Project The Bridge: Developing Theatre Arts
Project The Bridge: Developing Theatre Arts

Since May 1998, the Workcenter is developing a new branch in its research, a branch that is evolving and maturing next to the research on "art as vehicle", Project The Bridge: Developing Theatre Arts. Therein, a bridge is being sculpted in the material of performing arts, a bridge stretching from the world of the theatre to the investigations on "art as vehicle". What is appearing in Project The Bridge is neither theatre in the strict sense, nor “art as vehicle”. The first piece created inside Project The Bridge was One Breath Left, directed by Mario Biagini and Thomas Richards. Now, a new piece is emerging, Dies Iræ: My Preposterous Theatrum Interioris Show, directed by Mario Biagini and Thomas Richards.

In Project The Bridge, we are searching for efficacious ways of dialogue in two seemingly opposite directions. Unlike the opuses in the domain of "art as vehicle", in the pieces in Project The Bridge we have consciously created both an arrow of intention that stretches toward those present, watching, and the other essential vector of intention related to those doing, to their intention in doing. Herein, we are moving towards these two vectors of intention, which exist in, and are supported by, alive and precise structures of action. We are penetrating this territory of active exploration on the relation between "art as vehicle" and performative event.

In relation to Project The Bridge, one cannot think of theatre in the strict sense. It might be useful to approach this aspect of our work keeping in mind the totality of the Workcenter research. It’s like with the different layers of skin. There are many layers. There are inner layers – a layer which is deeper, intimate, and this is the work on "art as vehicle". It’s in contact with the blood, with circulation, with what is deeply nourishing you. But there is also a layer which touches the world, and which the world also touches, with which the world enters into contact. It keeps an affinity and a dialog, an exchange of substances, with the life of the innermost layers. With Project The Bridge we are hunting for a new link: the performative event which might act as a bridge, penetrating directly into the essential work. It is this further perspective of field which we are pursuing in our research with Project The Bridge.

ONE BREATH LEFT

A woman lies in her agony bed: only one more breath left. Who is there, close? And if it was me in my death agony? With only one breath left, with no strength – will I remember? In a flash, from memories and desires, images reappear, visions glitter: childhood dreams and fears, people I met, the search for knowledge, hunger for joy, my nightmares… Will it be just the leftovers of gone-by life, emerging again for a second, or an unexplored chance – too late, an instant of recognition, too lately glimpsed? What will I do with that last instant?

One breath left was publicly presented on many occasions from 1998 until December 2002, in Italy and abroad. There existed different versions – six to be exact – and each of them was stemming from the previous one, moving forward towards our intuited objective. We presented One breath left every time that a certain level had been reached, when the professional impeccability was solid and, at the same time, when the work itself started to indicate to us what the next step might be – the unexplored creative possibilities. We should not think of such long-term, concentrated development, however, as "work in progress", in the sense that this expression often takes on, or as some sort of étude. Each step of confrontation with exterior observers was artistically fully accomplished. But again, for us, "accomplished", meant that within it, we had already begun to see the new, unknown road to tread.

NEW STEPS

What appeared for us in Project The Bridge around the beginning of 2003, however, was a door towards another possibility, a further possibility. A certain stage had been reached, yes, but something unknown was starting to tempt us, and we had to go with this temptation. We entered into a transitional period in which we were looking to dive deeper towards our intended objective. It was no longer natural to continue work on One breath left, since our necessities were pushing us towards a new step in dramaturgic elaboration and a deepening of lines of actions relating to this new emerging dramaturgy. Dies Iræ began to appear, as our response to these necessities.

Dies Iræ - shown in anteprima in Istanbul in the summer of 2003 - had its world première in Fondazione Pontedera Teatro in February of 2004.

DIES IRÆ: MY PREPOSTEROUS THEATRUM INTERIORIS SHOW

a man bowed his head into the darkness. his eyelids open onto the stage of his inner world – and see! out of the black velvet void seemingly concrete figures come to red life, answering his bidding to action. strolling players in an absurd comedy, waking up into a reality with hazy borders; fleshy shadows crawling between his joys and sorrows, in the vaudeville of desires and fears. they beg an answer from the depths of the unconscious about human nature, hunting to accomplish the task destiny seems to demand of them. well, his adventure may also be a cruel inquiry into the dubious essence of theatre art. and surely, his intimate phantasms would make up a theatre company with a very peculiar conception of art.

“Life’s splendour forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you invite it by the right word, by its right name, it will come. This is the essence of theatre, which does not create, but invites.”

the actors of the whimsical drama that unfolds inside him perform their daily liturgy. pitilessly, today as yesterday, they recount the scrappy story of his aspirations and struggles. where does his soul hide, if anywhere? each day, only a random lottery to find it. can the one chosen by the raffle – today a woman – incarnate his innermost life, made of the evanescent substance of the soul? can she really transform herself into the vessel of a redeeming presence, while hanging between sky and earth, knowledge and ignorance? will she perish in this grotesque and desperate attempt, or finally fly?


The members of the Workcenter team performing in Dies Iræ: My Preposterous Theatrum Interioris Show are: Mario Biagini – the man; Gey Pin Ang – the soul; Pei Hwee Tan – the soul’s mocking bird; Johanna Porkola – the severe judgment; Elisa Poggelli – the impotent nostalgia; Jørn Riegels Wimpel – the stubborn enthusiasm; Francesc Torrent Gironella – the cheated innocence; Cécile Berthe – the lost desire; Souphiène Amiar – the unsatisfied doubt