Documentation Team / Eastern Meeting Place: conversations 2
Eastern Meeting-place
Documentation Team Conversations
(Not yet corrected and edited.)

Participants: Antonio Attisani, Mario Biagini, Jelena Kovacevic, Grzegorz Ziolkowski, Mirjana (Mira) Vukovic + members of Workcenter as listeners (Marie, Pei Hwee, Elisa, Cecile, Francesc).


Dur 1,21h.

Grzegorz: the subject is childhood related to the work. For Kantor, Shultz, Grotowski, the main obsession, the driving force for the creative power is the idea of connecting with infancy. We need to do something, to not go down. Zeami: with work, the flower of youth turns to the flower of craft.

Antonio: which writing of Grotowski? Where he speak about becoming old.

Mario: delay for the actor, fight against the process of aging of the body. But how to get the flower of craft if there is no flower of youth.

Grzegorz: I saw Motions when the leader works technically, as a sculpture, looking for a form that was lost, or maybe was never found.

Yelena: Was it lost or never found? Often you speak about: to do as if you are a child.

Mario: where we said this?

Yelena: in physical action

Mario: what do you mean? Physical training?

Yelena: In physical training and in many discussions there is the comparison with the child. We should search for the characteristics that have the child because we lost them or because we never found them. In Polish theatre, a symbolic element is the child, in psychology it said: the child is father of a man. Which quality, which advantage that give to have a child as an image in front of us? also, the animal in the jungle. There is unconsciousness in both of them. For child and animal the civilization comes after.

Mira: There is a connection: child, animal, organic movements? What is organic?

Mario: We use this words many times these days, it can become a label that we use.

Yelena: It covers too many things.

Mario: organic and normal. Stanislavski: organic like normal, following the laws of the natural behavior in realistic circumstances.

Antonio: every day life.

Yelena: Which means that we lost something.

Mario: I’m speaking about Stanislavski. For Grotowski and Thomas, organicity is a stream of living impulses and reactions, which doesn’t appeared in daily life, but in picks moment in life, very rarely, where there is no delay between input and reaction.

Grzegorz: The process of growing up, the civilization is connected with irony. I can’t see irony in the work because of the game, of play as a child which are socialize but not yet. The children are direct, immediate in there reactions, we tell them “behave”.

Mario: they laugh.

Grzegorz: yes, they don’t grin, they laugh.

Yelena: the new children are different. They mature faster.

Grzegorz: I don’t see it in the work.

Mario: No irony in working situation? It is difficult to dissociate irony from social behaving. The irony try to take out the risk that is the risk to be in a situation that is not following the normal, accepted social rules. So, you are without the usual weapons and in steed of taking it as an opportunity, it is natural to be scared, because you will be seen, we don’t like to be seen. If a person cross this barrier and accept to be seen, an organic deep flow can appear. Often, there are blocs because of fear of being seen, known, met, touched.
The irony appears in One breath left and Dies Irae, in the ironical, even rather sarcastic aspect of the montage.

Yelena: A quality in child is near to the absence of irony. The articulation of the child, even if it is not developed in all details, is very precisely directed, which make sharp wishes. I want this and I go directly take it. Everything is taken for real. There is no shade in the meaning, no false or right, no partly good or bad behavior.

Antonio: symbolic: the idea of childhood is essential in the gnostic gospel, in Actions. The child is as symbol of innocence, the innocence purpose of the work, the conquest of the innocence. The answer given in Actions: the work for innocence, for conquering the childhood, is not a representation, an imitation of the childhood. It is a deep work of deconstruction on themselves and reconstruction. You must die in order to born again. The work is not done by imitation but is done by going deeply in the roots of the problem, the organic beyond the mind considered as the centre of control of the human life. That is a personal dimension.
In The Twin, I saw another aspect of the work, which is also an aspect of childhood, a sort of primitive tribal way of being together between man and woman pre-civilized; without caricature. It is the collective dimension, which have a deep political sense.
The childhood of humanity is in the necessity to make some steps in the barbaric. It is to analyse the civilization (considering that modernity start 6 century before Christ). In that time of progress we were losing something and we were building super structures.
In collective, political, poetical sense, it is needed to find way of behaving, living in the communitarian sense, called the barbaric, the childhood that precede the history of our civilization. It is a great try, difficult to do and to show to someone else, it is near to ridiculous, not voluntarily grotesque, to play to be savage, it is near to not credible.
The Workcenter is related with gnostic, with Thomas gospel. It is the occasion to face fundamental texts of our culture, difficult to understand but fascinating. The concept of the work on oneself is not a spoken, ideological religion, but the trace of a work completely overwell by the civilization and the civilized religion.
Another aspect about what is childhood. We must face another problem, we can’t related to the symbolical, mythical past, we must relate it with the last changes, the childhood today is another thing than 50 years ago. So, separate the symbolical, and deep internal work which use this symbol and language and the vocabulary that we use in the community to indicate this phenomenal.
It is also related to theatre, Pina Baush, Brook said to the actors to look at child, at animal. It is a useful observation, a way of working. Even if today the children is a product of mutation, 3 hours TV by day, different nervous system than the older people than the people we had in Greece 2500 years ago. The mutation is bigger.

Grzegorz: the issue of innocence. It is hoping that the man is in his essence good. The child born, but something goes wrong, civilization, culture, socialization, in the behaviors of the child we can see the parent’s behavior.

Antonio: This is an acceptable simplification but the childhood is the symbol of a potential that is reduced by the civilization. You are specialized in order to serve the context in which you live.

Grzegorz: reduce or stop, that means that there is deterioration in time, no impulse for the progress.

Antonio: It is a political problem. The people fight against modernity, imperialism, how? Going back to trials, to tribal culture, reacting against that reduction. If we don’t find inside (that’s why it is political), among us the way of escaping this reduction, this deadly life, the only reaction will be death, irrationality. The only way to escape is to work on it.

Mario: What should be clear. If we say: play with me as if you are children. It is not because the children are good, it is one of the thousand ways to fight in order to arrive to the person and make her discover something. The question is not to lose the consciousness. It is not propose because the animal, the children are unconscious, I doubt that child is unconscious. We are not looking to be unconscious. It is the opposite.

Mira: different model of knowledge.

Mario: When a person really behaves like a child, when deeper streams appear, the person should heighten his watchfulness. Grotowski said that when the song starts to work, you should stand, be a man. When it get near to the origin, you should stand with all of yourself.
In ancient texts, in gospel, not just in gnostic texts, you should become like the children, doesn’t mean that you should go back to childhood, regress. You are the man, the man should become a child, not go back but go forward, not toward similarity, but toward something else to discover. How to not just putrefy. Maybe you can call it innocence. But innocence is not something good. It does not have good or bad. It is innocence because there is no good or bad.

Antonio: before duality and sexuality.

Mario: In the gospel, we should become like the child that is sucking the milk, without difference between outside and inside. But also you should be simple like a dove and in the same time clever like a serpent. The mind should not be dull, asleep. It should be the mind of a serpent, cutting.
Child is father of man. That will be beautiful, but in my experience, I was a child, but something else became a man. Something was interrupted. Hopefully the child is the father of a man. That would be a natural process. The child will not be lock in a room and left there till death, but the child is growing up.
When the work become alive, I have the impression to have the gift to have a second childhood.
To be unconscious is not a quality.

Yelena: It was related to civilization.

Mario: Yes. About not to go back at a tribal, savage, pre-civilized way because it is cliché, grotesque. The primitive society had a level of complexity of relations very high and delicate; that’s why they disappear with the crash of the other civilizations. The childhood of humanity is as complex as the childhood of the human being. We don’t look toward something tribal, but we look for (it is related to the question of having different relation with the witnesses) ... when a child, a teenager, dance in front of his village, the people looking are the spectators, the witnesses. They are his family, his community, and the uncle sees the child do what he did. It is not a spectator, what is that relation, it is not because of the boons of blood, but he did it before. We look for where is my uncle, my brother, what could be this tribe, this community. We don’t try to invent a community feeling, it would be to go toward stupidity that is toward fanaticism. But it is a true question in relation with someone who watches you. Where is it possible to find this way of watching and of being watched? I’m not watched by spectators, anthropologistd, theatre critidc, it is someone who did what I did.

Grzegorz: nobody here did what you did.

Mario: yes, and nobody is my brother by blood.
People who saw the work asked to be closer to it and we had the same necessity. We start The Twin in Arcidosso. It starts people looking to stay close. I don’t know where we will get, where that will bring us in this point of view: who are my people?
In the work I feel, not I believe or I think, I feel that one person is somehow my brother. This brotherhood revels itself when the solidarity towards going up appeares, when we are going together, telling to each other: come on, keep up, wake up, and that I accept it because it helps toward this unknown goal.
Is it symbolic, the figure of the child in the scripture or even the word brother? I don’t know. I’m not sure. When I ask Grotowski about this text. He said to read it literally. The sense of this text is literal.

Yelena: which texts?

Mario: this scriptures, even the gospel, you should become like a child, take it literally.

Antonio: literally mean stay to the words, and the words are words, are symbols, they indicate.

Mario: Yes, but he was trying to block my way of making interpretation. He was saying to not make up interpretation. For example that be a child is to behave like a child.

Antonio: to avoid the imitation, the stupid.

Mario: Yes, I ask myself in this sense. It is not connected to morality: to arrive where the human being is good in his essence, in his nature. The child can be the cruelest creature in the world.

Antonio: it struck me in The Twin. It is related to the fact to find brotherhood or relatives. I could not intend the performance of Thomas, if not as an offer which underpass man own strength and limit. If this offer is accepted by you it makes you a relative. If you don’t accept it, you are even not a spectator. You can even be disturbed because it is too much. If you accept to become a relative, a community, a group, a tribe, a new kind, we are searching.

Grzegorz: Offer, I agree, it create a point of reference for the work of Thomas but also for the work itself. Even if you distance yourself from the particularity of the work, you meet people who really work, which mean that it gives you the impulse when you work yourself.

Mario: Offer is a point very important. Some relations exist in potentiality between Thomas and the younger people like the group. Thomas do, remember something he was doing younger, they try to imitate him. In the work, the gift by himself is nothing if it is not accepted. If somebody does not receive it, it is a waste. We have something and we are looking to don’t waste it. Something is wasted through mechanical continuation of practice, dissolution, resting on something acquired, staying on the known territory, not risking.

Antonio: It is visible in Downstairs Action film: we see a young Mario, which is disciple of second degree, and his situation is to learn and accept the offer; how to get in. I t is the attitude: I want to be here, to become a member, how should I do. The relationship with Thomas is as if Thomas was an old teacher, a copocomico and you want to be one of his group.

Yelena: In Vienna, some expert spoke about trance, maybe we are near to find new very special words to define it.

Mario: What you want to define? Because when people say trance it include a big variety of phenomenon. I never was in trance. I have seen actor trying to feet into trance. What we see is a human being applying artificial ways of behavior.

Antonio: who sing, who speak, if it is not the ego, the actor reciting, it is something else.

Mario: Who is singing? For some specific type of people, it is a toll for working, a channel of research into himself, a technique related to the questioning: who is singing, you are singing and you ask yourself, you don’t answer, you look for the answer, you open the question, then you say: me, OK but me who, and you go back to the question, who is singing. This can free up some space inside. It is through the mind. The more the mind is sharp the more this toll can work. It is an ancient technique. It is not invented by Grotowski with us.

Antonio: It is the mind because we say “mind”, but the ancient said that it is an art as an alternative to a certain use of mind.

Yelena: Trance, I wanted to speak about the opposite, finding how something pass from one to another.

Antonio: a knowledge?

Yelena: no, this unity, the connection with the observer. How it return also.

Mario: I answer in what Antonio said, in Downstairs Action film, all the relation between Thomas and me was born on this: you see, you recognize, no to learn but in order that if there is a gift, it is not wasted. It can be a big discovery for both, you see and you are seen and you accept something. Like when say “God has no eyes”, so if there is a god he can see only through my eyes. The way I’m looking at the world and at human being, the way I’m seeing, is the way into which I force god to see.

Antonio: repeat.

Mario: If there is a god, he has no eyes, I can give him my eyes, but the quality of the seeing of god will depend of the quality of my seeing. So there is a big responsibility in seeing.

Yelena: Essai on Michelangelo working on the sculpture Pieta. The resistance of the material is very hard, he fights very much, and he said: oh god how can you exist when I struggle so much; there is no god when I struggle so hard and nothing appears. And he hears from the stones: but I’m inside, you are liberating me.

Antonio: the next subject will be the perception for us, for the spectator, of Actions, Dies Irae, ... Is it an esthetic or there is others way of perception.

Mario: how to see anew.