Work presentation and meeting with Przemek Blaszczak
following the work presentation at Site de pratiques théâtrales Lavauzelle,
in the frame of the programme “Raw materials”, august 12-17 2012
Jean-François Favreau : I wanted to propose a short meeting with Przemek, since he is our guest for the first time, since he led and directed a big part of the work you’ve just seen, and gave us a lot of energy. I’d like to ask him to speak about his work as a pedagogue and leader, and as a director. I know this practice is deeply rooted in his actor’s practice (with Teatr ZAR), but I wanted to ask… you, Przemek, what do you want to be doing in your own work as a creator?
Przemek Blaszczak : I’m mostly interested a the work with the actor through his body experience. So I am first aiming to go with him through a process which will bring him to confidence, and will avoid his body to bring too much resistance in the creative process.
One of the main parts of the workshops, but also the everyday trainings, is the physical training of the actor. It can be understood as an exercise which keeps the body awake, ready, and something I would call “hygiene of the body”, everyday ritual of coming, working, and keeping the body ready. But I am not interested in exercise at all – it is only a tool to go towards creative process.
Working with some people a bit longer, we would try to reach a point where, from warming up and simple exercises, we are able to set a common working level. From this level, it would be able to access the creative field, through improvisations or ready material.
So, this is a quite long process requiring a lot of efforts: you exercise and need efforts to go from the level of exercising to improvising, and then in improvising you can maybe find some elements which would be the beginning of a work of gathering elements of creative material.
I always try to get back to improvisation, so that actor can meet his creative source. Through a long term process of work, I start to expect that actor is able of self-observation. He should be then able to catch moments which could be used later on in a creative process, to build by himself through improvisation a short structure which could be used as material.
It can be done simply: you work with some impulses, start to repeat, to place them in a structure… it can be the beginning of some associations, and lead to something towards performance.
This is from the practical, so-called pedagogical way. But from another angle, in the physicality of the actor, or in what we call “physical theatre”, I’m very interested in reducing, reduction… I really believe that sometimes, to say less is to say more. So building relations between actors, I’m always searching for situations I can reduce to a simple, minimal, form, but still meaningful, potentially. It gives space to a viewer to construct his personal meaning, and his personal involvement in what he is looking at.
Far from illustration, I’m interested in the possibility to bring a reality to the stage, which we can witness, and understand then what is really there. Instead of telling a story, I look for the possibility for the story to happen, without pretending to know all the meanings.
As a director, I want to share my feelings, express a state of my heart or my soul, rather than to build a unique narration.
During the workshops, I try to work with it and to share this view with the participants. In general we always reach a point where it happens that something is said onstage. But my aim is to infect them and to let them go with a taste of this theatre. I hope it’s going to have a positive influence, even though they follow another kind of theatre.
J.-F. Favreau :
I had a wish to ask you something more: can you tell something about an experience of yours where you had to change something about your body work, as a practitioner?
P. Blaszczak :
One example would be when we worked both with Jean-François on Anhelli (Anhelli. The Calling, Teatr ZAR’s performance premiered in 2009 at the Barbican,London). We worked in the field of fallings. The task was to get an orchestra of bodies, falling and playing a rhythm. In practice, it was six of us throwing ourselves on a wooden floor, trying to find strong ways but in tune with rhythmical patterns. We did work a lot in a group. But in a moment, we faced the need for each of us to work on our own.
Since the pictures were very strong, I worked with a lot of tensions in my body. When you fall you’re getting tensed, because you’re afraid to hurt yourself. I started to work on my own very strongly, got injury on my head and locked my spine so well that during 3 weeks I couldn’t work. I was supporting myself so strongly with the structure, beating the floor, that all the vibrations were travelling though the bones to the neck. My spine got twisted so I couldn’t feel my legs. But I needed to continue, since the premiere was coming. This painful experience pushed me to look for a relaxing.
I practice also martial arts, where tensions are used there to protect the body. I thought it was the only truth, and I had to discover a way of complete relaxed way of moving. So without questioning the martial arts I continue to practice, and thanks to this accident, I developed a way of work based on relaxation, which changed my point of view completely.
With age you body is changing, and what I could do 15 years ago with my muscles, I have to do thanks to release, and through my structure. I’m getting tired quicker. In body work you need to search for new solutions, you need to adjust on and on in an infinite process of changing.
Estelle Sorribas :
Did you ever work with older actors?
P. Blaszczak :
I did work inUnited Stateswith mature actors around 50 or 60. We didn’t work so intensively to condition the body, but still you can work a lot with awareness of the body, points of the body which lead you or which can speak, with possibilities of leading, of speaking to the body, closeness… you can do it with actors of any age.
Often actors don’t want to cross a point in the work with the body: it becomes straight ahead something sexual, or they keep artificial distances… the key of the possibility to create a normal contact, it’s the body. It’s always a necessary step, and it’s always working.
I always feel ashamed to work with a person who is 30 years older than me because I don’t see the reason. I wouldn’t be able to act like such a person. If I would have such task, I’d need to make a research, to build a training to see how it works when the structure is weaker. I’d need also to understand how works body with such an history.
Przemyslaw Blaszczak is an actor of Teatr ZAR from Wroclaw, Poland, where he leads the physical training. He worked as well with the Song of the goat theatre, trained in Aikido and Aikitaïso, and staged his own works. He is a long term collaborator of the Grotowski Institute. In 2012, he collaborates with the director Terzopoulos. As an independent artist, and in cooperation with Nini Julia Bang, he developed through workshops and work-meetings an artistic platform named “Embraces”.