the grotesque iraqi bodies

stage laboratory

27.07 - 02.08

Stage laboratory by Iraqi Bodies, company based in Gothenburg, Sweden and led by artistic directors Anmar Taha and Josephine Gray. The laboratory at Vitlycke – Centre for Performing Arts is supported by The Gothenburg Culture Committee and Region Västra Götaland Cultural Affairs Committee.

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.

We have invited performers from Europe and the Middle East to join us in this years laboratory.

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.

Throughout the laboratory three questions will be addressed:

  • Where do we place the grotesque in theatre: Ancient Greek Tragedy/Comedy, commedia dell’arte and/or ‘Theatre of the Absurd’?
  • How does the grotesque upset Aristotelian dramatic structure and catharsis?
  • 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 will be 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.

Iraqi Bodies

The work of Iraqi Bodies explores the link between movement and gesture, between dance and physical theater. Their artistic practice is deeply anchored in the theory and method of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and others. By letting the body speak of the trauma of life and the predicament of man their work wishes to transcend any human differences and instead create scenes to show a reality shared by all. A poetic reality that finds the light in the deepest darkness of life.

Iraqi Bodies have been recognized for their works such as Unidentified, Vowels, Gerontion and Possessed. Each piece is a unique process depending on the themes explored and involves performers, set designers and musicians from all corners of the earth.

Iraqi Bodies have performed at festivals in Denmark, France, Belgium, Holland, South Korea, Italy, Greece, Spain, Serbia, Iran, Lebanon, (Short Stories, Tanec Praha, Kalamata International Dance Festival, Madrid en Danza, BIPOD, Fadjr International Theater Festival, Attakalari India Biennal, LEYMOUN, Festivale Constante Cambiamento) just to mention a few. In Sweden their performances have been invited to perform at Dansens Hus Stockholm, Inkonst Malmö, Vara Konserthus, Pustervik Teater, Atalante, among other places.

Iraqi Bodies are based in Gothenburg, Sweden, led by Artistic directors Anmar Taha and Josephine Gray.

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