This year’s Malta festival was dominated by the subject of the Spectator - the way we observe the world in theatre, in everyday life and the roles we play ascribed by others. The curator of the Idiom – Lotte van den Berg focused on the spectator-actor-witness relation and features projects which invited the the spectator to open their eyes in a different manner and engage directly into the theatrical situation [read Piotr Dobrowolski’s interview with Lotte van den Berg on teatralny.pl].
Theatre in everyday life
The key events of the The Paradox of the Spectator Idiom were the plays by Lotte van den Berg. “Wasteland” (revisited after many years upon Malta’s special request) transported the spectators gathered on the bank of river Warta into an immersive theatre piece about community, violence and responsibility for the other [go to image gallery]. During her socio-artistic project “Building Conversation”, the Dutch artist invited to an active co-creation of dialogues and transgressing one’s opinions [go to image gallery].
Malta audience also had the opportunity to discover for the first time the work of Julian Hetzl. The two part project “Sculpting Fear” comprised of a street happening during which a group of performers fell to the ground and thus distorted the urban space and provoked passers-by to reactions, as well as a performance staged in CK Zamek which engaged the spectates with its visual intensity and questions about the degree to which we control our own fears and emotions in a world ruled by machines [go to image gallery].
Are you watching or are you playing?
Ant Hampton and Dries Verhoeven, known to the Malta audience from the Asian Investments Idiom, returned to Poznań. The Polish premiere of “The Extra People” by Ant Hampton took place on 26th of June in Collegium Da Vinci. It is a site-specific play, in which the spectators become extras and do what they are told by a remote voice directed individually at them. As Stanisław Godlewski from “Gazeta Wyborcza” put it: “The Extra People is abundant in various paradoxes, but the biggest one is the fact that the role of the spectator and the actor, the performer can be reconciled, in fact – that this reconciliation is necessary in order to have the full aesthetic experiance”.
While Dries Verhoeven’s installation “Ceci n’est pas” set the pulse of the idiom for eight days by confronting the passers by with live images presented in a glass cubicle located on Półwiejska Street. The project touched upon important social issues and inspired the spectators to reflect upon the boarders of one’s sensitivity, acceptance of the other and their story [go to image gallery]. The refections on each rendition of “Ceci n’est pas” were related on Wojciech Wołocznik’s blog.
The play which inaugurated the Idiom and gave rise to much emotion was “Extreme Voices” of the Japanese band Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker. This extreme combination of a crazy party, karaoke and dancing antics constituted a radically critical diagnosis of Japanese pop culture and a test of the limits of actions to which the spectator can be subjected [go to image gallery of the play]. “In all this cacophony, all the half-grotesque, half-carnivalesque atmosphere, there was a certain unspoken overtone of sadness”, wrote Nikodem Karolak on dwutygodnik.com
The performative program of the Idiom was accompanied by film screenings. During an evening with Lotte van den Berg we showed video fragments of her plays “Agoraphobia” and “Stillen” as well as the short film “Exercise in Dying”. Furthermore, the film program composed by the curator also featured works by directors such as Werner Herzog, Michael Haneke, Gus Van Sant and Andriej Tarkowski.