STAGE LABORATORY: The Grotesque
The grotesque, a term coined in the 15th century, has come to encompass a variety of mediums and forms–from the visual arts, through to literature and drama and in various theatrical traditions such as mime, dance, butoh and contemporary circus practices. The continuous transgression of the ‘grotesque’ is what interests us and its capacity to constantly shift our focal point of attention–what was once deemed grotesque becomes, in our modern eyes, ‘classical’ and what might today look grotesque might quickly become a standard for something quite different. We will therefore not be looking for a ‘style’ or try to ‘figure out’ what the grotesque might be but to approximate the qualities that the grotesque inhabits. Those qualities are the fundamental essences of play, of transformation, of uncanniness, of something hidden, and as being a fertile ground for cross-fertilization between various theatrical traditions and methods present on the stage.
Iraqi Bodies have, over the past ten years, sought to establish a radical theatre in which all aspects of the scenic arts come together as a unity of time and space rather than distinct disciplines of dramatic theatre, dance/movement, mime and circus. Radical must in this context be seen as an origin, or root–from the Latin radix. Considering that the origin of theatre in Ancient Greece incorporated text, movement, music and acrobatics it seems, to us, the only viable option if true appreciation for ‘theatre’ is to be upheld. Yet there are very rarely opportunities available for actors, dancers, mimes and circus performers to research such a ‘form’ without the constraint of working towards a performance. The laboratory will act as a meeting place for the performers of these disciplines to come together and research various ways of working together.
Throughout the laboratory three questions will be addressed:
o Where do we place the grotesque in theatre: Ancient Greek Tragedy/Comedy, commedia dell’arte and/or ‘Theatre of the Absurd’?
o How does the grotesque upset Aristotelian dramatic structure and catharsis?
o What/Which value-judgement(s) has the grotesque placed on the body? If so, what is and how does a grotesque body behave on stage.
The laboratory is led by Iraqi Bodies’ artistic directors Josephine Gray and Anmar Taha along with international invited artist that will inform the working sessions with their expertise.
20 July – 2 August 2020 at Vitlycke Center for Performing Arts
20-30 January 2021 at Atalante