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PS122 — Festival of American Theatre in Zagreb: best performances of the New York downtown scene on Stage Travno

Cult authors and theatre groups of the New York downtown scene gathered around the theatre Performance Space 122 will visit Zagreb as part of their European tour; this time in the organisation of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Algorithmic musical Yesterday Tomorrow directed by Annie Dorsen is scheduled for November 22, 2015 while on November 25 and 26 you will be able to see performances of choreographic research Thank you for coming: Attendance choreographed and directed by Faye Driscoll. The programme will be held at the Cultural Centre Travno.

PS122 for the past 35 years has been a cult place of the independent American theatre that promotes all kinds of performative arts such as performance, happenings and dance, incites open cultural dialogue and has for a long time been a referential point of the innovative New York stage.

A round table has been held as part of the Festival of American Theatre in the CNT Foyer on the independent theatre space in New York. The Festival was organised by the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb under the title New York’s Alternative Theatre – PS 122.

The guests of the round table were artists from New York led by the artistic leader of Performance Space-a 122 Vallej Gantner, stage director Annie Dorsen and producer Alexandra Rosenberg. The general manager of the CNT in Zagreb Dubravka Vrgoč addressed the visitors in her introduction and presented the guests, announcing how this is a dialogue with a goal to better get acquainted with the working process and aesthetics of the alternative American theatre.

The artistic director Gantner shortly presented Performance Space 122 and said how it is an artistic space where diverse programmes are performed, but it is also a particular institution that commissions and finances alternative/ experimental theatre projects, in an attempt to maintain the continuity of the alternative theatre in New York. Performance space 122 emerged during the mid-1980s with a desire to make the silent voices be heard. It all commenced with the outburst of the HIV epidemics in artistic circles and with the hurting of many, because the theatre until then did not offer a venue to those who have been hit by this. By organising the QUEER FESTIVAL, the level of recognition of problems in the wider public had been raised and it made way for other significant issues, that is, those themes that gave space to voices that were never heard until then from the stage. On these fundamentals Performance Space 122 built its aesthetics that is based on the conscious selection of young, not acclaimed artists who approach the theatre art in an innovative manner, cherishing alternative theatre expression that is not main-stream.

Despite all financial problems, this effort is still active with a note that throughout the past few years there have been some co-productions in Europe without whose logistics and financial support it would have been impossible to complete some of the projects, said stage director Annie Dorsen. The producer Alexandra Rosenberg added how marketing on the independent American theatre stage only implies the raising of funds. The artistic director Gantner explained the structure of the annual budget that amounts to 5.1 million $ of which less than 10% comes from ticket sales, while the largest part of income is realised from donations or money from various foundations. Annie Dorsen critically pointed out that the educational system does not sufficiently combine the study of history and theory with a practical part in the theatre. At the end the guests replied to several questions from the visitors explaining how the theatre did not respond sufficiently quickly to the explosion of new media unlike film or museums and that this is what they are doing right now – creating an artistic breakthrough into the world that has entirely altered.


Sunday, 22.11., 20 h, Stage Travno

Yesterday Tomorrow is a new type of musical; a cooperation between living artists and evolutionary algorithms. A live choir in real time receives an algorithmically generated score in order to hold a concert with songs, machines, gestures, light and space. Yesterday Tomorrow uses some type of artificial intelligence inspired by evolutionary algorithms which implement the principles of Darwin’s natural selection and Mendelian genetics to produce a unique experience of complexity and the unpredictability of the present in contrast with the known past and the imagined future. With this new project Annie Dorsen continues to develop algorithmic theatre, computer creativity and transformations in real time.

Annie Dorsen is an author and stage director that works in diverse areas including theatre, film and dance and since 2009, algorithmic performance. From more recent works, her algorithmic project on Hamlet A Piece of Work appeared at On the Boards (Seattle), Brooklyn Academy of Music (NYC), Parc de la Villette (Paris), Next Wave Festival organised by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (NYC), etc.

Photo:  Roland Rauschmeier


Wednesday, 25.11., Thursday, 26.11. 20 h, Stage Travno

In the first work of her new performative series Thank you for Coming: Attendance Driscoll she leads the audience into a playful and intriguing, unruly adventure. Attendance is a skilfully formed and choreographic playful research that softens the boundary between the spectator and participants, inviting the audience to join the improvised 75-minute community. In this performance, the performers go through the eternally adjustable states of physical complexity and scenes of distorted familiarity, building new bodies, new stories and new ways of existence of the ceaselessly created and reinterpreted group experience. Putting the performances into an intimate circle-like shape, Driscoll creates an intensified reality of observation, invitation and inter-dependency. While the spectators and the performers gradually become one, a beautiful and chaotic common identity surfaces, culminating in a dynamic ritual of action and transformation.

Faye Driscoll is a choreographer and stage director, laureate of the Bessie Award that The New York Times called “an amazing original talent”. Her work is enrooted in the obsession with the problem to be ‘someone’ in the world of some ‘others’ in all conflicts and comedies that emerge in our interaction with others. Currently she is working on a performative series titled THANK YOU FOR COMING which involves the spectators and invokes the feeling of mutual creation.

Foto: Maria Baranova

Trailer http://vimeo.com/130767922