Wonderous Stories from Xenophobia to Amazement
Xenophobia is the general fear of anything strange, unusual or rare.
intro “Are you Xenophobic? If yes, raise your hand.” I hesitantly raised my hand with a few more people in the Big Room of the Olde Vechte Foundation. Never would I imagine that the theme of Xenophobia would include and conclude all the emotions, events and interactions of the 15 days of the project. FIRST INTENTIONS: Better stick to them I wanted to create something that would not be offered in a school or a university class. A place where the distinction between being human, expressing yourself and creating art is not clear; where different disciplines could meet and people could feel free to wonder in playing fields unknown to them. COLORS: Vivaldi knows better Four Seasons. Summer storm. Presto. Almost like a deeply ironic joke, it was played at the beginning and the end of the project as a focus; and it is what someone would say an auditory manifestation that incorporated the whole essence of what I went through the project. Actors, directors, dramaturges, visual artists, people interested in dance, theater, video & photographers came to Olde Vechte for this project. I used these labels so many times during the residency. Professionals, not professionals, artists, not artists. What is common in all labels? They are put onto humans. And this is where the games begin…. WORK or PLAY: Games of expectations It’s amazing how much effort I put to build expectations. And then suddenly, I decide to break them and call myself disappointed, disheartened and other beautiful attributes. Then time is for sure not on my side and I even call myself stressed. I start to work repeatedly and I make it harder and harder for myself. Well, work brings back work. When did I start working and stopped playing? 4
CLASH Clash for the things I’ve never put together, for the rules of disciplines I dared to mix, for the cultures of art (and not only) that are built upon strong human beliefs, for the fears I had to take with me. FEAR A part of human nature, basic instincts and everyday reality. I was confronted constantly with what was brought in the room: irony, points of view, 41 people staring at me, expectations and my negative beliefs of “I’m not good enough; I am stupid” Untill the last day I remained in the room. Because I wanted to be there and I wanted to make it. People were also there, entering the room. Physical reality never lies. SUCCESS & ANNIHILATION Then everything slowly comes to an end. And no matter how some people want to ruin their experiences, I want to keep my success of experiencing my vision. An event is an event is an event is an event. And… a result is a result. There is nothing more to it. Though it’s funny how I try to annihilate the results and the successes of my actions. I remember when I first saw the performance on video I burst out: “It works!” Like I didn’t know, or I wasn’t part of the making. DARE Most importantly I forget that I dared. I dared to create what I envisioned. I dared to come closer to what excited & scared me from miles away. Xenophobia has different colors. The spectrum is fascinating. Sometimes I close my eyes and open them again to see that all the fears, tensions and judgments are not really there. I laugh. I made them up! It’s simply a story. For these moments, I choose to be amazed. Andrew Hannes Artistic Director
description of the project We like to believe that Wonderous Stories was born in the complex and dynamic European context in which we live in today. But the truth is that it was born in the attic of what we call the Small House. We started from the general fear of anything strange, unusual or rare. And we called it Xenophobia. In a constantly changing society, shaped by perceptions built by media or one-to-one interaction, one has a specific moment of decision: to be afraid or to be amazed. Or anything in between. We all experience it one way or another. We all have stories about it. The energy is already there, so we created a project that should not fight xenophobia, but rather bring a new perspective upon it: from xenophobia to amazement. And since it was a matter of perspective, we decided to challenge it through art. Performance art. And add personal stories to it, in order to make it authentic. We documented everything. We divided the project in three phases: an online preparation, a 15 days residency in the Netherlands and a follow-up taking place in other European countries. Doing it alone was one-dimensional (which is a formal way of saying that it was boring); so we contacted organizations from all over Europe. With some we had worked with before. Others had the courage to join without knowing us. Together with them we invited 40 young people from Slovakia, Greece, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Ireland, France and the Netherlands with a background in performance arts and media to share their stories, live together, work together and face together an audience. Without meeting the expectations of that audience, but rather giving it the opportunity to choose a reaction to whatever was to happen on stage. Two performances, one in Ommen and one in Amsterdam were presented as work in progress after not even two weeks. People went back home, they worked on their own performances, developing concepts from the residency. They filmed it and sent it back to us. We gathered footage from the whole project and we compiled a DVD, that befriends this catalogue. And if you are now holding it in your hands, it means we made it through the follow up of the project. This catalogue is not a description of what happened. It has been designed in order to give you, the viewer, an impression or a feeling of the atmosphere of Wonderous Stories. You may like it or not; our advice is once you have reached its end to take a moment to reflect and ask yourself: IS IT? Elena Tudorache
Submerge to go under as if underwater 9
Transcript no.1 E.T: So how did you imagine Wonderous Stories before actually starting it? A.H: I imagined a space where creativity is not determined by means; where anyone could move from dancing to filming to drawing to singing and so on. At the beginning I wanted the research days to be experimental, theatrical and with processes that demanded a personal involvement. This happened of course! E.T: What was Xenophobia for you? A.H: I had a very narrow idea of what Xenophobia is. My concept was limited to ethnicity. In the definition we used during Wonderous Stories I find impressive the fact that itâ€™s going directly to a human, universal level, rather than a cultural one. We all have fears, especially when it comes to something totally new. This new Xenophobia, touches me in my deepest levels of understanding my nature and interaction with other human beings. It includes my personal experiences of a lifetime. What was it for you? E.T: I guess Xenophobia comes from clashes and it cuddles in the gaps created. I think we found a good definition for it, so that it could fit us all in. What were your first impressions when meeting the participants? A.H: First impressions were fascinating. At the beginning, I didnâ€™t care where people come from or if they are professional or not. In the long run, this changed. I personally gave in to the demand of making separations, distinctions and categorizations. Now I find my reaction a reflection point. I identify for myself and the artists who were involved in the project that there is a need for significance. This need brings a certain mood and behaviour that can be destructive a lot of times in the context of a group working together. At the end of the project, the amount of work and individual effort was simply overwhelming. The talent in the Big Room was as big as the egos. Wonderous Stories is an on-going learning opportunity and achievement. It took me time to digest the complexity of the performance of the participants. And I appreciate this because it gives me space to see something new every time.
First impressions “Quiet people. Smiling all the time for nothing, very polite, still and plastic. Of course, when meeting someone new, we tend to act not so natural, so we try to find the right attitude to be pleasant. It’s in the nature of human beings. During the residency, these things changed. We proved to be humans with flesh and bones, soul and brain, able to communicate frankly, without any constraints.” <Alina Rotaru >
“One day here feels like three days. Our schedules are very busy with most hours in the day filled up with activities and workshops. It’s exhausting, but it’s also incredible.” <Fionnuala Gygax>
“From the first day when I arrived in Olde Vechte I found myself fighting my fears. I had no personal space anymore, since I was living with three more people in the room. In the third day I had my last panic attack for almost 6 months now. I don’t think that I’m going to have another one any time soon. The support was there all time. The only thing I had to do was ASK for it.”
“I liked or disliked certain people immediately. In the beginning we were just a group of people, we didn’t know each other and what we do. So we were just a group and towards the end it was like an explosion, because we did many processes together and we knew the talents of each other and we knew the annoying things about each other also.” <Liudmyla Derkach>
Afraid of the unknown? Imagine the same thing happening every day, all day.
“We are very judgmental. We judge people even if we don’t know them. You are judging me right now. You know. You hate me. Because I’m beautiful. But you judge me. And it’s the general feeling. And it’s FEAR. That’s right. You fear what you don’t know.” Danni Ionescu
Then, waking up early in the morning after sleeping just a little in the night was also repeating and exhausting. But that proved we were working for ourselves.
The â€œ"I"â€? statement!
I was working for myself. Again, something to be repeated: assuming the thoughts and experiences for yourself, not in the name of other people. Alina Rotaru
think a bit about it
Transcript no.2 E.T: What were your thoughts during the production days? A.H: The production days were a turning point for me and the whole group. Close to the end of the production days we had the first presentations of what the groups had created. We also invited experts from outside to feedback us and support us with suggestions. There were groups that didn’t present anything. This made me take the decision to enter the Big Room with everyone, close the door and start working on each piece and the coherence of the whole, one day before the preview performance in Ommen. E.T: So you switched. What other switch moments did you have? A.H: After the first performance in Ommen, I found myself in a dead end street. By taking over in the last production day, I was suddenly using a methodology I didn’t use before and that brought a lot of emotions to the group and to me. What was visible was the confusion in the creation process. I didn’t know how to continue the next day. What happened the following morning was very inspiring. After a pissed off session, we established a new system to run the creative process and this led us to the performance in Amsterdam. E.T: And what did this bring you? A.H: The whole situation gave me a clear insight on my working style but also on the commitment to the work that we were doing as a group. The question at that point was “What is more important? The process or the result?” I remember that a lot of people were anxious about the quality of the final result, underestimating the experience of the process. E.T: What annoyed you during those two weeks? A.H: The argument that some people have 20 years of professional experience when they are only 24 years old.
"So what is happening is that all of a sudden we are performing in a church!" Andrew Hannes
...and of course, who doesn't want to perform in a church...? Fionnuala Gygax
To look is an act of choice.
"There is something really about
both watching and
taking part in it. When people let themselves really feel the music or the
they forget everything else
around them and that's beautiful
The production itself was bizarre, like nothing I had seen or been involved in before. The more I saw of it, the more I enjoyed it. I won't lie and say it was the greatest piece ever created, but I think it was a good showcase and representation of us as a group and all the hard work people had done for the last weeks. For that reason it was really
Bizarre Strikingly unconventional and far-fetched in style or appearance Antonyms: realistic, reasonable.
A.H: How was it for you to work with people coming from different artistic and cultural backgrounds? E.T: Bizarre, challenging, joyful, surprising, awkward at times, I could rarely find my place. But this kind of experiences are the most insightful, because they challenge the very basics of your being. It’s this type of situations that really give you the opportunity to question and get to know yourself – they smack you in the face when you least expect it and they show you that there are other ways for things to be done, very differently from yours, but perhaps just as good. A.H: How did you feel during the performance? E.T: I was nervous, because the performance was changed one day before, it was rearranged and we only had time for one rehearsal in Amsterdam. No one actually knew how it will start because it was improvised. I had no clue how it will end, I never heard the outro. But it came together somehow. You could actually see the whole residency in the performance. It was work in progress, very raw, very experimental and very confronting. And that actually made it very special. And the reaction of the audience was for me a confirmation. Don’t you think? How did you feel? A.H: I was anxious for the response of the audience, of course. I knew that visually we were strong. The concept in my eyes came and was introduced through the final performance. I’m satisfied that we decided to offer to the audience the opportunity to choose their own response to the collection of events happening on stage. I find it fair, stimulating and in line with the subject that we were researching: Xenophobia. E.T: Are you proud? A.H: I’m proud of every single person that was on stage or backstage. I could simply sit in my seat and enjoy or worry about the reactions of the audience. I remember that someone stood up and left. I found it inspiring. At the end of the night, I was surprised by the people’s reaction to what we presented. What impressed me the most was the fact that they shared insights that were created from a specific act and evolved through the whole performance. E.T: Was it ART? A.H: For me it was art, without question. It only takes to accept that the process of making is different than the one of an art school or a country’s traditional art making. I am aware that work in progress comes in a peculiar form on stage, but this is what I personally find admirable and courageous. 39
I choose to keep images from the
idea to a performance. images like the Madonna act
Strong or the Judgment duo, the Confession Group and the Ropes Ensemble. I want to keep quotes like: “<It's
hard to work with people>” or “
<I'm done with this performance!>” that gave me clear examples of the difference between words and actions. Andrew Hannes
Transcript no.4 E.T: I have a feeling you would like to say thank you. Do you? A.H: Yes. I specifically want to mention here the support I have received from the invited trainers of the event, Kriszta Zsiday and Sofia Moudiou, who were ready to assist me and offer their expertise. I value their friendship and care. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, my friend and co-worker, Elena Tudorache, the artistic producer of Small House Productions and the Wonderous Stories project, for being there for me at all times with her wisdom and love. Her strong vision of the project brought quality and trust to our work. This project wouldnâ€™t be the same without her input, passion and loyalty. Furthermore, I wouldnâ€™t be able to make it without the strong encouragement and coaching of Marco Vlaming, the director of the Olde Vechte Foundation, who was there from the first day. I would also like to thank the partner organizations for jumping on board and assisting the implementation of the project, although most of them never worked with us before. Maria, Sasa, Lavinia, Cristina, Gabi, Eszther, Anita, Alex and Damien, thank you! It was a pleasure to collaborate with the dance company Random Collision from Groningen, and especially the choreographer and dancer Jasmine Ellis and the dramaturge and director of the company, Kirsten Krans, who brought energy and pure care to the project. But most importantly, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the project for their trust and their commitment that I am not taking for granted. I appreciate the willingness and the uniqueness that they brought in the project. For me, you opened doors and new horizons. Thank you. 42
outro J.Q: I love my dog so much that sometimes I think it’s a bit weird maybe.
A.S: I am very bad at mingling and I wish I had a sister. P.T: Hi, I’m Pheebe and I do have a sister. And as a kid I used to fantasize about her boyfriend.
J.Q: Guys who wear tank tops look gay.
P.T: I love the feeling of sand between my toes. It reminds me of holiday in France with my parents..
S.C: My mother never finishes her sentences, so I never know the end of the story.
A.S: I still don’t know if my
A.S: One thing that you should know about me is that I… I am Romanian.
D.K: I can’t sleep alone.
L.L.G: I want to drink a beer.
P.T: But I see you thinking. You think : “Her breasts are too small”. J.Q: Your breasts are too small?
S.C: My sister would prefer to hang me than to say “I love you”
B.K: I am from Hungary, I don’t speak English.
L.D: I don’t want to confess anything. 45
J.Q: I love you!
J.Q: Some father loves me or not. But I people will always say I love you to believe in God, I my children. S.C: I feel naked when I try to be honest. hacked J.Q: I didn’t trust any Romanian people before I started doing this into my P.T: I still cry in the scene where exes the mother of Bambi is shot. project because all of the Romanians in Ireland are gypsies. I now emails. joke about this with my Romanian friends.
J.Q: I stood there and I looked at you and I watched as you lied. I pretended I didn’t know you were lying. But I knew.
A.C: I hate my father.
Athanasios Chalastras Sarah Chauvel Vasileios Dendrinos Liudmyla Derkach Iliasse El Abouyi Eszter Farkas Edvinas Grinkevicius Fionnuala Gygax Meadhbh Haiceid Daniel Ionescu Oana Maria Ionescu Teodora Ionescu Aneta Juříková Lenka Koprajdova Despoina Kopsacheili Ilias Kourtoudis Vaiva Kovieraitė Barbara Krima Laura Le Guen Greta Liekytė Donara Manukian
Emese Muri Ferenc Nagy Stefan Pavel Joanne Quinn Alina Laura Rotaru Eglė Tamulytė Phebe Tempelaars
Andrew Hannes Artistic Producer
Elena Tudorache Trainers Sofia Moudiou Kriszta Zsiday Coaching
Marco Vlaming Project supervisors Cristina Kovacs Gabriel Zapodeanu Project Team Alexandru Nagy Eszter Nemethi Marija Nobilisova Anita Papp Saskia Racz Damien Roty Lavinia Vaduva Outside experts Jasmine Ellis Kirsten Krans
team & organizers
credits Cover page: Logo design by Agnes Jekli, Sara Ulrich & Elena Tudorache p.2: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.7: Drawing by Vaiva Kovieraite p8: Photo by Barbara Krima p.10: Text by Elena Tudorache & Andrew Hannes p.11: Photo by Edvinas Grinkevicius p.12-13: Collage by Greg Michailidis p.15: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.17: Drawing by Vaiva Kovieraite p.18: Drawing by Vaiva Kovieraite p.19: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.21: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.22: Drawing by Elena Tudorache p.23: Text by Elena Tudorache and Andrew Hannes p.24:Photos by Greta Alice Liekytė p.26-27: Photos by Greta Alice Liekytė p.29: Drawing by Donara Manukian p.30: Poster design by Elena Tudorache p.31: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.32: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.35: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.36-37: Collage by Greg Michailidis p.38: Photo by Edvinas Grinkevicius p.39: Text by Elena Tudorache & Andrew Hannes P.40: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.42: Text by Elena Tudorache & Andrew Hannes p.43: Photo by Elena Tudorache p.44: Photo by Greta Alice Liekytė p.45: Confessions text by: Sarah Chauvel, Joanne Quinn, Alina Rotaru, Phebe Tempelaars, Athanasios Chalastras, Despoina Kopsacheili, Liudmyla Derkach, Laura Le Guen, Barbara Krima p.46-47: Photos and collage by Greta Alice Liekytė
concept & design Editing, concept and design review: Elena Tudorache <Small House Productions> Publication design & concept: Greg Michailidis <Rabbit Knows> Publication review: Andrew Hannes <Small House Productions>
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"Amazement awaits us at every corner" James Broughton
We like to believe that Wonderous Stories was born in the complex and dynamic European context in which we live in today. But the truth is t...