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"The director should be invisible"
9 days

Rubén Szuchmacher, Director and Actor, Buenos Aires
The director Rubén Szuchmacher has his roots in music. He learned to play the piano, then studied dance and choreography. The venues for his theatre, opera, dance- and music-theatre-productions range from great operas to public libraries. With his own company, he has staged Steven Berkoff, Harold Pinter and, most recently, Garcia Lorca's Don Perlimplin, to be seen in June 1999 at the festival "Theater der Welt" in Berlin. He teaches directing at the Centro Cultural of the University of Buenos Aires.

"I don't want to be on stage. It is the material that speaks. The text in conjunction with the situation, everything together: the actors, this specific space. All this is material. Not only the text, but all conditions of a piece of work. I build my working hypothesis from this and in rehearsal one sees whether it works or not. I see the world as a musical instrument. Sounds are more important to me, even words stem from sound. And then I try to find a body for this sound. That makes every piece different. I have everything at my disposal: music, dance, painting. In that sense I am a post-modern director, not by way of ideology, but practically: a practising post-modernist."

The workshop consists of work in progress for the production of small format plays of short duration, no longer than 30 minutes, few characters and simple scenery. The participants are asked to bring plays with this characteristics from their countries of origin. Szuchmacher will, in turn, provide a series of Argentinian plays with these characteristics.

"Directing is a job for cowards, for little Napoleons"
14 days

Jan Ritsema, Director, Amsterdam
Ritsema has directed plays by Shakespeare, Bernard-Marie Koltès, and, repeatedly, Heiner Müller. He has dramatised stories by James Joyce, Henry James, Virginia Woolf and Rainer Maria Rilke, and he has developed plays in collaboration with his actors. He also works with musicians, dancers and plastic artists. Last year, he unexpectedly turned to dance himself, created his own dance solo and performed in Meg Stuart's choreography Crash Landings. The International Theatre Bookshop, which was founded by him, has published more than 400 books on theatre and art. He teaches at a number of academies in the Netherlands and at PARTS, the international school in Brussels, run by Anne-Teresa de Keersmaekers. Ritsema thrives on complicated philosophical texts. His work on a project always begins with a careful analysis of the text and not so much with psychological attempts at improvisation. In rehearsal, he aims at slowly finding a plethora of associations and possible meanings behind the words. In the rehearsal process, it is not how one says something, or how to do something, which is important, but rather the finding of an attitude, a reason for wanting to play this piece. Theatre happens in that unique moment where thinking and acting coincide.

"Everybody lies very cleverly, everyone is an expert at acting-as-if, even though this should really be the basis of acting. Since everyone knows the game of acting-as-if so well, it would not be very interesting to reproduce it as a form of artistic process on stage. In an insincere society, the theatre as Art of Lying no longer has much to offer. The Art of Lying, therefore, has to make use of the truth. Theatre should reveal. In order to do this, it has to be naked, to find new forms which are appropriate for the confrontation with the merely deceptive."

The course will work on a number of short scenes, either based on Ritsema's own proposals for texts (Hamlet by Shakespeare, Hamletmaschine by Heiner Müller ) or making use of texts proposed by the students. "We will work and think fast, so that one can discover and develop one's own personal style."

"A small rule-book for directors"
7 days

Viviane De Muynck, Actress, Antwerp
Trained as an actress in Brussels, with among others Jan Descorte. She has acted with the most important Dutch and Belgian ensembles and theatre companies: Maatschappij, Discordia, Stuc, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Zuidelijk Toneel. She has repeatedly worked with the directors Gerardjan Rijnders, Jan Ritsema and, recently, Liz LeCompte of the Wooster Group, New York. Since 1993, she has been a regular performer in Jan Lauwer's Needcompany, most recently in The Snakesong Trilogy and Macbeth. De Muynck has great experience working with the most obstinate of directors. She is familiar with the problems of an actor who again and again is confronted with an aesthetic concept which often is initially alien. Her subject is the difficulty of communication, of the verbal conveyance between the watching eye and the acting body. Recently, she has begun to pass on her reflections on the relationship between director and actor to students.

"Talent, intelligence and imaginative powers are indispensable to creation, but we should not forget the importance of openness, humor and clarity in communication between actor and director. Both may be extremely gifted, but not so talented when it comes to human relations. A good understanding of an actor's style, motives and needs in the trajectory of a work in progress will enable a director to give ample nourishment to the actor's performance. A mutual trust needs to be established creating an atmosphere in which the actor feels free to explore his own creativity. We will work on short scenes and talk about acting, the many different styles, the apparent contradictions in the demands placed upon the performer. And we will try to establish some guidelines in dealing with each other."

special guest for two days:
Christoph Marthaler, Director, Zürich
Studied music (oboe) and acting at Jacques Leqoc's mime school in Paris. Started as theatre musician and works as director at, amongst others, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Oper Frankfurt, the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin and the Salzburger Festspiele. His theatre productions, composed like musical pieces, have toured theatres and festivals world-wide.

"Maybe I don't have a clear concept of directing. I would much prefer to speak of a process of fermentation, like that of wine. What counts is setting in motion the right processes of fermentation. Maybe a director is an enologist too."