Creating performance in context

Workshop Dramaturgy in Performance, São Paulo, Aug 2013

Central ideas of the atelier obra viva educational programs based on the concepts of ‚Body Mapping‘ and ‚Space Scripts‘: 

1. To investigate the relationship between body and space from the perspective of the creation of actions and performances. These creations happens mainly trough the process of working with the potentialities of the inner- and outer space, i.e. by developing an action in an interior space and then „translating“ it into an outer space or the opposite way. 

2. This translation process from one space to another is seen as a method of how the body (or performer) can perceive, enliven and interpret a certain space by generating an unique and  distinct language. It’s not about the idea of „mirroring“ a space, but about the possibility of uncovering and showing what isn’t present at the first glance. Therefore the body is trained as a „magnifying lens“ that amplifies and reveals the atmospheres and features of a certain space, i.e. acting as a performer means to elaborate new and emerging gestures and movements by creating an understanding of performance in context. 

3. To explore the public space as a place to collect all sorts of material, especially images, stories and impressions and as well, as a place to confront yourself with a given reality and thereby broadening the artists scope of perception. Thus the therm „reality“ is understood as a way to play and shift the boarders between the fictional and the documentary, i.e. to report about something that happened or might have happened. Another central aspect of exploring the public space is the idea of „occupying“ and „appropriating“ a specific site trough the body to awaken a political awareness. 

4. To use the narration as an artistic tool to produce different forms and structures of how the body can tell a story. In this practice the body is seen as an agent that establishes relations or frictions between the space and the audience by using communication. This communication process deals with the idea of „translating spaces“ - finding one’s own and collective ways of mapping, organizing and designing a specific site and at the same time, of creating contexts and contents for it.

Methodology of the workshops based on a 'collaborative process' and on three 'working fields': 

1. STUDIO WORK: An intensive and daily body training, i.e. a series of physical exercises that combines teaching principles from Eastern and as well Western body techniques. This teaching helps to create an awareness of the body and its sensitivities. Besides it opens and adapts the body for all sort of movements, gestures and actions. This process is especially assisted by improvisation as a form of putting the body into the state of „being present“. Further the means of improvisation is used as a dramaturgical tool to find and illustrate common as well as particular issues. In that sense, the experiences made by the „individual body“ and the „collective body“ are constantly negotiated.

2. PUBLIC SPACE: At certain days of the workshop, the participants explore and intervene at some specific places in the public space, preferably at the ones where public life and circulation of people is vivid and/or at those that are less known or avoided. One of the main goals of these interventions is to observe the characteristics and dynamics of such a place and to find actions that change or accentuate what is happening. It is about putting the body into a situation where it can merge or almost disappear: By creating actions that respects the borders of the performer and the passersby. In such context the public space is seen as a stopover and interstage (or stage) where the body encounters moments of interaction, participation, friction and also irritation. In the words of the scholar Paula Marie Hildebrandt: „The intervention not just requires the willingness, but also the ability to engage in an unusual and unexpected situation and to recognize it as an irritating and at the same time meaningful event.“  

3. DRAMATURGY: The development and production of the performances are assisted by reading and discussing some of the texts (mainly from the fields of performance and space theory). The main focus lies on creating different types of dramaturgy: narration, map, script or score that exhibits, merge and especially, translates between the experiences and discoveries made during the studio work (inside) and the interventions in public space (outside).

How can we translate the experiences made in public space into a performative language or singular action? What are the insights or results of such a kind of research and cultural production? And to which extend is this kind of practice 'site specific' or 'site related'? Those are central questions to atelier obra viva.