OPEN! >

A multicultural theater and educational project of Strefa WolnoSlowa Foundation

It’s open, please come in, please leave your shoes on, please.
It’s always been open.
Open!
It’s so natural and spontaneous, so normal that it’s open.
This is such a good and simple impulse to let somebody in, to invite.
Without calculating whether it’s worth it, without thinking about the consequences.
Trust.
Only in this way it’s possible to meet.
And develop.
Behind the door there’s a Stranger.
We’re about to look at him through the peephole.
We’re about to judge him from a safe distance.
We have to act fast.
Before the fear machinery works.
Before we trap ourselves in stereotypes.
Is it open?
Has it always been open?

OPEN! is a theatre project which involves people of different ages and different cultural backgrounds in creative work revolving around themes of multiculturalism. Within the project we run a multicultural theatre workshop in Staromiejski Dom Kultury in Warsaw and in Warsztat in Konstytucji Square, which ended with a performance as well as a series of debates and educational meeting for teenagers. The performance was shown between May and November 2013 in Warsaw and its vicinity, in theatres, cultural centres and schools. Within the project we organised also a workshop on journalism for teens.   

THE PERFORMANCE

The multicultural theatre workshop involved ca. 20 participants of different age, both Poles and foreigners living in Poland. An intergenerational and multicultural theatre group has been formed, consisting both of Poles and foreigners who have lived in Warsaw for many years, as well as newcomers.

Through working on Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” a performance was created. It is based on Tomasz Gromadka’s dramaturgy and directed by Alicja Borkowska, and revolves around topics of interpersonal and intercultural communication, linguistic and non-verbal understanding as well as creative potential hidden in misunderstanding.  “Cathedral” was the starting point for participants’ verbal and physical improvisations, which then contributed to the dramaturgy of the performance drawing on true stories. The performance reflects on migration, language, being a stranger in a certain country as well as the inability or difficulty to translate feelings, experiences, worlds to language in general or to a foreign one. The dramaturgy is created basing on the outcomes of participants’ verbal and physical improvisation, their individual stories and thoughts as well as newspaper materials, articles, reportage, etc.

During the workshop we used the potential of different types of media and in theatre exercises we compared real stories connected with migration with their media adaptations in the press, film and TV.  Thanks to this interdisciplinary method of dramaturgy creation not only do the workshop and the performance help the participants to develop drama skills but also teach critical approach to media content and the ability to adapt it artistically. During the first few workshops the participants took part in ice-breaking games, basic drama tasks, theatre games, individual and group improvisations, exercises with space, body and voice.  In the second part of our workshops the participants worked with text and prepared materials for the dramaturgy.

Raymond Carver’s „Cathedral“ was present in workshop activities. However, it was only used by members of the multicultural group as inspiration and reference for improvisation and creation of characters, stories and mini-scripts.

“Cathedral” became the framework of a story in which multicultural participants used their own experiences, individual stories and creativity. The exercises carried out during the workshops (creative writing, theatre improvisation, working with the body, object and space) as well as group work made the participants tell their stories and create characters.

The final outcome of the workshops is an interactive theatre performance. The project creates conditions for intercultural dialogue both within the workshop group and between creators and public during the final theatrical event.

The performance will give an opportunity for dialogue between direct participants of the project and local community, especially teenagers.

TEENAGERS

The performance is beeing shown to a wide audience both in theatres and cultural centres, as well as in schools. Performances are combined with meetings with young people. During such meetings we talk about migration and the image of foreigners living in our country, as presented by the media. Additionally, the participants of the workshops have an opportunity to share their experiences connected with living in Poland. As a result, teenagers gain some knowledge about foreigners who live in our country, about migration processes in Europe, and above all they see how real stories can build up the dramaturgy of an artistic event and how through art you can create a meeting place between people of different ages and cultural backgrounds.  Discussion meetings with teenagers have an interactive form of 1-hour-long classes, during which young people have an opportunity to ask questions, participate in discussions and a few practical drama exercises carried out by the project staff.

REPORTAGE

Within the project we organised also an interdisciplinary journalism workshop for a group of 10 teenagers, run by Joanna Szyndler. She is a member of Strefa WolnoSlowa board and editor-in-chief of “Podroze” magazine. Young people learnt the basics of journalism and emphasis was putted on interviewing. They had an opportunity to use the gained knowledge in practice while interviewing the participants of the multicultural theater workshop. The class consisted of two parts: theoretical and practical one. In the practical part young students participated in the last part of the theatre workshop, that is in preparing the performance. They interviewed Polish and foreign workshop participants. The interviews, together with a photographic documentation, will be included in a publication summarising the project.

Coordination of the project: Alicja Borkowska a.borkowska@strefawolnoslowa.pl

The project is realized with the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.