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" The Smile of Power"
10 days

Johan Simons, Director, Amsterdam Founder and director of the internationally acclaimed "Theatergroep Hollandia". He directs plays by contemporary writers like Heiner Müller, Herbert Achternbusch and Tankred Dorst, Greek tragedies by Aischylos and Euripides, as well as processing interviews, lectures and newspaper articles into plays. Contradictory relations such as nature vs. civilisation and periphery vs. centre are often the subject of his work.

His group is renowned for their site specific projects: text-based theatre in factories, locks and greenhouses. Johan Simons 'course is closely linked to Zwei Stimmen, which is the opening performance of the Academy: five portraits of contemporary leaders by Pasolini are combined with a text of a sixth leader: the chairman of the board of Shell, Cor Herkströter, who reflects on the moral dilemmas and social responsibility of multinational companies. The text of this 'character' has been derived from speeches and articles by the Shell director. Simons wants to work with the same theme as the performance: the moral of power. The students are asked to bring speeches or texts by political leaders, managers or other men or women in positions of power from their country. The theatricality of these texts will be examined and they will look for sites in the surroundings of Bochum, both contrary and supplementary to their texts, where their specific text can be performed.

"The world can be quite an unpleasant institution "
17 days

Tamás Ascher, Director, Kaposvár He was trained at Budapest's Theatre Academy. Since 1975 he has worked at the Csiky Gergely Theatre, where he is Artistic Director. He directs classical and contemporary plays, music theatre and opera. Since 1983 he has been working regularly at the famous Katona Joszef Theatre (Artistic Director: Gábor Zsámbéki) as well as abroad, e.g. in Lyon, Helsinki and at the Akademietheater in Vienna.

Tamás Ascher's productions have been seen at numerous international festivals. Ascher is a mentor and person of reference for Hungary's younger generation of theatre professionals. He teaches at the Budapest Theatre Academy and each year meets up in the country for a summer-month of intensive work with a group of young theatre people and those who are aspiring to become just that. "A play is like raw material for the inspiration, something completely new may be developed. I am attracted by the grotesque side of both the classics and the modern classics: how do we today, fitted out as we are with nerves that may fit, be too small or even too large for us, play the old conflicts?

During a short and intensive period of course work with young actors, I begin by reading and analysing the scenes. Then through acting and improvisation, we break away from the context, the time and location of the play and start to invent new situations. Continuing the play in the imagination, spinning threads into the present, inventing new scenes - these are ways of expanding the spectrum of methods with which a play is worked on. Thus, a new play emerges, more substantial and rich in associations than the original. And of course one needs a view of the world. Each new scene which is developed represents a statement about the world. Without ruthless self-knowledge, no clear picture of a given scene can be achieved. In this process, the development of acting skills is a rather incidental result."