The new year’s DAS Theatre Block programme, The Mything Link – Breaking Stories from the Dawn of Time, also offers plenty of opportunities for you to join us in the coming two months.
“It is necessary to strain one’s ears, bending down toward the muttering of the world, trying to perceive the many images that have never turned into poetry, so many phantasms that have never reached the colours of wakefulness.” Michel Foucault
South African playwright and director Brett Bailey is the curator of this 2 months programme. Starting from an engagement with myth in his own work, his wish to contextualize, deepen and expand his fascination has led to the following questions: What ancient, unconscious, cultural meanings and knowledge do myths hold for us today? How can myths resonate with the fraught era in which we are living? What harmful prejudices do they perpetuate, and how can we rid them of those prejudices?
Brett Bailey: “From about 2003 I began to engage directly with Greek mythology in my work, bringing it together with social concerns. My adaptation of Dood Paard’s MEDEIA was a promenade performance reflecting on xenophobia and the low status of African refugee women living in South Africa.
ORFEUS, based on the Greek myth of the poet who travelled to the Underworld in search of his bride, touched on the value of immigrants, the healing power of the arts, and showed an underworld populated with contemporary souls trapped in sweatshops, torture cells, and sex trafficking: “the mutterers of the world”.
And SANCTUARY draws on the myth of the labyrinth that holds the predatory minotaur on the Mediterranean island of Crete, to talk about the perilous journey taken by asylum seekers and refugees to find sanctuary in the EU.”
Storytelling has (re)claimed its place in the cultural landscape, and is also being widely applied –resuscitated – as a sophisticated marketing tool. Courses in classical mythology are booming. The predominant cultural canon is being questioned. Absent or silent narratives about oppression are being rearticulated, voiced and heard.
In order to function as a myth, according to the scholar Hans Blumenberg, a narrative must always answer a need for significance in a specific period and context. Philosopher Chiara Bottici recognizes this, arguing that myths indeed should be seen as re-appropriations and as the preservation and transmission of images, symbols, stories and narratives that give significance to people’s lives and worlds. As such, people play an active role in the workings of myth and are not merely persuaded by them.
All of the participants in this Block (first-year students and two guest students) have chosen a foundational myth to bring into the programme. This material will be transformed, its ‘workings’ explored, in workshops and encounters with artists, curators, theoreticians and practitioners.
The trajectory of the Block is defined loosely by the basic structure of the path that a mythical hero follows towards self-actualization: the retreat from the conventional world: going "into the woods"; confronting the crisis; transformation; the return to society.
Guest teachers include:
- Vincent Mantsoe, South African choreographer and Julia Raynham, performance artist from South Africa will be focusing on grounding the self, and introspection through movement, dreams, the sacred, divination, ceremony and sound.
- Mythologist Will Linn will offer a weeklong series of multimedia and discussion sessions around mythic storytelling: symbolic imagery, archetypal character and mythic narrative.
- Sahand Sahebdivani from the Amsterdam based Storytelling centre Mezrab brings in his storytelling toolkit.
- Italian director Simone Derai shares his practice of visual analysis, inspired by the work of Aby Warburg. He will deal with violence, the narration of sacrifice and killing, using strategies of hiding and revealing.
- Choreographer Marcelo Evelin will focus in his workshop on the transformation moment, referencing the Quarup funereal rite of the Xingu Indians of Brazil and carnival; Butoh – death as reinvention of the body; film, movement, glitter, ritual, sensuality, trance
- Visual Artist and DJ Daniela Bershan will engage in a parallel teaching week together with visual artist Pixie Johnson. From a political angle, an appetite for liminal spaces – Somatic Djing, Fake Ritual – and image making practices, and with a proposed aesthetic of the remix, the material will be connected to a cultural-political context of the present.
- In 2 curator’s seminars, we will encounter curators whose practices intersect with the themes of the block. Notably Wayne Modest (Ethnographic museum of Leiden), Max-Phlipp Aschenbrenner (Ruhrtriennale) and Ong Keng Sen (former Singapore International Festival)
Throughout the block there are several public presentations. The curator’s seminars are open for participants and we will be organising evenings where guests discuss notions of grand or ‘tall’ narratives, the art of queering the myth, and so forth. Come and listen to artists who share how they dismantle, mash up and rewrite myths.