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Summary of Rehearsals – May and June 2009

November 1, 2009

Theatre Collaboration – DIE BRÜCKE – IL PONTE – THE BRIDGE

Dates:

Preparatory meeting of the artistic directors: 14-15 January 2009 in Salzburg

Rehearsal phase 1: 22-24 May 2009 (3 days in Bologna)
Rehearsal phase 2: 29 May – 3 June 2009 (6 days in Salzburg)

Preparatory meeting of artistic directors Myrto Dimitriadou of Toihaus Theater and Valeria Frabetti of La Baracca in Salzburg:
Developing the topic: “The Bridge”, collecting the first materials and questions

Rehearsal phase 1: 22 – 24th May 2009 in Bologna

Toihaus: artistic director Myrto Dimitriadou, musician Herbert Pascher and his Violincello, dancer Cornelia Böhnisch
La Baracca: artistic director Valeria Frabetti, actress Carlotta Zinni, actor Fabio Galanti, actress Daniela Micioni
Discussions and materials, which then partly gave impulse for the improvisation on the stage:

the bridge 1

  • There exists in many cultures numerous myths and stories about bridges. Remarkable are those, where a man or his soul were walled in the bridge, like a sacrifice (there exists an explanation for that, that thereby the god of the river, who was crossed by the bridge, should be appeased)
  • Myrto knows an old Greek Saga about a stone bridge, the history of its construction:  the last stone, which was then carrying the whole bridge, every night fell down, and the whole bridge had to be erected again. Only when the master builder walled his wife into the bridge, did it stand and the bridge exists until now.
  • Valeria knew another Irish story in which the soul of a man was given to the devil in order to make him not destroy the bridge. (In German the name “devil’s bridge” often was given to bridges, which are in dangerous places, so that they seem to stand only with the help of the devil)
  • The bridge as a metaphor for a connection between men, a relationship. Every relationship needs also the ability to sacrifice. You are able to build bridges to other people, when you are able to sacrifice, not to live purely egoistically.
  • If a relationship exists between men, then  a bridgeexists, otherwise not.
  • Bridge as a metaphor or a changeover into another world, concerning time, space, the transcendence or another level of being.
  • Every man organically consists of many bridges, e.g. the synapses. Without these bridges he cannot live.
  • Another idea comes from the novel by F. Kafka: The Bridge. (in English there is a lot to find in the internet) – the bridge, which feels like a living being and finally disrupts.

Every day of rehearsal started with a warm-up, which was led by the dancer Cornelia Böhnisch.

Improvisations (with live-music/Violincello), the music supports, gives impulses, joins and combines the scenic play.

  • Go and Stop! Build a line, as a group, 3 – 4 people, or the whole group
  • Make together a group, use all parts of your body, find always new possibilities to build bridges.
  • Make in pairs a bridge, the third person plays, what is under the bridge, e.g. the river, the street, the valley

The bridge 2the bridge 4the brige 3

  • Dance-improvisation with the own body, be the bridge or the flowing water under it, and change freely, also with emotions.
  • Improvisation being influenced by Kafka`s Bridge: Everybody describes in his language his bridge and performs it, e.g.: “My bridge is blue.” “My Bridge is electric“ etc. There are a lot of misunderstandings, because of the similarities between Italian and German words with different meaning:
    – „I am a Bridge which WAS“ („Ich bin eine Brücke, die war“) the Italians understand “I am a bridge, who is a DIVA”
    – or a “bridge, who wanted to sing” – („Brücke, die  singen wollte“)  the Italians understand “a bridge with  … volta“, that means an electric bridge etc.
    In spite of the language-difficulties or even therefore the group finds a very fine nonverbal communication.
  • The hungry bridge, the eating bridge.
  • Improvisation: in the middle there is deep water, on the left the German speaking, on the right side the Italian speaking group, how can they find together?
  • Improvisation with “bridge“, “water“ AND sounds, they develop a very fine choreography. One group describes the other one.
    • Solo-improvisation: only by using words
    • Solo-improvisation only with gestures which express the words, like the sign language
    •  One is the Leader, the group follows and in the opposite
    • What do I feel, when I go under the bridge?
  • Voice-improvisations with Germana (singing teacher, exploring the human voice and the old music, teaches at a Spanish university, has developed a wonderful method for teaching singing even to non-professionals, which is based on the combination of movement and singing)
    Germana teaches the group a song for 2 voices, based on an old Czech folk song.

Summary of the first days of rehearsals
They had the aim to develop trust and open mind in the group, different levels of communication, get to know each other.
The cultural differences were not so much in the different nationalities or languages, but in the different theatrical cultures. The team of La Baracca is used to develop plays in a rather short time – within 3 weeks, the rehearsals are following conceptions, which are already mostly prepared in before. The Toihaus-team around Myrto Dimitriadou is used to rehearsal up to 2 months for a new play and the conceptions mostly are developed during the rehearsals, inspired by impulses from the rehearsal process.
Toihaus works also in the rehearsals a lot with live-music, La Baracca mostly not.
The working language was English, exceptionally in those improvisations, which were in the father’s languages of the persons. All improvisations were documented by film, in order to can study it as a material for further conception

Rehearsal Phase 2: 29 May – 3 June 2009 in Salzburg

New members in the Toihaus-team are Katharina Schrott (dancer) and the stage designer Irene Edenhofer.

Discussion: collection of further materials
Everybody tells about their own personal bridges, about their own associations and experiences around that.
Valeria has recognized in Bologna among the many immigrants not being able to talk Italian, that often their children are the bridges for the adults.
Herbert presents a picture book by F. K Waechter: Wir können noch viel zusammen machen (look English translation – the book  exists also in English, since 2006), which gives a strong impression to Valeria: it tells about a friendship between 3 very different animals – a pig, a bird and a fish. Also the elements of being easy (the element of flying) and of being heavy (being not able to move away from the ground) are inside, as principals of rhythm, which are then influencing the process of rehearsal.

Repetition of rehearsals and ongoing improvisations with music (Violincello)
Myrto and Valeria every day reflect on the programme of rehearsals and give each other time to explore also different ideas with the group. It is a very constructive cooperation without any competition. Sometimes they change, one phase of rehearsals Valeria is the director and Myrto is behind watching and during the other phase Myrto is the leader.

Myrto several times invites the ensemble just to follow their ideas, not being shy to experiment. There exists no classification of “wrong” and “right”, every idea has its worth, even if it is not taken, it is part of the way. She now and then summarizes what has taken place until now in the rehearsals:

  • “Stop and go”, development of different situations:
  • bridges
  • flowing of the water, near and far away
  • fight and win
  • all without commando, without talking, only using one’s own body, the whole group and emotions.
  • Improvisation with one leader and the whole group (=Chorus)
  • Personal bridges, also with different languages, combining the bridges to one big image
  • A community, which is within the circle, only one person is outside, excluded from the group, thethe bridge 5 person outside tries to get in the circle, but the group does not allow is, refuses.
  • Easy and heavy community – two groups: one is floating, flying, dancing, the other one is heavy on the ground, writhing on the floor. Both groups meet and find a common figure.
  • Competition between 2 groups:
    1) they don’t want contact
    2) they want to build a bridge.
    What was before? Which situations? The groups can use all material, which was experienced until now.
  • Competition between 2 groups and their bridges. Which group has the most beautiful bridge, the most ugly, the most “nosy”, “belly“, the most difficult, the longest etc. bridge?

the bridge 6the bridge 7

  • Step by step improvisation: “easy and heavy”, one is “outside“, die other are the community and “inside“.
    Herbert gives with his music improvisations the impulse for the quality of movement on the stage (the character of movement).

the bridge 8

  • Second Step: Description of different locations – village, town, landscape, concrete places, without using words, only by body expression, like a camera
  • Family-pictures: an easy or a heavy family, who is the grandfather, the grandmother, the children, others? Finding always new variations.
  • Building bridges with different parts of the body, which are touching each other

Ideas about the stage design

In Bologna firstly was born the idea of chairs, which can be built to bridges. But the chairs seem to be too bulky, not transmutable. Then there was taken a new idea with suitcases, which was now in Salzburg tested, with the help of many old suitcases. The idea was that the world on the stage is grey, but when the cases are open, they show a colourful inner world, which changes also the world outside. These cases can be built to bridges, too. But after the improvisations this idea it put away, because it does not work. The suitcases don’t fit to the images, which were developed until now by the artists.

The stage designer then puts bunt Saris (Indian clothes) on the stage, which she has hidden/packaged into small presents. She then studies, how the artists envelope the packages, how the different colours and materials fit to the different persons, while the persons play with it on the stage.

After half of the rehearsal time in Salzburg, discussion among the whole group

The actors have the feeling, that they could find a lot of material in their improvisations, and that theythe bridge 9 now want to have a thread, which has to be given by Valeria and Myrto.
Both directors know that too and also had started to work on it. But they say that this will take place the next time, it needs a little time to find that idea which fits to all that has been developed until now.

Discussion about the role of the musician, of Herbert: is he a member of one group (La Baracca or Toihaus) or is he the musician outside of the scenic plays? At the moment he is both, a bridge for the whole improvisations, but also member of the Toihaus-group.

Discussions between Myrto and Valeria about the possible structure of the play:

  • It is very beautiful, when everybody in the group talks at the same time in his language, like a chorus, then they move into bridges, different bridges, a little story is starting, that could be a way into the play.
  • The misunderstandings of the different languages could be an important element.
  • In the picture book of F.K. Waechter the most interesting thing is, that the different animals develop a bridge among them (pig, fish and bird)
  • In the play there should not act animals, but human beings with different characters. How can we tell something only with the body? There should evolve an emotion, there should not be pretended a decision about what is good or bad (for the audience).  It should be the attempt to produce an emotion for the moment.
  • But many people, many children don’t understand the language of dancing or movement, they cannot decode it, so they need other elements, e.g. objects, in order to can pick up the story.

The scenic material, which is developed so far, can be summarized on 4 levels:

  1. A meeting of different theatre-situations (La Baracca and Toihaus)
  2. The level of language – the meeting of different language resulted also in misunderstandings.
  3. The personal conceptions and images of the artists: how many bridges everybody has in himself/herself? Everybody tells another story about bridges.
  4. Italo Calvin: The Invisible Cities, the dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan about the questions of bridges from stone – are the stones or is the arc are carrying the bridge. (look Wikipedia etc.)

Valeria: The message of the play could be:
Every person in every part of the world meets a bridge. You can choose by yourself: do you want to go across the bridge, do you want to stay, not going over the bridge, or do you want to destroy the bridge?
Personal, metaphorical or real bridges. It gives the opportunity to the audience, to decide by himself.
That is an honest message. And it is a special message to the children, who are very often building the bridges for the adults.

the bridge 10

Last day of rehearsals in Salzburg

… last part of the warming-up with Katharina: Solo-improvisation, one part of the body always has to move, surprise each other: how long is the movement, how short, …) let your hands flow, up and down, like waves, like floating …

  • Improvisation with two oppositional celerity and movement: air, easiness, and earth, ground, heaviness. All are on the floor, like a tough mash, or they zip and fly around (“the movement is not easy, when at the same time the legs are fixed to the ground like rots from a tree, express the easiness with the whole body”)
  • One is outside, the others are “inside“. The person outside always does the opposite from the persons inside. Then change: The persons inside always do the opposite from what the person outside is doing.
  • Herbert, decide, on which side you build a bridge:
    There raise wonderful expressive images, e.g. the group builds a heavy bridge on the floor, Katharina zips outside around.
    Another image: the group is moving easily flowing and floating, Carlotta lies on the floor, like a heavy burden, wringing her hands.
  • The person outside tries a connection, a communication with the group inside the circle. A communication by movement, body and sounds.
  • Then change, everybody once is outside, there raise always new details, new stories, with clapping, specific movements, which everybody develops by himself. At the end it often happens, that the person outside succeeds in getting into the group, in becoming a member of the community, but there exists also constant rejection.
  • The same improvisation in a real location, on the croft, among flowers, leaves are falling, a fruit, in a village, a house behind a forest, etc. The group finds a lot of different real places. Try to give the audience an emotion, a sensation.
  • 3 different sorts of families: think about what was developed until now, don’t use dialogues, show only „images“, attitudes – heaviness and easiness, what are the characteristics for the family, what is an easy, what a heavy family? How many children, which father, etc. are there? At the end the family is frozen. Then find a new image.

Summary of phase 2 in a discussion with the whole group

Valeria: 2 different ensembles have created a bridge of communication.
Everybody has found their own personal bridge and represented this on the stage. The task is to tell different simple stories like in the picture book of F. K. Waechter.
The message of the play for the children is: you can build bridges or not, it is your personal decision. It is an honest message, a message of freedom, not a moral-message.

Carlotta likes especially the metaphor that the children are the bridges and the importance of building bridges.

But the message that we always and everywhere are building bridges, and the freedom to do that or not, is also for the adults, of course.

Valeria invites the actors to work on with their personal bridges, she gives the impulse with her personal impressions (Daniela’s bridge is made of questions and rhythm, Fabio’s bridge is the bridge of Kafka, Carlotta’s bridge is made of sounds, Connie’s bridge is the work with her body and rhythm, Katharina is step by step some very specific own bridge) This positions should be developed further on, also with a structure of language, just to continue the exploration.

Herbert: we all have found a common rhythm. Our basic rhythm brings a common harmony. That is very beautiful.
Herbert wants to have a second musician, who together with him makes an arc across the whole play, he alone only can produce special colours to special scenes, but not to the whole play. Additionally Germana should do some voice-coaching in the last days before the premiere in Salzburg, because singing and voice are an important element of the play.

Valeria considers the structure of the play to be like a carrousel: small stories and images, which raise, jump into a situation and jump out, in a circle-movement. This is a musical rhythmical principle, which determines the whole character of the play.

The title “Bridge”:
Connie considers the German word BRÜCKE to be very heavy and strong, somehow static, like big tribes of stone and wood. The Italian word PONTE is soft, flowing, like an arc, which better fits to the character of the play. Perhaps one has to find another subtitle in German.

Myrto will look through all the film documentations and summarize, by email the exchange will be continued.

The dates in the second year of Dandelion:

Phase 3: 9. – 19 December 2009 in Bologna (16 – 19 Decemb er, the group from Berlin and Helga are coming too to Bologna)
Phase 4: 7 – 17 January 2010 in Salzburg

Performances

Salzburg: 17 January (Premiere)– 22 January 2010

Bologna: 24 – 29 January 2010

Trieste:  30 – 31 January 2010

Villach: 7 – 8 April 2010 in the frame of the final Grundtvig-Symposium (7 – 9 April 2010)

the bridge 11

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