Istropolitana Day 3 & 4

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I’m afraid this post might be a little messy as I’m writing it at 1am. Please do excuse me if it all seems a little rushed…it is.

We owe Istropolitana a huge thank you. The whole festival has been extremely well organized and we’ve been treated very well. The presence of our guides has been fantastic and they’ve made us feel very welcome. It has been a pleasure to take part in the festival.

Most of Day Three was spent rehearsing for our show. We were given rehearsal space in the theatre school for the day, without which we would have been in trouble. In the morning we met with our directors Teresa and Andrzej Wełmiński who we haven’t seen since the beginning of last term. It was lovely to see them and I really enjoyed rehearsing with them again. Due to the nature of the set and props this was the first time we’d actually rehearsed with a number of set pieces. The rehearsals were very productive but we uncovered a lot that needed work and I ended the rehearsals feeling rather apprehensive about the whole thing.

Day Four of course was the day of the performance. In the morning we arrived at the school nice and early to collect our stuff only to find that it had already been packed and transported to the theatre for us! And what a theatre! Considering the nature of the work we do at Rose Bruford, I have not performed on a raised stage for about 6 or 7 years. It was intimidating to say the least. The theatre was quite grand and very traditional, which was worrying given the style of our piece. To accommodate this new space we needed to rework a lot of the performance in a very short amount of time. Again I was really quite worried by the end of the rehearsals and felt as though the work was not ready to be shown. Having said that, it was getting there.

I think this is a good time for a quick shout out to our Stage Manager. Sarah has worked really quickly and efficiently, cutting new music on the go and really using the lights to transform the space into a less traditional, more suited atmosphere. Without her this entire thing would be impossible and without someone as incredibly compliant as Sarah the piece would not have run as smoothly or skilfully as it did. So, super special thanks!

Now before I go into the run itself, check this out.

Not only did we have a real stage to play on, we also had dressing rooms – WITH TV’S IN! And a shower, and a bed! All this combined with the fact we didn’t have to cart all our stuff through Bratislava the way we expected has spoiled us! We didn’t know what to do with such luxury; so we wept.

So, I’ll tell you very small bit about our show…Ok I lied, I’m not going to do any work at all. I’m just going to reproduce what we’ve written in the programme:

The spectacle has been created by a young company of third year BA (hons) European Theatre Arts students of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and directed by Teresa and Andrzej Wełmiński, visual artists and members of the internationally recognised Cricot2 Theatre of Tadeusz Kantor.

The performance was born from the selected texts and art works of Bruno Schulz, who was one of the most important and influential Polish authors of the 20th Century. Bruno Schulz’s stories present an extraordinary description of the lives of Polish Jews in a small city, as well as his own autobiography, all infused together in a dream-like poetry, where the lines between myth and reality are blurred. Schulz’s creation is an original phenomenon within the international literature world that has links with surrealism and psychoanalysis, as well as Franz Kafka’s modern Expressionism.

The methodology used within the devising process of the piece came from the practices of Kantor’s Cricot2 Theatre, in particular relying on the main ideology of autonomous theatre, where all participating dramaturgical elements are of equal value. As a result, the performance was created through strong musical, visual and artistic stimuli, which the performers freely and confidently juggle using various theatrical techniques and conventions. Within this spectacle various types of artists can be observed: the chorus, the orchestra, the narrator, the animators of objects (and space), the actors. All elements work together in close collaboration and closely inter-relate to create a grand unification.

Josef’s father is dead.

Josef is travelling to meet him.

His destination, the Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, is a place of stillness and repose, where dusty memories are kicked up and new connections forged.  Long-ago friendships and forgotten fathers frequent the town.  Past times and lost events are routinely re encountered, made real, reinvented and re evaluated – and their resultant time lines recalculated.

And very few answers easily gotten.
In 1942, Bruno Schulz was shot dead by the Gestapo whilst buying a loaf of bread. 70 years later, in a year to celebrate his writing, a company of 50 performers brings to the stage a selection of extracts from his short stories in a performance heavily influenced by the methods of Polish experimental avant-gardist Tadeusz Kantor.

The show went very well. Much better than expected. Obviously it could be better. But we’re very pleased. The audience were incredibly kind applauding us at certain intervals during the performance (they especially liked a scene which involves a circle of animated wax figures) and giving us a standing ovation. This is absolutely unlike anything I have ever experienced before and the male contingency of us spent the next quarter hour running around the dressing room and flexing our muscles in the mirrors!

After all this was done we quickly took down the set and hit the club, which as I mentioned before, is right next to the theatre! Here we drank ourselves into a gentle stupor and exchanged words with many people. Including my twin and the students of the Gardzienice Academy of Theatre Practices.

Some of us seem to be benefiting from our show already too. Sarah was swiftly jumped on to help operate the technical side of a show tomorrow by Central School of Speech and Drama, and my good friend Lawrence was recruited to be the poster boy for Istropolitana 2014!

In the morning, we had to take our hangovers with us to a meeting in which we discussed the work and responded to certain questions. Again, people were very interested in us and seemed to enjoy our presence there. We also got our reviews in, which were very impressive!

We were granted one 4 stars, one 4 and a half, and one full 5 stars. The review was also very favourable and described one of my friends as a “sexy miss” which is excellent.

All in all a very successful venture. This sort of marks the end of my degree also! Even though I finished all the work a week ago, this was still sort of a continuation of it. But no more.

Done.

Dusted.

The end.

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