Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Finding ways to communicate - questionning the role of theatre

by Miriam Horwitz and Anne - Mareike Hess

Reharsals for the production Bojim se da sada poznajemo (Ich befürchte, jetzt kennen wir uns) have started at the Gavella City Drama Theatre Zagreb in Croatia. The premiere will take place on January 16th. One day after the German version will be performed to the Croatian audience.

M: The piece is questioning language as, “The way” to communicate in the world. It is asking if we do understand each other, if we are able to share.
Do you have different ways of communicating to each other in the society we are living in?
Or did you find any examples you are developing?

AM: Yes, I think the piece questions the role of spoken language for our communication and the concept of language in itself. But it also questions the importance of memory and collective memory. Our interest in this context is to open up the notion of communication, to take it beyond the spoken word and to involve the whole body. We are searching for another way of speaking to each other. Through words and body we want to challenge our understanding of each other and our preconceptions as well as open up to multiple ways of interpretation.

M: The concept of communication through spoken language implies misunderstandings. This is an agreed fact, which nevertheless leads to problems. We want to create a space, in which the performers as well as the audience have the possibility to experience multiple meanings, in the pictures and the words and the way the body is moving. That means to not put one definition on a situation, or a dialogue, but several. It also means to put the audience in a position where they have to work, in this way they have to decide things for themselves - if they want one meaning. Through this opening up of definitions, we want to create a room in which the imagination and the understanding of the performer and the audience is constantly in movement.

Does that mean to push everybody towards their insecurities?
Into a state of being lost or at least shaken up?
What do you think is hidden in this moment of being shaked?
Why do we search states which are in between, whose meaning is not defined by the performer or the observer?

AM: This piece, at its roots, is questioning the fundament of our communication and therefore also us, as social beings. This approach is in a way so basic but that's exactly what makes it so difficult. We are constantly organizing and categorizing the information we perceive with our senses in order to make sense and in order to navigate through the world - and this also applies to watching a piece of theatre as an audience or performing it as an actor. In this moment where this basic understanding is challenged or even suspended, because maybe information becomes contradictory, an opening appears, a gap that we believe holds the possibility for a different approach to the known. It is a moment for possible expansion of the socially agreed. A moment where two well-known components can create something unexpected or even unknown. And this is exactly the reason why we in our work like to provoke these moments of insecurity or let's say ambiguity. The problem is of course that this new or unknown can not be predicted, because it is nearly impossible to construct, but it is through the (physical) experience of these gaps that possible new ways of thinking can be enabled.

I think it is important to know that with our work we are not suggesting or propagating just one vision for society, rather we are introducing a first step in order to raise questions. and trying to multiply the visions or even try different visions. Theatre is in our opinion the perfect media to do this, because it happens in the moment and decisions are taken live in front of and with the audience.

M: That means to open up the working process. The moment of taking a decision or not taking it. It means to put yourself as a performer in an insecurity, and show it on stage. To raise the question of how we will spend the time together in the theatre room, in the black box. In relation to the text it has to be an undecided open process, which is not ending. In that way to put the text in between you as a performer and the audience, to let them raise their own questions. So it is a constant working process on both sides.

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