Documentation Team / Eastern Meeting Place: conversations 3
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 1,20h.

Antonio: We respect the topic or choose another one?

Mario: You can or not.

Antonio: “theatron” is the place where you go to see. That was the origin: watch something that does not appear in everyday life, like epiphany. Today, theatre seems a place to lessen to discourses and watch illustrations, to participate to a process of incorporation of notions, of ideas that come from the stage to you, these ideas are directing you.
But in Workcenter and in essential theatre for our times, it is different, in steed of discourses you have the chanting in the large sense, and in steed of illustrations you have images, visions, because the purpose is not the incorporation but the incarnation, the people making this theatre are incarnating something in front of, among, an audience. That has consequences on the perception of different kind.
What is it in relation to Action, The Twin and Dies Irae? The perception is much more esthetic and ideological than in normal theatre, because it is related to the quality of chant, of the visions, of the images, it is not a judgment but a pleasure implying a culture: you should recognize this quality. But this esthetic attitude and not ideological attitude had the purpose to go beyond, to overpass the esthetic, to go beyond this sort of intensification of life realized in the performers, and that happen in ourselves, when it happen. This theatre need a specific education, you educated yourself to feel it, to understand it, to cheer it, to take it in yourself. Some of us recognize that we appreciate your work more and more as we know you better, not personally, also, because there is a coherence which is a richness, but I’m talking about what we see, better and better. In jazz, there is a team, an atmosphere and a work that develop this thing inside and outside the performers. And what you cheer, when you hear Charlie Parker is a great deep personal experience.
An other door that I want to study more: that hypothesis that toward this theatre, the perception of the spectator is not less important, less intense of what the performers are feeling, living, experiencing themselves, but could be something, naturally different, but of great intensity, not secondary, which has to be worked in another way, the way of the spectators which is theoros which is creators of theory, which means elaborating different experiences. As spectator I’m a theorist, because I put together this experiences in my life, I make an other montage, it is a deep work on oneself which pass through an esthetical matter that could be worked because the more you understand the more you enjoy.

Yelena: I start the subject from another point of view, through experiences. Different things affect the perception. We should abstract certain things as if they are not there.

Mario: like the conventions

Yelena. Yes, we go to theatre and we abstract that the door should be in wood but is not, or we abstract things that happen but should not be there (like an actor who have a button open), even if alternative theatre, you abstract and follow the story they offer you.
In watching the first time Action in Vienna, everything put us in a certain way, we didn’t have to abstract anything, we had to include everything inside, we developed very special conscious about time and space where we are, we put limits to ourselves to work inside this limit, how we have to think, to behave. One direction is this, a consciousness about space and time, which belong to something and dedicate us to what is going to be there. The limit should be accepted, in that limited space and time you can put coordinates on what you will work: the ones that are already in the space and other ones that are moving. This coordinates are measurable and are already founded, it is before the start and after the end. But for the perception, it is interesting what is not still, in the middle, acting.

Mario: your perception of time?

Yelena: I can not measure it during Action, the time out of time, you don’t have idea of the practical things, of course in classical theatre you look at the watch if it is boring but not if there is suspense.

Mira: my eyes are muscles, they are dancing with the actors and space; it changes perception. The quality of my breathing is very important at that moment. We are also muscles.

Yelena: what I was speaking about is the moment when you are in something, what is going on, how this perception happens.

Mira: when you move and you sing I can fell in me some king of dancing, like if there is a physical basis of the perception of the observers.

Grzegorz: now I’m after Tai Chi class and I’m mentally and physically refreshed, I can focus more on the session. It refers to what Yelena call limits, coordinates. I will call them environments (we are staying out of the city, this affect also our perception, it is focus, concentrated, it affect our perception, it is part of our environment). My way of perceiving go from the larger composition that you are making and changing according to what is happening in the workshop, but also from another kind of looking into the details. In one moment of the singing work, Thomas was not watching what is happening in the space but he was lessening, concentrating on the singing, turning off one canal. Normally the team works with all the canals open totally (watching, lessening, sensing the proximity between the people working, it is complex, so ... the composition, the environment. But I had also the process, that go close to what Antonio say: we appreciate more when we know more, ... because there is a process.
When I sang in a session, the song reverberated in me, I was empty, not that I trough away my preoccupation, my prejudices, but I came to the work with readiness, with not much expectation to the work, I try to perceived what is happening, what comes. But this time was different, I become the resonating vessel, my perception was sharper, I recognize thing thanks to the process, to the work. I perceived that work on the song is like tai chi, comparison deparaison, is like. I could feel, sense, a hand of iron in a silk gloves, something very strong cover by something soft that encourage you to come, to touch. There is something very strong in the songs but what is the most visible is very gentile, alive, giving you the welcome. What is this strong thing, a battery of energy, if yes, there is something compressed into specific form which wait to make a life, it is tradition. The form should really be a form, not a soup, but in the same time, when you do the form very well, I can see the individuality, the form is as a springboard for the individuality.
When I watch Twin, an idea: escape from the empire of science, the mind try to catch the meaning of certain image, Thomas and Souphiène make like a mirror, I try to catch the meaning, to put the image into a web of associations, OK this might be this, but then the Action was already gone and I couldn’t not follow with the meaning. I trust the work that I see because of its quality, so I trust that you do it consciously, maybe not in purpose, to not take care of only the meaning, but also to another kind of mind?

Mario: when you say today something happen in your way of perceiving, can you trace because of what? You say because of immersion. But was it related also to something that you did, you did something before, can you look for? Or is it something that can only happen.

Grzegorz: I should think. Your scenic presence of Thomas and you is so strong that I watch how you work, and one element of this opening to this situation, I try to experiment, get out of this habit to look at Thomas or Mario: how they work with the space, with the performers, which comment they give and how the comments a correlated with what happen, are they right or not; and I experiment with this trying to catch the all picture.

Mario: do you know if your body was in a different way?

Antonio: you mean attitude?

Mario: something change in your way of sitting?

Grzegorz: Yes, the imaginary center of gravity when done.

Mario: the sensation of the center of Gravity

Grzegorz: this is very personal

Mario: yes but here we are on the perception subject because perception is personnel. The analysis in technique base on perception, like tantra, are interesting for people which the work is to watch and perceived. They analyse the perception and the feeling as a movement, the perception is something that move inside. This movement is prior to recognition, before the name and the feeling, before good or bad. It is the circle of the little mother, the alphabetical letters that make it bad or good, so it is the naming. It is related to the question of meaning, to theatre as a discourse. Here in the workshop, when someone try to don’t do a discourse, what arrive is theatre as divertissement, passing the time, anything, the art in the bourgeois tradition in the sense of civilized. It is something inside the status quo, accepting and letting the things as they are. It stays on this level. This arrival to divertissement is related to the lack of challenge.
About Grzegorz saying that his state his fluctuating because of what he does. When I start the meeting, I had low quality, no force, mind doll, related also to what we saw which was nothing. When you start to speak I start to wake up. The perception is affected by the perception of your colleagues, if you are awake in front of me, you give me a challenge, I’m push to wake up.
About Antonio, this esthetic approach. I understand in the ethymological sense, related to what the senses are apprehending. If I understand in the commune meaning: what is beautiful. Grotowski says: la beauté, c’est horrible. The question is not the beauty. The quality give the credibility, and because we say that we work on ourselves, it would be dangerous to say that we work on this without quality, it will be the worst because we will have the excuse of so-called spirituality.
There is an education to perceive, a constant fight to be able to perceive. Often when work in group, many times the perception of the partner become the image of him that I had build in myself and not what he is doing, but I should remind me that this person is something else, I should find the way to see every time, I should experiment.
This practice to watch is also related to the after work. How this echo feed away and when, for example, we work on songs toward the essential work, the verticality, the inner work and something inside change quality, your way of seeing change and the world change around you. After the mind can says all what wasn’t working. One aspect is looking to keel what happen. I must look for the critics, the corrections to go ahead in the quality of the work but I should also let this echo resonate because sometimes it can be stronger than what is happening in the session itself, let this echo be there and taste it.

Grzegorz: You talk about the gift of Thomas. How much should we be prepared to receive the gift. Is the quality of the gift so evident that it overpasses our barrier, or we should be prepared?

Mario: It is the question of the last day of your life. A record you can play it when you want. But if it is a person with a gift, will he be there tomorrow? It is one other way to remind me that I don’t know my partner, to see the little sign of mortality.

Grzegorz: Ok unrepeatable event, but the experience of lessening to the record can’t be repeated.

Mario: I’m speaking of a relational event. I’m not speaking about an unrepeatable event but a repeatable event between human being, what is the nature of this relation. It doesn’t mean that I accepted everything because the actor is mortal, no because then the quality goes done.

Antonio: did everybody react in the same time, realize what was happening there? Is it self-evident? Everybody should understand, accept this gift, or someone can’t appreciate it?

Grzegorz: How did you prepare the event, not in the sense of manipulation.

Mario: now you play a tric. No, because then it will be for everybody, because it is given by the environment. You said: the gift is self-evident or need to know how to look to recognize that it is a gift.

Grzegorz: I think it is both. Maybe it is possible that the gift is self evident to everyone

Antonio: even to the ones who do not accept it?

Grzegorz: yes, but most often it is both streams coming together. How much this depend on my state of perceptiveness, of this conscious or not fully conscious will to let it go, to let the prejudice, to be prepare and perceptive, or how much it is connected, it depend of the work itself. We come to this differentiation between I believe and I understand.

Mario: In the second segment of The Twin that you saw, there is a higher level of montage than in the first one, but there is not yet direction of attention. About looking for the meaning. In our work, the meaning, in the sense of the meaning that you can formulate, comes in the very last face of the montage. The meaning is not the content. The content you can perceive through another channel.

Grzegorz: Can you name it?

Mario: I try to speak about it yesterday: if the god has no eyes. The right channel is you. When I watch and make the effort to perceive, I eliminate what is not necessary, for example the contractions, I focus on what is happening in the sense that I don’ think about something else, I don’t fight with my thoughts, I remind myself to see actively, because sometime we can be looking but not seeing actively. When I watch with the purpose of working, I try to see what the person is doing and what the person try to do, and what could it be.
Is there an other mind which we address, I don’t know, but there is different toll in the mind, the sharp one which dived and differentiate, an other goes with the associations, and there is something else connected to what we can call heart, it is not related to feeling but it is not disconnected to psychological life. It is to see with the all, it is the horse, the man, not the face. I watch and it is as if I try to watch with the all body, I should see in an active way, I should find a way in the body which keep me awake, making as much as possible space. If I let the body go done with fatigue and gravity, my perception of the outer world is smaller. I have less space to perceive.

Grzegorz: you mean been close or open?

Mario: yes, but this has an emotional value in the normal theatre language: be close, be open.

Grzegorz: I mean physically

Mario: Yes, I expose more of my body, and something might change, it is not sure, but it helps in certain circumstances.

Grzegorz: the mind working in a faster momentum, in Tai chi the mind pull the energy, it is not the mind that pushes, the mind is behind the energy.

Mario: what do you mean by energy?

Grzegorz: you visualize the energy as something transparent, light, like a stream that is circulating. But to make it work you use the mind, but the mind is working faster than this.

Mario: you know the joke about Tai Chi. It is a very good demonstration.

Pei Hwee: you have a watermelon, you cut it in half, half give to him, half give to her.

Mario: it is the same, she visualize the watermelon. I suppose that what you call the energy is a beginner device.

Grzegorz: yes, it is a tool to help

Mario: in reality, Tai chi is an exercise for the circulation of energy. Not the energy as something that you visualize or imagine, that’s an exercise to do well tai chi. The purpose of Tai chi is related to the transformation of energy, the change of perception of ourselves, of the world, and in this it is a tool which is the same as the songs as we use.
What you said about the songs, that they are the result of many generation, compression and accumulation, they are form asking to be made alive, I agree, it is related to the places of origin of the songs. Grzegorz asked me: What is our relation with the origin of the songs, with the different culture, Vaudou, candomblé, santeria? For us, the point is that the songs are these tools, this forms, by themselves they are dead, but you can feed them asking you to make them arrive. It is your duty face to this human extraordinary creation.

Grzegorz: It is a working tool the visualization. And when you asked me to think about what really happen to my body when it start to reverberate, I’m looking for tools to go back to the state, to find this echo ones more. So, with this tool it is the same level.

Mario: Yes, but the visualization technique in the field of which we are speaking, for example the perception of what is happening with the song, specially if the mind is quick, the visualization can be a dangerous tool, because it is a direct road toward the engineering, the manipulation of the inner perception.
When one person work on a song and with this song, discover that there are areas in the body which can react to the song as if the songs is speaking through them, this specific points in and almost around the body, sometimes in the perception they are like wirldpool, many times the subjective experience is stronger farer from the body, because the vortex is larger, this in the experience can be very clear and evident. The next time, the danger is to play with these special places in and around the body. If I think constantly about this, even I can start to fell this points getting hot, but this is manipulation. So the power of visualization is strong but it should be apply with the help of a very competent person. Like in Tibetan technique, where the visualization is so complex, that you are so busy in keeping up this all universe created by the mind that the danger of engineering is much less. With the simple visualization the danger grows higher.

Grzegorz: yes, especially when the mind is quick, the manipulation comes to the field. So there is the question of teacher, because when you practice the complex form there is the danger of self-correcting, self-observation, manipulation of the experience itself. So the outside eye of a teacher, who is the teacher then, it is someone who know how to look and where to look, and also the quality of the person is important, in the sense that you can trust this person, you know that this person, even if you don’t know it consciously, knows where to look and how. Also in the human level, this person is really there to help you, has this ability to direct you towards you, it is something that helps this moment of practicing the form and make the flow.

Antonio: we should speak about beauty.