Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Seeking the common principles of performance

Odin Teatret uses its uniqe brand of physical theater to plumb the psychological depths of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales

By Ho Yi  /  STAFF REPORTER

Odin explores the subconscious of Hans Christian Andersen.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ODIN TEATRET

"A circle of artists gathers in a garden in Denmark. It is a bright morning. They wait for a summer night when the setting sun will dance. A friend from another continent is about to join them. With him, dreaming with open eyes, they will depart on a pilgrimage into the regions of Andersen's fairy tales." The beginning of the play Andersen's Dream might give you a hint on what to expect in the latest production by Odin Teatret in Denmark.

As its title implies, the performance creates a meditative realm of fantasy, fairy tales and real-life references to the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen.

Hailed as a theater laboratory by performing artists around the world, the prestigious company will expose Taiwan audience to its distinguished physical methodology through a play inspired by Andersen's diary starting next Wednesday.

Odin Teatret was founded by Eugenio Barba in Oslo in 1964 and has been based in Holstebro, Denmark since 1966. Drifting through Europe in his early days, Barba started the troupe with a group of academic outcasts and settled down at a farm in the once remote village in Denmark. Little did they know that their company would one day become one of the most influential avant-garde troupes in contemporary theater.

A pupil of the Polish master Jerzy Grotowski, whose "poor theater" revolu-tionized the European theater from the 19th century, Barba believes the "presence" of a performer is pivotal to the theater, and rigorous trainings in body movement, vocal expression and even ways of breathing constitute the daily practices of Odin's performers.

The strict and fastidious attitudes toward the performative process make Odin Teatret a less productive troupe than others, as a single production can take years to complete.

In 1979, Barba founded ISTA, the International School of Theater Anthropology, an intercultural network for artists and scholars from different parts of the world to meet, share and exchange their arts through demon-strations and comparative analysis.

Through ISTA, the troupe is able to observe and learn from the traditional performing arts of the East, and extract from them the common principles behind different styles of perfomances.

For those who want to know more about Odin teatret's techniques and philosophy, Barba and troupe veterans Julia Varley and Roberta Carreri will present a lecture, panel discussion and work demonstrations next Thursday and Friday at the Theater Department of Taipei National University of the Arts (國立台北藝術大學). For more information, call (02) 2896 1000x3426.

A forum will also be held by the company on April 1 at the screening room of the National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳). Ticket-holders are welcome to participate. Call (02) 3393 9722 to sign up as seats are limited.

Performance notes:

What: Andersen's Dream by Odin Teatret

Where: National Experimental Theater (國家實驗劇場), 21-1, Zhungshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21-1)

When: March 29 to April 1 at 7:30pm; April 2 at 2:30pm

Tickets: NT$800, through NTCH ticket outlets or at http://www.artsticket.com.tw

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