + The Lab / 14-17 April 2013

We all met Friday afternoon to see eachother again or to get to know eachother for the first time. All the official PACE partners are present but we now we also must consider (what we started calling) the “PACE Friends”: Those who started following the international meetings, seduced by the impact of the project. And the number keeps on growing, from Australia, Germany, and Irland.

The working sessions happen in Saturday and Sunday. In the mornings we have the visit of special local guests - whose work can give us a particular insight on how to tackle the crisis with the performing arts – and it's time for more theoretical discussions. And in the afternoon we depart from the questions, brought by the morning discussions, and try to develop practical approaches (pedagogic and artistic) that might be able to set the topics in the frame of the work itself.

 

If the crisis is changing the system shouldn't we be celebrating it?

José Gimenez (Trainer, Ireland)

 

In the first morning we meet Veronyca Dyas who presents her very special artistic (turning to social) practice: At a moment in her life Veronyca could no longer pay her morgatge so she decided for a radical option who turned her life in a work of art. First she documented with photos everything she had, all the material objects. Then she gave everything away. After that she left her house – to pay the debt to the bank – and decided to become a “homeless” owning just what she could fit inside a small bag. In the meanwhile she also prepared a theatrical performance based in her own experience that she presented to a “regular audience”. But the other performance – becoming a homeless – is still in progress, everyday Veronyca tries to find a place to sleep and hangs around with her bag. Because even if Veronika had the money she would now refuse to have a house again, refusing to be an owner and making a daily defense of poverty as a new a good value (like S. Francesco, perhaps), in oposition to the values – greed, ambition, money – that took us to the financial and debt crisis.


I would like to make poverty a brand new value.

Veronyca Dyas (Guest, Irleand)

 

And when Veronyca shares her radical experience (challenging the boarders of the performing arts) its hard not to remember of the people, in Spain, who decided to comet suicide, by jumping out of their windows when they were about to loose their houses, actually organizing a performance for the police, fire department and press.

In the second morning our guest was Dylan Tighe, who came to tell us the way he changed his life, his job as a performance artist ans his health condition. For many years Dylan had mental heath problems which he always kept apart from his working as an artist, until the moment it became impossible. So, at a certain point, Dylan could no more handle both his worlds: One one hand, the hospitals, the mental health institutions and the constant prescription of drugs; On the other hand, the rehearsals, the need to be on time ant the texts to memorize. And Dylan said no more.

And his decision was to find a relation between his health and his work, finding a new way to approach both of them. Dylan the devides a theatrical performance inspired by his life as a mental patient, and for that he used not only his clinical record but also his diaries, performing himself on stage, with the collaboration of other musicians and actors. And besides the performance Dylan was also called many times to share his experience – which really enabled him to improve his health and his relation to work – with psichiatrist and mental patients.

 

Politicians became better actors than we. And their representation became real.

Dylan Tighe (guest, Ireland)

 

Although not as radical as Veronyca's life experience, Dylan also found a very close relation between his biography and his experience as an artist. So his personal experience, to get out of his personal crisis, can be a really important one. Because Dylan didn't choose to search for a solution inside the frame he already had (like changing drugs, changing doctors or changing employer). Dylan created a all new frame – for his work as an artist and for his condition as a mental patient – and found a entire new (and ahappy) balance within this new frame, “out of the old box”.

So, and when it comes to the economic crisis, no wonder Dylan belives he is not responsable for (the big estpart of) the national debt of his country, and that we should all try to (re)organize) ourselfes, creating alternatives to the system that brought us to where we are now.

In the first afternoon we try to find “yes or no questions” that can highlight the main topics of the morning discussion, such us:

 

Does it matter if our performances are art or not?

Is every life story worth telling on stage?

In our performances about crisis do we wish also to provoke a sensation of guilt in the audience?

When approaching the crisis theme in our work, are we more effective when we speak locally than when we articulate local with global?

Should the dissemination strategies be linked to the creation itself?

Is performance in the context of crisis a rehearsal for life?

Does theatre, in the context of crisis, have an impact on life?

Does theatre, in the context of crisis, provide answers?

Can we influence without imposing?

In a classical theatre situation is the audience passive?

Is it necessary to ask uncomfortable questions?

Is it necessary that the discomfort passes through you (the maker) first before you attempt to make it a question?

Is it important to entertain knowing that entertainment is: the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment?

 

Then we try to set this questions inside a game, a sort of a frame that could, regardless of the contents, highlight the notion of crisis itself. And all together we start to develop the rules:

“Everybody in the middle of the room. The facilitator asks a question. If your answer is yes, move to the left. If it's no move to the right. In doubt stay in the middle. Try to convince people to change sides. Change the rules whenever you want”.

And in the second afternoon we have a new set of questions:

Am i guilty?

Are we corrupted by public money?

Could our work survive without public money?

Can we create artistic work outside the system when the audience is the system?

Is the audience the system?

Am i satisfied with the way I participate in the economic system as an artist?

Can theatre cure?

Only when theatre steps outside of the funding system can it be relevant to the crisis?

Are all artworks reabsorbed by the system?

Is there a common value visible in performance in EU?

To make a socially, useful authentic artistic work is it really necessary a strong personal exposition?

Is representing the negative positive?

Can we laugh at the crisis?

Is mental health important?

Can a crises be permanent?

 

Everywhere people are organizing in different ways, finding alternatives to the frames that, a few years ago, seemed as the only ones avaiable.

Carlos Costa (trainer, Portugal)

 

But in this second afternoon we give much more attention to the rules of the game, trying to develop them, as we believe this performance frame to have a great potential as a way to perform crisis itself. And in the end we have a small kit of tools to develop:

 

All rules can change except this one.

Yes to one side and No to the other.

Closer to the facilitator for more intense participation and far way for less intense.

After defining the positions only 3 questions for each side.

The facilitator can be changed.

Two of the performers can role play

Indecision freezes you

Exhaust possibilities

Develop intellectual and emotional connection

Be entertaining.

Explore duration

Half the cast are not professional performers or experts

You can put other people in danger

You can change your mind

Try to change other people's minds

Deceiving is allowed

Whistle

 

In the end of this hard working days we all feel that this preciouse learning experience is starting to find a very interesting path, as the workshops can now be build on the previous experiences. Let's see what happens in Porto, next September!

 

It's been inspiring, full of ideas, fun, crazy, colorful, deep, contrasting, and many more things.

Ana Zirner (PACE friend, Germany)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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