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S.O.A.R. Study of a Rice Queen

THE LAB:  the very first public presentation of work-in-progress by Ming Poon, in collaboration with the Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung (2022-2023).

“This is part of my ongoing artistic research on developing performance strategies to decolonize my body and its representation as an Asian person within the European hegemony. In S.O.A.R. Queen, I turn my research focus on my queer Asian body. Western queer culture and theory are overwhelmingly used as the point of reference in mainstream discourse and understanding of queerness, whitewashing the queer expressions of other cultures. I see this as a form of cultural colonization. As an expansionist project, colonialism is as much about occupying foreign territories, as it is about appropriating culturally-othered bodies and erasing their cultural contexts, histories and knowledge.

In this research, my aim is to develop performance strategies to decolonize queerness through the use of drag as a tool to challenge and de-center the hegemonic west-centric notion of queerness, as well as, disrupt the heteropatriarchal norms in Chinese culture. The task is to construct conceptual prototypes for a decolonial and anti-patriarchal drag, which takes its central reference from the male-to-female impersonation in Chinese opera called Nan Dan (男旦).

S.O.A.R. Queen is supported by the Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung (2022-23). Over a period of 2 years, I work with the 3 archetypal female roles that are most celebrated in Chinese opera: 1) the warrior, 2) the lover and 3) the concubine. This first phase of the research is dedicated to the female warrior: Mulan (花木兰).”

– Ming Poon

Followed by a post-performance discussion

Back Home

THE LAB: Artist and Audience Development

Rule of Three Collective are together again. For the first time since March 2020.

In the meantime, we’ve spent hours and hours at home; working for money, working out, working out our social lives, working without being paid for it, working on better sleep. How has this time changed our ideas of home? What do we need in order to feel at home? What else can be a home apart from the physical space we live in? And what happens when three performers finally come back to a space they haven’t been to in a while – a theater?

During the residency at ETB | IPAC, Rule of Three Collective will re-embark on an open journey towards notions of home and share some of the findings at the end of the week. Join us back home!

Followed by a post-performance discussion

Fiasko

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett.

Fiasko is a work-in-progress performance by the Latin American-European collective ABA NAIA as part of THE LAB, the new work development program of English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center. The collective invites the audience to a radicalized idea of failure that ties into contemporary conversations. It is a comical and humorous disruption of the expectations of theater. In Fiasko, the ambivalence and power relations of comedy are explicitly portrayed through performative failure.

The pandemic condemns us to failure at all ends, slows us down and makes us fall into despair. We have taken a close look at the miseries of our time and developed strategies of disrupting, sabotaging and corrupting the expected way of being on stage. All the way to the Grande Fiasko!

Fiasko started as a performative research funded by the 2021 #TakeCare program of Fonds Darstellende Künste.

Please note that tickets are extremely limited due to the current health and safety regulations. We encourage guests to secure their tickets as soon as possible.

To attend the performance, you must wear an FFP2 mask and present a negative antigen quick test for COVID-19 that is not older than 24 hours or proof of your complete vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. Please book a test date in advance from an official test center, e.g. www.test-to-go-berlin. Please observe our health and safety measures.

Zugang mit FFP2-Maske und aktuellem negativen Antigen-Schnelltest (nicht älter als 24 Stunden) oder Nachweis des vollständigen Impfschutzes bzw. der Genesung. Bitte buchen Sie vorab eigenständig Ihren verbindlichen Testtermin bei einem offiziellen Testzentrum, bspw. über www.test-to-go.berlin. Bitte beachten Sie unsere Hygiene- und Schutzmaßnahmen.

The Lab: Wer ist Medea?

Wer ist Medea?/ Who is Medea?/ Quem é Medeia?

How can we interpret a classic of dramatic literature in 2019? Why work with classics at all? Let’s go back…to the beginnings…and let’s start with a universally despised woman.

Wer ist Medea? is a music theater performance as well as a spoken word concert, manifesto, choreography, emotional rehearsal, a tragic monologue or maybe just an homage to all those women that are hated just because their stories were written by men.

This performance is the very first presentation of a work-in-progress, the first interaction with an audience. In between the many layers of performance, constructed upon the interpretations of a variety of authors, we work as archaeologists to understand and unearth Medea.

Who is Medea? The personification of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, a mother who kills her own children? Or the woman who sees her children being murdered by her enemies? The cruel and cold woman that betrayed her own father, the king, killed her brother and abandoned her own country in the name of love? Or a strong and independent woman that serves as an existential threat to patriarchal society? A woman blinded by her thirst of revenge or the victim of an ambitious and unscrupulous man? A mother that in a final act of love chooses to deliver her children to the embrace of death instead of leaving them in the hands of her cruel enemies?

Join us and find out.

An attempt to create a new dramaturgy inspired by the mythological character Medea, herself the subject of a myriad of different authors who wrote about her, reinvented her and imagined her, including Euripides, Heiner Müller, Christa Wolf, Chico Buarque and Paulo Pontes.

Performed in English, German and Portuguese

THE LAB: FAILED EPIC

“This century will be American. American thought will dominate it. American deeds will give it direction.”

When these words were first published in John Dos Passos’ seminal trilogy of novels collectively titled U.S.A. (1930 – 1938), they were undoubtedly intended to arouse feelings of patriotism, pride and optimism. Today this sentiment has a much more menacing tone than when it was written. FAILED EPIC seeks to embrace the menace implied in Dos Passos’ nationalistic nostalgia by taking a forgotten mainstay of the American Literary Canon and deconstructing it in a contemporary “news show” context.

In the performance, apocalyptic headlines from the beginning of the 20th century are reported in real time, only to be interrupted with live interviews, pre-recorded human interest pieces, on-location reporting, talking-head analysis and other layers of media within media. As the overabundance of fictional and historical narratives start to accumulate, we begin to see a timely portrait of a nation on the verge of collapse, as ideological divisions, economic inequality, and impending war threaten to destroy it.

Following an international cast of performers, we walk through a global landscape of characters whose lives are determined by massive, unseen forces–economics, disease, addiction, precarious working conditions, prejudice and accidental death. In the face of injustice, these people dream of revolution. Anarchists, Marxists, Wobblies, Capitalists, Socialists, Feminists–all are waiting to witness the death of the status quo. In these untragic lives, we see our own, with a bluntness that shifts the focus from the details of the individual stories to the universal dissatisfaction experienced in all of them.

Not only is this picture of a world divided into ideological and economic tribes a contemporary one, but–like today’s amateur online pundits–the people in this dystopia do not suffer in silence. Media serves to aggravate divisions among already splintered populations, as everyone sources their talking points from the political movement of their choice. Likewise, the success or failure of these movements seems to hang entirely on the oratory abilities of their leaders, who hold wild, Trump-like rallies aimed at “stirring up” followers, who will serve as foot soldiers in a bloody war of ideas.

Dos Passos’ own role in this conflict is still unresolved, as many contemporary critics characterize U.S.A. as “a failed epic by a writer out of his depth.” The goal of this performance is not to restore the author’s reputation, but rather to use his novels as a way of engaging with the Pre-War zeitgeist. Unlike his contemporaries Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Dos Passos’ prose does not need to be unpacked or even admired. Instead, it simply needs to unfold like a Twitter feed or scrolling news crawl, as a seemingly endless series of shocking, strange, mundane, and compelling events accumulate, coalescing into a complex portrait of a democracy at a crossroads, with no clear consensus on which way to go next.

Followed by a post-performance discussion

Olam HaBa: The Next World

Who was this Polish Jew that pulled his pants down in front of everyone and sat on the holy book with his bare bottom?

Who was this Jakob Frank, revered by his fans as a messiah and who converted from Judaism to Islam and from Islam to Catholicism? Who was persecuted by the powerful in Poland in the 18th century, spent many years in prison in Tschenstochau and whose story came to a strange but happy end in Offenbach am Main?

The performers LeinzLieberman have searched for the motives behinds this mystical messianic movement over the course of multiple trips tracing the footsteps of Jakob Frank. And they let themselves, together with the designer and DJ Markus Wente, be inspired by it in their new performance. They bring motifs and texts of Jakob Frank to the stage and then transform it into images and movements that also reflect the feelings and desires of people in the Berlin art and party scenes. Using both subtle and expansive images, they tell the story of a search for a new world in which all parts are once again integrated into a complete whole.

 

Followed by a post-performance discussion

LeinzLieberman are the performance makers Shlomo Lieberman (Israel/Germany) and Ulrich Leinz (Germany). Over the last three years, their work has been included in three consecutive Expat Expo | Immigration Invasion festivals and we premiered their groundbreaking The Other/Promised Land in the fall of 2016. We are very excited to host them – collaborating with colleagues – as our fall artists in residence, presenting three different works in September, October and November.

Lovers1 will be performed on September 29 and The Other/Promised Land will be performed on October 13.

Ich Kann Nicht Atmen

What do you do if you can’t do anything?

Taking its cue from Václav Havel’s seminal 1978 essay The Power of the Powerless, the performance-lecture Ich kann nicht atmen [IKNA] gives an insider’s account – bitter, hilarious and savagely satirical – of what it’s like to live inside the immersive, sensurround scam that various lobbyists, eco-hypocrites and political pygmies have defined as energetische Modernisierung.

The profit-led and undesired changes to one particular apartment building, for which the inhabitants ultimately pay, serves as an example of how the face of an entire capital city is being fundamentally and irrevocably altered for generations to come.

Followed by a post-performance discussion in collaboration with Theater Scoutings Berlin!

THE LAB: Two Works On Death And Dying

We all search for order, clarity or a sense of narrative when we lose the ones we love or reflect on our own mortality. But it would seem that the search is in vain. Death is cruel, disordered, chaotic, tragic and, sometimes, hilarious.

Two Works on Death and Dying is an attempt to unearth the psychology and mythology that surround the theme of death. It is told in two parts: And Then She Departed in the Most Secret of Manners, a deeply personal story of loss and The Mandragora and other Beliefs, an intense meditation on the afterlife. The artists invite you to join this cathartic event in the making and to celebrate with them the inevitability of loss, grief, fear, death and our will to survive.

Followed by a post-performance discussion


Marcelina Bozek was born in a small city in Poland in 1985. She moved to Krakow immediately after high school, where she graduated from university with a Master’s degree in humanistic studies. While studying, she worked extensively with numerous theaters in Krakow. Marcelina has taught theater workshops and acting courses for many years. In October 2014 she moved to Berlin, where she continues her development as an artist, theater trainer (Instant Theatre Berlin) and cultural manager (Plötzlich am Meer Festival). She runs theater workshops, performs as an independent artist and works for art and music festivals as part of the production team. She practices physical theater methods, contact improvisation and contemporary dance. Since moving to Berlin, Marcelina has continuously worked with Tatwerk – Performative Forschung, a theater, dance and performance studio, in an ongoing collaborative relationship.

Jahman Davine is an Australian-born theater maker working between Melbourne, Australia and Berlin, Germany. Having graduated from the National Theatre Drama School, he has also studied the Anne Bogart and Tadashi Suzuki methods with Zen Zen Zo, Australia’s leading physical theater company. Davine’s productions walk a formal tightrope between chaos and order, using philosophy and mythology to investigate themes of social ideology, fantasy and taboo. Often containing little story and void of modern characters, his work seeks to engage the audience’s collective cerebral and physical responses to time, space and causality composition. By counterpointing poetic text, visual art, spatial design, color and light, theme, myth and music to the performers’ bodies, Davine aims to create a total audience experience. In this way, he endeavors to define a new form of performing arts, one which is independent from other art forms to offer the unique possibility of an extraordinary group experience, influenced by the historic human necessity for tragic celebration, ritual and cathartic connection.

Michelle Myers is a Berlin-based writer/performer from Melbourne, Australia. After completing her training at the National Theatre Drama School in 2010, she has worked extensively in theater and film. She worked as a performer/script developer with immersive theater companies Underground Cinema, Secret Squirrel and Little Sister Productions for four years. In 2014 she co-founded TBC, an independent company focused on challenging traditional notions of theatre through unconventional staging and venues. In 2015 she studied at the William Esper Studio in New York. Her recent projects include film The Fiery Escape directed by Mehdi Messouci (MANEKINO – Berlin) and Illusion Woman, a solo performance piece written and directed by Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson for the The Soul Of Money exhibition at DOX Center for Contemporary Art, Prague.

TURI (Turi Agostino) is an Australian-born producer/composer/performer currently based in Berlin. Trained over the last 20 years as a classical pianist and well versed in the world of electronic and ambient sounds, he has worked in the fields of live and studio production, sound design for film and live performance for most of his career. He has toured nationally around Australia with various outfits in a variety of festivals and venues.

THE LAB: My Head Is An Animal

The performance deals with the critical voice inside your own mind. That annoying one that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how hard you try. Questioning who is the voice inside your head and are you listening? It’s also about my mother but that’s a long story so we can save that for later.

A solo piece using text, movement and audio with gentle audience participation.

 

Followed by a post-performance discussion

 

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Lauren Hart was born in Sheffield, England in 1985. She graduated in 2007 from Central School of Speech and Drama School in London where she trained as a performer. Since graduating she has worked professionally in the independent theater community around Europe performing her own work and collaborating with directors, choreographers (Willi Dorner, Anu Almagro, Andrew Loretto, Neil Bettles and Sarah Duffy) and theater companies (You Me and Bum Bum Train, The Other Way Works and Nodding Dog). She has performed at various venues in the UK (The Crucible, Camden People’s Theatre, Theatre Delicatessen, Arnolfini, Bank Street Arts and Live Art Bistro) and in various site-specific locations throughout Europe. She has performed in the UK, Greece, Norway, Germany and Finland.

She moved to Berlin in 2015 and works as a freelance theater maker and performer. Since arriving in Berlin she has collaborated with Fang Lu on her video art project Ex Lovers and she has performed her one-to-one performance This is Mine. What’s Yours? in the 2016 Expat Expo | Immigrant Invasion Festival at English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Art Center and Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte. Wrought-Sheffield (one-to-one performance Festival, UK) commissioned her to develop and perform a new cross cultural performance I’m not (t)here anymore which uses Skype video call to connect the UK and Germany. The performance was shown as part of the festival in April 2016 in both Berlin and Sheffield.

In September 2016 she was invited to perform This is Mine. What’s Yours? at the Pori Theater Festival in Finland. Follow a collaboration with German artist Dara Friedman, the video poetry project featuring one of her poems will be shown at the gallery Supportico Lopez in spring 2017.

THE LAB: Three Red Roses

Three Red Roses is a science fiction, dystopian performance.

Τaking significant contemporary technological advancements as a starting point, the performance deals with the conflict between man and machine. Following a non-linear narrative, the piece depicts a visual journey through space and time, from tribal life to artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which ultimately results in a parable examining the nature of human existence.

Followed by a post-performance discussion in conjunction with Theater Scoutings Berlin!

Despina Kapetanaki was born in Athens, Greece and holds a degree in theater studies from the University of Athens as well as a diploma in acting. While living in Dublin, Ireland, she completed a Master’s degree in literary translation at Trinity College and worked as performer and acting instructor. In Dublin she was also introduced to the actor’s psycho-physical and vocal training by Nervousystem Theatre Company. She worked as a drama teacher and actor in Athens from 2009 to 2012.

In April 2012 she was based in Bielefeld, Germany, where in collaboration with Bielefeld University she founded the Experimental Theater Studio. She created and directed various projects with the studio, including site-specific performances. In August 2014, she was invited by Odin Teatret in Denmark to participate in the Odin Week Festival, an international festival for theory and practice which includes an intensive introduction to Odin Teatret’s training and working methods as well as lectures and discussions with the director Eugenio Barba. She has lived and worked in Berlin since 2015. Her piece Politically Correct was presented during the 2016 Berlin Performing Arts Festival.

As a performer, she creates her own projects inspired by daily life and the contemporary sociopolitical situation. Her work is a combination of physical theater, performance and dance. She is interested in performing without using a separate stage, enhancing this way the communication between the audience and the performer.