International Intensives

WHAT IS YOUR MYTHOLOGY?
HOW DOES IT ENCOUNTER THE REALITY OF THE WORLD?
HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THESE TWO BY WAY OF YOUR ART?

These are the questions that will propel and shape this three-week intensive.  Theater Mitu will bring together a group of international participants, American teaching artists and Indian Masters combining rigorous physical training with intellectual investigation to help develop a deep understanding of a disciplined artistic process in a larger world context with a sense of personal vision.

In the West, the artist’s personal mythology is often overlooked in an attempt to focus on technique, achievement and success. But the question remains, what propels the artist? What is his/her belief system? What stories have formed who they are and what work they create? We believe the answers to these questions can only be discovered when the artist is asked to forget everything they think they know and in so doing, explore themselves outside of a context that is familiar; artistically, philosophically, aesthetically and geographically. It is this belief that began the conversation with international artists from a myriad of traditions and disciplines to create these dynamic training programs.

The details of the program changes from year to year but most often happen in the months of June, July, or August.  Exact details of the program (including tuition, dates, location, etc) go out in January with an application deadline usually falling somewhere in late March or early April. The program has been hosted in both Thailand and India and along with the classes and training (listed below) participants engage in immersion trips as well as local performance opportunities and collaborations with guest artists.

SOUTH INDIA ARTIST INTENSIVE:
Kalaripayattu (South Indian martial art): One of the world’s oldest fighting traditions, Kalaripayattu is a martial art and spiritual practice with origins in India’s southern state of Kerala. It incorporates strikes, kicks, grappling, choreographed sequences, and extensive weaponry, as well as integrated healing techniques. Nearly every South Indian performance tradition trains their pupils in Kalaripayattu as a foundation for a strong, flexible and awake body. A Malayalam expression often applied to Kalaripayattu is “meyyu kanakkuka”, meaning “the body becomes all eyes”.
Mohiniattam (South Indian classical dance form): A traditional South Indian dance form from Kerala, this elegant dance is most often meant to be performed as a solo recital by women. The term “Mohiniattam” comes from the words “mohini” meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and “aattam” meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word “Mohiniattam” literally means “Dance of the Enchantress”.
Kathakali (South Indian classical dance drama): Kathakali, deriving from the words “katha” (meaning story) and “kali” (meaning play), is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama. This classical Keralan art form employs make-up, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures, and well-defined body movements that are accompanied by music and percussion to present the stories of the greatest Hindu epics. A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for this demanding art form. Actors never speak, enacting their story purely through the movement of hands (mudras), facial expressions (rasas), and bodily movements.
Carnatic Music (South Indian classical singing): Thousands of years old, this musical tradition, originally documented in the Natyasastra and featured in the Indian epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana is focused on the versatility of the human voice. Through the practical study of ragas (melodic formulas) and talas (rhythmic cycles) participants will use their voices to explore the new musical ideas and philosophies. Documented in vedic texts as a vehicle to enlightenment this disciplined practice will allow students to approach singing, rhythms and music in new ways.
Yoga/Meditation: Each morning will begin with rigorous sessions of Theravedic Meditation centering and connecting the body, mind and spirit. These sessions will create a space for systematic self-exploration and provide the in-depth focus required for the day’s work. The goal of these meditations will be to develop a conscious exploration of the self, it’s functions and the tools with which to work with its ever illusive focus.
Cultural Context: This class will provide and facilitate a deep cultural and historic context of South India. This class will focus on the local language as well as customs and traditions of the region allowing all participants to engage with our host country in a way that is open and fearless. The class will also consist of continuous outings and trips to further this context.

BANGKOK ARTIST INTENSIVE:
Thai Khon (Traditional Thai Masked Dance Theater): This is an incredibly challenging, stylized, acrobatic dancetheater form. Traditionally performed for the royal court, this masked dance drama is accompanied by live narrators and a traditional piphat ensemble (traditional group of percussion and wind instruments). It requires great physical trust, precision and endurance. Most performers specialize in a single role for an entire lifetime.
Thai Classical Dance: The traditional forms as passed down for generations will be taught by one of Thailand’s most renowned masters. This astounding dance is accessible to modern performers and audiences while retaining its purity, giving a strong base of precision, specificity, discipline, grace and clarity of movement. The history and philosophy of the form are an integral part of the training.
Klong Sabat Chai (Thai War Drums): Live music is an integral part of storytelling in the Thai theatrical tradition. Thai Drumming is as much a dance as it is a music performance. By engaging with these extremely large drums, participants gain an intensely physical understanding of counterpoint, rhythm, unity, tempo, overall arc and structure of a performance as well as an appreciation of Thai classical music and its relevance to contemporary performance.
Krabi Krabong (Thai Sword Fighting): This ancient method of fighting combines both weapons and empty hand techniques. This classical method of combat is now, due to its remarkable strength and grace, used in performance throughout the country.
Muay Thai (Thai martial art): Muay Thai is one of the most intense martial arts forms, both physically and mentally. Intensely rhythmic and dynamic, Muay Thai engages in both the physical and philosophical aspects of violence within a vehemently non-violent culture.
Cultural Context: This class will provide and facilitate a deep cultural and historical context of Thailand and Bangkok. This class will focus on Thai language, customs and traditions, allowing all participants to engage with our host country in a way that is open and fearless. The class will also consist of continuous outings and trips to further this context.
Yoga/Meditation: Every workday starts with a rigorous session of Kundalini and Ashtanga Yoga, preparing the body, mind, and spirit.
Butoh: Born out of a need to explore the obscured mythology within the artist, this rigorous form of Japanese physical-theater is an intensive exploration of creation, destruction and growth. This class will give the artist historical and cultural context for Butoh and its roots as well as vast practical experience in the creation and exploration of the form.
Theravada Buddhism: Thailand is a Buddhist land, and the religion is deeply instilled in every element of the culture. To understand the people, customs, and way of life, it is vital to gain at least a rudimentary understanding of this philosophy. Monks from Wat Po (one of the main Buddhist Temples in Bangkok) visit the Theater to discuss Theravada Buddhism. Participants will learn about various traditions and ritual within the Buddhist context.

THEATER MITU CLASSES (included in all Artist Intensives):
Theater Mitu Whole Theater Workshops: How does an artist prepare to create work that is rigorously visual, aural, emotional, intellectual and spiritual? This is the core mission of Theater Mitu’s Whole Theater training. Led by various company members, this advanced class weaves elements from the classical theater and ritual traditions of Japan, India, Bali, Iran, China, and Mexico into a method of theatrical exploration designed to push western artists in new and unexpected directions. This class further deepens the conversation of culture and performance by engaging the artist in a world conversation while reconciling the relationship between east and west. Focusing on intense physicality, full-bodied vocalization, live music, and powerful tools for connecting theatrical creation and ritual, this class seeks to engage artists in the discipline and rigor of creating theatrically impactful work by exploring Theater Mitu’s rigorous training methodology knows as the Major Steps of Whole Theater.
Theater Mitu Physical Theater Creation: Led by various Theater Mitu company members, this class with further the conversation of Whole Theater by dissecting it within the perspective of Dance-theater, choreography and compositional theory. Taking the idea of Whole Theater from the theoretical to the practical and focusing on useful tools for creation, performance and aesthetics.

ADDITIONAL CLASSES HAVE INCLUDED:
Dramaturgy: This class will engage in the texture of theater work using formal tools and vocabulary generated by the history of art and performance, together with our interactions with daily life in our host country. Our meetings will explore the architecture of idea and the means by which it is influence by visual images, juxtaposition (combination, concurrence, conflict), alignment (resonance, recurrence, reduction), and modality in both traditional and devised texts. We will consider the process of making theater/performance within the boundary of what Eugenio Barba calls “the dance of thought in action”, and dramaturgy as a tool to explore what David Williams calls the “tensions between structure and possibility.”

Embodied Text and Musicality: This class is an investigation of personal and collective creative sources; awakening musicality and text in the actor by way of visceral research of rhythm, sounding and songs, words and text, physicality, physical impulses and the devising process. The body is the gateway to the actor’s craft and all creative sources, and from the body we begin our investigation of musicality, text and song through a series of dynamic exercises and improvisations designed to awaken a deep sense of listening and responsiveness to impulses that arise within one’s own body and from the ensemble.

For more detailed information, please contact education@theatermitu.org.

Theater Mitu