Whole Theater: This course will view the panorama of Theater Mitu’s core research, training, laboratory, and creation methodologies known as Whole Theater. Taught by the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Rubén Polendo, this time will be spent exploring The Major Keys, the conceptual framework by which the company structures and organizes all aspects of its practice. The course will explore the artist’s relationship to the space between acting and performance, design and installation and multimedia and interactive technology. We will probe and explore varied works, methods, and processes from a range of artists across disciplines and forms. We will examine how theatrical elements within these forms can contribute to an experience at once intensely emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Participants will develop robust research tools with which to investigate work within ritual, pop-culture, visual art, and music – all towards the conceptualization and creation of their own original theatrical works.
Training: Whole Theater
Led by Theater Mitu’s Associate Artistic Director Justin Nestor in collaboration with other Theater Mitu company members, this class will prepare artists to create work that is rigorously and simultaneously visual, aural, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. This course will take the idea of Whole Theater from the theoretical into the intensely physical by focusing on corporeal training and creation tools. Through these sessions participants will develop a deeper understanding of a disciplined artistic process, gather tools for cultivating a broader global awareness, and begin to identify and articulate their personal artistic palette. This class will weave elements from the classical theater and ritual traditions of Japan, India, Bali, Mongolia, Thailand, and Iran into a method of theatrical exploration designed to push artists in new and unexpected directions.
Research: Kalaripayattu (South Indian martial art)
Led by Theater Mitu Resident Artist, Sivakumar Gurukkal, this class explores one of the world’s oldest fighting traditions, Kalaripayattu. Kalaripayattu is a martial art and spiritual practice from 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 mind-body. This class will also introduce Vedic Meditation practices centered on connectivity of 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.
Research: Mohiniattam (South Indian classical dance form)
Led by Theater Mitu Resident Artist, Chechi Swapna Sivakumar, this class explores one of India’s seven classical dance forms. The term “Mohiniattam” comes from the words “mohini” meaning one who enchants onlookers and “aattam” meaning graceful or sensuous body movements. The word “Mohiniattam” literally means “Dance of the Enchantress”. This form engages participants in the codified expressions of Rasas, Bhavas, and Mudras documented in the Natyasastra – the Indian treatise on the performing arts – which will stretch the expressive range of the artist’s body.
Research and Laboratory: The Archive
The capabilities of aggregating massive amounts of data have exploded in the digital age. How artists collect material and access that material for creation becomes key to using the archive in performance. In this class, taught by Associate Artist Denis Butkus, artists will be challenged to identify one’s personal mythology and how it creates an archive, which can be used as a source for the creation of new work. The past becomes present instantaneously when placed in collision with an artist’s personal beliefs and humanity’s catalogue of existence. Both analog and digital means of collection will be used in order to decode performance and see the trace left behind by an artist’s work. The archive will be engaged as an important structure to access and view the past, and provide the artist with a contemporary creation tool.
Laboratory: Performance and Acting
These sessions, led by Theater Mitu Associate Artist Michael Littig, will explore the spectrum between performance and acting. Colliding traditional definitions of acting with innovative ideas of performance, the class will explore the unique moment created between an audience and a live human source. Participants will engage in a rigorous investigation of various elements of the actor’s craft such as organicity, relation, contact, impulse, and intention. Working with action and reaction and interrogating the relationship between process and form, participants will strive towards a deeper understanding of the relationship between movement and action. We will intentionally collide traditional theories of acting from artists like Constantin Stansilavski and Jerzy Grotowski with the theories and performance practices of artists like Robert Wilson and The Wooster Group to deepen our investigation of the unique and diverse role of the human in performance.
Laboratory: Technology as Collaborator
We are in a unique moment in history where the technological tools of our time are no longer exclusively limited to individuals in the tech industry, but are instead accessible to anyone. This, in conjunction with the movement of open-source coding and free online courses and tutorials, provides us with a unique opportunity to integrate these innovative tools into our artistic practice. Technology has always been a part of the theater, from the Ancient Greek’s Deus Ex Machina on through the introduction of incandescent lighting. Technology and theater have always developed together, one informing the other and vice-versa in a feedback loop of innovation. This course will question the role of technology in performance and explore imaginative uses of communication technology in the theater. Through discussions and practical work sessions led by Associate Artistic Director Justin Nestor, participants will engage with these tools as dynamic and responsive collaborators with unexpected and unexplored capabilities.
Laboratory: The Architecture of Movement
Using techniques from dancetheater and the tools of spatial design, this class will interrogate the use of bodies in space. Participants will broaden their individual and collective physical awareness and push the creative limits of their body through extensive choreographic exercises. This work will be partnered with a dynamic investigation of architecture. Led by Theater Mitu Associate Artist Scott Spahr, these sessions will focus on how seemingly static elements of architecture can perform alongside human bodies in a seamless collaboration of movement.
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