Monday, February 17, 2014

"I am America" performance by the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Toronto.

The Open Program after I am America performance in Toronto (Photo by Gustavo Thomas © 2014)

Last night the Studio Theatre of the U of T was again packed, this time to see "I am America" by the guys from the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards.

It was a great night, full of energy and, as some of the people said during the short Q&A session, with many reminiscences of the Grotowskian tradition of doing things.

Once more singing was a very important part of the work but not the less the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, the vocal game and in some moments a very impressive fluidity of the movement of many of the actors.

If in "Electric Party Songs" we saw a young group singing, this time we saw and noticed a theatrical group of young artist doing very well what they wanted to do and that is remarkable, as spectator very appreciable and enjoyable.

Public was less shy in the applause and more enthusiastic in their comments after the performance.

Some of the guys of the Open Program are very young but it was impressive the way they grew on stage during their actions.

Being a critical work on America, the country, through the voice and questions of immigrants (if I understood correctly) I felt opened to the critic of the Americanism, and some of the ironies there were very enjoyable; America is a country and a being who they (or we?) dream with, fall in love, hate and think eternally about.

I kept some images in my memory, especially around the American flag used as a dress and wings, and some remarkable vocal and physical moments.

I couldn't avoid to recall the taste of "Akropolis" (one of the great works directed by Grotowski) during some editions of actions and in the tempo of the actors' work.

At the end, again during the short Q&A session, and old man mentioned about the difference between the joy he felt in this work and the suffering (probably he used other word) people felt in the first Grotowskian works, and Mario Biagini made him notice that the inner work of the main actor in The Constant Prince, Cieslak, was a line of associations related with a very pleasurable moment during the adolescent years of the actor (his first sexual encounter) but the public, worked by the edition of the actions by the director, saw other thing, a man being tortured. Joy then has been always present in this group, even without the physical presence of Grotowski, and this time openly exposed.

Finally I can say that Mario, actor himself, is a master of directing audiences when talks about his work with Grotowski and the group, using his own skills to reach the people who is listening to him, we all were almost static with his words about Grotowski giving to the people through his work, founding the truth (Mario’s truth) in his voice and body in every sentence, giving us what is in his experience as an artist and as human being.

Lovely moments, and now looking forward to see what will happen next in this residence of the Open program in Toronto, with their masterclasses, screening and performances to come.

(I didn't take any photographs of the performance, sorry. I wanted to concentrate myself in the work I was going to see. So, you have here only two of the group during the applause, just as a visual document of the event).

Mario Biagini speaking after the performance of I am America in Toronto (Photo by Gustavo Thomas © 2014)

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