09
May
16

Anywhere Festival plays host to Australia’s first BioDrama – La Andariega: Ancient Memories

 

MARACCAS

(Mobile Active Recreation and Creative Community Art Space)

Preparing for La Andariega: Ancient Memories

from notes taken during #biodramadharma day3: archetypes

by Xanthe Coward

Saturday May 7 2016

La ANDARIEGA-Anywhere Festival-Masked Man with Rose-Photo by David Leonardo Caycedo Jimenez

 

Everything that happens around us is absolutely connected to how we engage in our artistic and everyday life.

– Beatriz Camargo, Teatro Itinerante del sol

 

The experience of an event begins for its audience when they first hear about it and only finishes when they stop thinking and talking about it.

– Tassos Stevens

 

La ANDARIEGA-Anywhere Festival-Ensemble Looking Out- Photo by David Leonardo Caycedo Jimenez

 

Through our travels in the dreaming world we come to know the ancient wisdom and memories of our ancestors, land and peoples; weaving whispers through symbols of time untold coming to recognise the ancient wisdom and connection in all beings, all lands, and all cultures.

 

Working with Lyndon Davies and the local Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) mob to develop the play’ script inspired by the traditional song lines and stories of the Sunshine Coast area. Presented at the Old Ambulance Station’s Black Box Theatre in Nambour, the work is an investigation of Ancient Memory and Origin Myths in the innovative contemporary form of theatre called Bio Drama – Bio Dharma.

As an interesting cross-cultural exchange generated from MARACCAS’ recent collaborative theatre work in South America. The Bio Drama style is inspired by the indigenous cultures of Colombia and the Amazon – pioneered by renowned artist Beatriz Camargo;

“The style is the first approach to the vision that integrates through the performing arts, all arts and knowledge with nature. The focus is to find again the balance between human beings and the planet. This theatre leads practitioners and audiences to ancient mythologies which connect body, soul, voice, territory, dramaturgy, staging and performance. It establishes a creative relationship between contemporary art and ancient roots.”

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In the centre of a faded rug are two brass Tibetan singing bowls and a candle. Later, Lilly adds a bowl of nuts and seeds to this centrepiece, to nourish both the spiritual and the physical. When my eyes adjust to the dim light I see that beneath the rug, the space is a raked stage of artificial grass. The slope must be an old driveway-turned-loading bay. We’re in Nambour’s Old Ambulance Station, home to the Black Box Theatre, a humble cafe called Coolihawk, and a ramshackle vintage clothing store. I didn’t know these little businesses existed. I haven’t been here for years.

I’m here for mostly selfish reasons, with the intention of gaining insight into the creative process and responding to it before I review the show that is the culmination of the work here – La Andariega: Ancient Memories, part of Anywhere Festival 2016. It’s the only show during this year’s Anywhere Festival I’ll get to see, so I thought the experience would be far more enriching by sitting in on a couple of the sessions prior. So I invited myself along to check it out. And thought I should probably share that. Importantly, I was invited to join the sacred circle and participate in the discussions, as opposed to sitting invisibly in the corner and observing. 

It’s something I’d like to do more of (not participate necessarily, but observe and absorb what’s happening in the rehearsal room); I think there’s enormous value in sharing a glimpse of the show and the people putting it together before the show goes up, rather than simply rushing to respond to it after Opening Night. It’s not even a “finished product” at that point, and continues to evolve throughout the season. Much Ado About Nothing is a good example. Apparently, so I’ve been told, some performers were not as convincing on opening night as during the first Saturday night’s performance, by which time said performers had hit their stride. (We already know there is merit in a mid-season review). Anyway, there are certainly some more interesting ways of attracting the attention of potential audiences than we are seeing, and one of these approaches is to reveal a little more than a simple pull quote or interview can do. We also get a record of parts of the process; a glimpse at the way in which other artists create new work, and a glimpse, as artists, at the way in which another artist perceives our work and our approach to it.

London theatre critic, Andrew Haydon, goes to some lengths to discuss this style of behind-the-scenes “embedded” reviewing here (thanks to Jane Howard for the link).

The idea of “embedded critics” seems to have gained something of a momentum recently. Perhaps the most interesting session (to me) at this year’s Devoted and Disgruntled was the one called by Maddy Costa and Jake Orr on this very subject. Their basic question was: “What new dialogue can we set up between people who write about theatre and people who make it?” with the sub-question “Do we want to maintain a distance between the people who write about theatre and the people who make it?” (full report here).

And it is an interesting position for “a critic” to find themselves in. Indeed, the question of “embeddedness” is one that goes to the very heart of what we think a critic is *for*. Or what a critic’s job is/should be.

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From the Howard Street cafe entrance I don’t know which part of the building to start to move towards so I ask the barista where I’ll find the BioDrama Dharma group. He looks at me blankly for a second and says, “Oh, you mean the actors?” and directs me towards a gap between a wall and a panel leading to an empty room with a black curtain at one end. I think I expected to see people (and I think I expected to know people) hanging about on the street outside in the sunshine, with their coffee and cigarettes before I would have to ask anyone for actual directions. Clearly, the Sunshine Coast theatre crowd is evolving…

In fact, this is an entirely new crowd, although a couple of us discover we have mutual friends at Woodford Folk Festival. Of course! They are Puppet Project people. I introduce myself to a couple of the others at the bottom of a flight of narrow stairs. Nobody is surprised that I’m there. I discover later that new people come every day and maybe stay for just 1 or 2 or 3 or 5 days of the 17-day intensive program. (I think this is brilliant and so many more courses could consider offering short package deals).

I have time to wait for a real barista brewed chai and I chat with him about their tea selection, which comes from Mt Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland. When I return to the space with my chai everyone is there. Placed randomly are several mismatched cushions and occupying the cushions are the participants (six for today’s sessions) and the facilitators, Jonas Teixeira and Lillian Shewring.

The Intensive began on Thursday and since then Jonas and Lilly have given everyone homework tasks in preparation for the weekend’s work around archetypes and symbols. Participants were asked to consider their fears, and the fears and symbols that might be coming up in their dreams. The morning session will cover archetypes, dreams and shadows. The afternoon session builds on the notion of our fears and shadows, giving participants the opportunity to explore Lynne Bradley’s highly physical approach to making meaning in performance: Zen Zen Zo’s highly regarded Suzuki training for actors. I’ll miss this workshop (and the invaluable insights that come up in the conversations over lunch), but I hope I’ll be welcomed back next week to catch up on the development of (character) bodies and voices…

We introduce ourselves by way of offering a sacred name. Jonas explains that this name is something that we choose; it just comes to each of us, triggering ancient memory and the fire burning within us. Fantastic! I love Olga’s sacred name – Creatura – because it’s the powerful name that comes up so often in the stories and myths shared by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes. You might already know that I’m completely obsessed with her teachings so everything Jonas and Lilly talk about in this context sounds familiar. An eagle comes soaring across the farthest reaches of my mind so I trust the image and offer to the group, “Eagle”, with the disclaimer that it will sound better in Spanish. It does. I repeat, “águila”. The cultural exchange is underway.

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We each choose a tarot card, which may offer guidance or insight before we begin the work. I pull the Ace of Cups: water, emotions, our senses, a divine gift; either I have a gift or I will receive a gift.  I’m astonished to hear that Lilly drew on the back of each card in her deck before turning the cards over to see whether or not her symbols matched up. Her markings are surprisingly accurate.

Jonas notes that it’s interesting that Lilly uses tarot as a strategy, and as connection to the source, and goes on to explain that we are working towards recognising the subconscious through the conscious, drawing spontaneously in the present from symbols in the past. I love this.

Jonas has drawn the Devil and Lilly reminds us that the Devil is a warning card…don’t let your base desires lead you away from your true self. Remember to come back to your authentic self. We’re able to free ourselves.

When you bring the devil to the real world you can’t hide it with the angel.

– Jonas Texeira

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Olga shares her moon cycle wheel, which has on it her original symbols to record emotions, creativity, sexuality, health and dreams (and so much more; there are many, many symbols!). She explains that it’s about recognising patterns and preparing herself for her highs and lows, and having a choice, letting go of attachment and judgment. The tangible book and the colours are with Olga always. She trusts us to look closely at it and confides, “I remember my dreams. I write them in the back of the book.”

Jonas talk about the notion of mapping as storytelling and the tradition of choosing totems. Lyndon Davis and Kerry had touched on this, when they stopped by on Day 2 to introduce some of the aspects of the local Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) culture into the creative development process.

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We talk about the symbolism of dance. (And I think about the enduring power of dance, the arts, to transform a person). Denise tells us she was “super, super, super shy as a child. I had a pain and would not tell the teacher…so shy, and then I danced…”

In BioDrama we practice detachment, from the physical and material world, from attachments, from judgment.

The discussion around archetypes and symbols begins with a brief overview of Carl Jung’s practice and the terminology associated with his physiological process of integrating opposites (the conscious and unconscious) towards achieving individualisation. We talk about the common symbols – circles, the sun, the cross, the lotus – that trigger the collective unconscious. 

In the same way the circle is empty, it’s filled.

– Jonas Texeira

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Jonas talks about the introvert and the extravert, and I consider, once again, Susan Cain’s Quiet, a book that I wish she had written a decade earlier; it validated my mixed feelings since childhood of wanting to be involved in social occasions whilst craving solitude, space and quiet. At times, this is why I run away immediately after seeing a show, although the more sensitive of the Brisbane artists have told me they thought it was because I didn’t love the show. At times this is also true.

Our message – our mission – is to empower your identity, shaped by stories, for an audience.

– Jonas Texeira

In BioDrama our mission is to discover ourselves. When we discover our archetype we collect messages to make meaning of a main message. We are those archetypes, and in performance we can shape an archetype or discover another. The symbols used are connected to our surroundings. We each read in our own way the symbols applied in performance.

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During the morning, Jonas had observed Denise dancing. He described his own interpretation of her movement: her arms reaching out, sweeping, one then the other to embrace the earth, outstretched and moving back again to enclose her arms around herself, a “hug for yourself”, lowering slowly – so slowly, controlled – to the floor, taking a moment in that state of awareness before rising and moving into the next part of the sequence. 

In the recognition of individual identities and in the process of forming a group identity, further motifs were explored and combined to create a group sequence. The movements stemmed from the images and impulses inspired by “fluid liberation of life” – the group goal/intention, which came from individual goals (one sentence), combined sentences in pairs, and choreography (movement) devised by the pair to represent the essence/energy of the sentence. The group sentence conveys the sense of every individual’s original goal/intention/sentence.

Olga notes that in devising and repeating this sequence with a partner, one performer became the giver and one performer became the receiver. “It was really rich”.

FLUID LIBERATION OF LIFE. How good is that?!

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The Intensive continues over the next week, culminating in a unique performance La Andariega: Ancient Memories on Friday May 20 and Saturday May 21 at 7:30pm at Nambour’s Old Ambulance Station. You’d be crazy – or lazy – to miss this sensational Australian first, happening right here on the Sunshine Coast. Book here

MARACCAS Ngo is an emerging Social Enterprise and International Community Arts NGO based in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast – Running annual South American theatre and arts exchange programs as well as other productions in Australia. Their next cultural-exchange is happening in July during the annual international Bio Drama School in Colombia.

 

For the theatre is not only spectaculars…

for the theatre is not only technical…

for the theatre is not only ego…

– Ruth (Argentina)

 

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