Jan 272014
 

December 3, 2013 By Rebecca Silva

Senior Photo Before attending Ambassador Theatre’s production of Protest, I read most of the play, leaving the ending  untouched so that I would be surprised during the show.  The text is, after all, the crux of activist Vaclav  Havel’s play about two men who choose different paths in their lives to address and fight for social justice in  their country.  I must say, this production was extremely unique, well-done, and thought-provoking.  Director  Dr. Gail Humphries-Mardirosian’s vision certainly came to life in the parallel stories of Stanek/Vanek and  Stankova/Vankova as she expertly explored the realities of working towards social justice by using the  relationships between each set of characters as a vehicle to demonstrate the choices one must make  throughout one’s entire life.

In Protest, Stanek and Vanek (as well as their female counterparts) are foils to each other.  Throughout the play, Stanek and Stankova seem to remain the dominant characters, each having the vast majority of the dialogue and being the character who has to make a choice.  Vanek and Vankova, on the other hand, seem more submissive yet steadfast each in their own regards.  Ironically, it is perhaps Vanek and Vankova that are dominant because, ultimately, they are the ones who provoke Stanek and Stankova into a downward spiral of doubt, thought, and intense questioning of both the self and of others.

There is a single difference between Stanek/Stankova and Vanek/Vankova: Vanek and Vankova remain steadfast in their political 1426413_10152043199732419_1564594405_nactivism.  They adhere to their beliefs and never surrender, even though it means that they are in danger, as made evident by this character’s recent release from jail.  Stanek and Stankova, on the other hand, have compromised their beliefs for security.  These characters were previously artists who gave up their passions, dreams, and activism to protect their family.  Stanek and Stankova remain partially politically active (when it interests them), as they operate from the sidelines anonymously.

The question which Protest asks is this: what is the best way to champion social justice?  Is it better  to stick hard and fast to your values even though this decision may leave you incapacitated, rendering you to unable to contribute to the ongoing battle for social justice? Or rather,  is it wiser to save yourself, so that way you can still work behind the scenes throughout your life?  On one hand, Vanek and Vankova are  more dedicated, honest, noble, and respectable for adhering to their self-governing principles.  On the other hand, they are foolish and their lack of tact leads them straight into jail, where they cannot do anything productive to further their cause.  Meanwhile, Stanek and Stankova are pragmatic in their efforts to secure protection for themselves and their families, although their tact and indirect contributions to the fight towards social justice may be seen as weak at best.  Did these characters, perhaps, go back on what they once stood for?

1469906_10152043200317419_1379102465_nThe complexity of the decision is even more complicated when one approaches social justice through the lenses of different genders.  In Ambassador Theatre’s production of Protest, Vanek and Vankova certainly seemed more noble, while Stanek and Stankova appeared utilitarian and rather nihilistic.  This may be due to the fact that I am a woman, but I found the scene between Vankova and Stankova more intriguing, fresh, and exciting.  Stankova was extremely powerful, commanding the scene yet flustering all over the place, while Vankova was soft-spoken, but firm.  For me, Stankova’s decision to protect her life and family was much more credible and respectable than Stanek’s.  I admired her manipulative nature and inner strength.  This is the paradox of feminism: that women’s rights remain a hot topic in the realm of social justice, but a strong woman does not always champion women’s rights.  The image of Margaret Thatcher comes to mind– a powerful woman who thought of herself as a man rather than a woman equal to a man.  Dr. Gail Humphries-Mardirosian did an excellent and quite effective job creating a new point of view of social justice issues, and especially highlighting the thoughts of a strong woman who puts her life at risk by threatening to upset the system.

Most recent social justice issues have to deal with inequality.  This often means social inequality in human rights, more specifically with regards to discrimination in employment opportunities and salaries, as well as marriage rights.  Just as controversial and important is economic inequality, especially prevalent in poverty and homelessness.  I strongly believe that theatre can be used as a tool to address these problems in our world and make a statement about them.  But first, we must address injustices in the theatre itseld.

The world of the performing arts has garnered the image of overpriced frivolity for entertaining middle class citizens.  This reputation needs to be torn down and built up if theatre is ever going to be used effectively in the future.  There needs to be more cost effective programs that allow people of lower economic status to see shows.  If theatre is to be a vehicle for political activism , it needs to be more accessible.  New forms must be cultivated to bring in newcomers with no theatre background.  Theatre should be more widely taught in schools to introduce the thematic elements of performance early on in people’s lives.  The art needs to be much more accessible, flexible, honest, and threatening to the status quo.  Each show, scene, and exercise must make a meaningful statement in its theme, or as Aristotle once wrote, in its driving thought.  The theatre has so much potential to change the world through its inherently politically active nature.

Jan 182014
 

Hanna NOTE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

Welcome to the opening of DIONYSIA: Celebration of Greek Culture at the beautiful theatre in the George Washington National Memorial.  This is our second in a series of international cultural festivals following in the footsteps of last year’s award-winning performances of Hopa Tropa Kukerica! - celebrating Bulgarian Culture.  Thanks to the gracious support and friendship of the City of Alexandria and the Commission of the Arts as well as partnerships, with the George Washington Masonic Memorial, Embassy of Greece, artists and many friends who help us to continue our big celebrations of cultures of the world, our international cultural dialog goes on.  The Ambassador Theater’s 5th season is rolling on!  During the past 4 years, we have produced 9 main stage productions in addition to various “Bare Bones” and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café programs, play-reading workshops, summer camps, Studio Classes and outreach programs.  All of our programs have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across multiple continents (Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Macedonia, and Poland). We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over a thousand students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland.  Our productions have been seen by over 6,000 spectators in many venues around the area.  We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives from where our productions originate.  Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica!, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award.   I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue.

We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year.  As part of Celebration of Greek Culture, we will present Dyskolos at a new venue in Anacostia’s Arts Center January 30 – February 2, 2014.  Later in the spring, we will celebrate World Theater Day March 27, 2014, and present plays from Austria and Canada in partnership with the Embassy of Austria and Canada in March and June.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that this year we have started offering season subscriptions – get yours today and make sure that you don’t miss a single adventure with Ambassador Theater!  And now I would like to invite you to this very special performance full of Greek dance, comedy with masks and slapstick. Let this Greek festival, full of lovely entertainment begin! Thank you so much for your continued support. We hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

 

Nov 202013
 

NOTE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

20110930_DSC_3593Welcome to the opening of PROTEST celebrating the life and works of one of the most renowned Czech playwrights, statesman and a humanitarian, Vaclav Havel.  I would like to extend my special thanks to dear friends and colleagues, Gail Humphries Mardirosian and Barbara Karpetova for all of their support.  We are happy to partner with the Mutual Inspirations Festival and the Embassy of the Czech Republic again presenting the last part of the “Vanek’s Trilogy” and closing this year’s Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013- Vaclav Havel.  The Ambassador Theater’s 5th season is rolling on!  During the past 4 years, we have produced 9 main stage productions in addition to various “Bare Bones” and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café programs, play-reading workshops, summer camps, Studio Classes and outreach programs.  All of our programs have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across multiple continents. We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over 500 students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland.  Our productions have been seen by over 5,500 spectators in many venues around the area.  We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives from where our productions originate.  Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica at the George Washington Masonic Memorial Theatre, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award.   I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue.

We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year.  This winter we will be organizing a celebration of Greek culture, including the production of Menander’s Dyskolos, for which we received the Alexandria Commission for the Arts grant. We are also planning to present Dyskolos at a new venue in Anacostia’s Arts Center January 30 – February 2, 2014.  Later in the spring, we will celebrate World Theater Day March 27, 2014 and present an Austrian play in partnership with the Embassy of Austria.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that this year we have started offering season subscriptions – get yours today and make sure that you don’t miss a single adventure with Ambassador Theater!  And now I would like to invite you to this very special performance of PROTEST. Let this interesting political discourse, full of beer begin! Thank you so much for your continued support and we hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

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These performances are part of HAVEL’S TRILOGY, connected to the “Vaněk plays,” as part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013 – Václav Havel, celebrating the life and legacy of the former president, playwright, and human rights advocate. For more information about the festival, please visit: www.mutualinspirations.org.
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Nov 142013
 

ElizaFalkwebIt is Friday November 8, one week before the premiere of Protest, the team’s first rehearsal at Flashpoint Theatre.  The set is ready. Audience members will be up for a surprise, as their seats scattered around small round tables are now part of the stage transformed into an intimate cafe. Two small platforms, one on each side of the cafe, are designated as stage spaces for actors only. They mirror each other, each furnished in the likeness of Stanek’s home study – writing tables with old-fashioned typewriters, crystal brandy carafes and glasses, magnolias in vases – cozy and affluent. Set designer, Jonathan Rushbrook is in attendance to make any necessary adjustments, if needed. So is Zachary Dalton, lighting Designer and Jim Vincent, Stage Manager.

Following warm up exercises with the actors, Director, Gail Hump

hries Mardirosian starts the rehearsal. Beautiful music, written especially for the production by Jerzy Sapieyevski, opens the performance. It has become an intrinsic part of how the story of Protest is told, giving it additional expression and force. Ivan Zizek (Stanek) and his double Hanna Bondarewska (Stankova) enter and each walks towards their stage. Michael Crowley (Ferdinand Vanek) and his alter ego, Sissel Bakken (Ferdinanda Vankova) enter shortly after. And so the extraordinary performance begins. Protestsmaller

In the break, I asked the Director about her thinking behind the innovative idea to introduce female counterparts for Stanek and Vanek. Gail Humphries explained that her concept originated in a feminist perspective which called for introduction of female presence to balance out the all male energy. She also wanted to provide alter egos for Vanek and Stanek and thus making the characters more rounded and powerful, and through this to increase the impact of Havel’s ‘voice’. Gail added that there was an additional advantage in her approach that would benefit the audience. The play’s complex and at times condensed text gets to be broken down and repeated which makes it more accommodating for the spectators.

I mentioned to Ms Humphries that her concept whilst fascinating and bold seemed to be very challenging, especially for the actors. Watching the rehearsed performance reminded me of a carefully crocheted ornamental piece of silk throw, which demanded perfect smoothness as even a slightest irregularity would spoil its beauty. Gail concurred and compared her version of Protest to a musical piece which cannot afford even single bad harmony and agrees that it was a demanding and at the same time searching experience for the actors.

Watching part two of the rehearsal I am in awe of the originality and force of the performance with female actresses mirroring and occasionally challenging the males, lines being echoed, actors moving across the stage, swapping partners as if in a dance. The actors, directed by Ms Humphries, are going through the lines, repeating if necessary; adjusting tones and phrases; perfecting synchronicity, eye contact, pauses and movements – witnessing all this makes me understand how difficult the parts are to master. The rehearsal indeed resembles a piece of a wonderful and very elaborate work, which despite of being almost completed, still requires final adjustments before achieving perfection.

I cannot wait to see this original and powerful piece of theatre in all of its perfect harmony and encourage all of you to come and see it!

To Read More by Eliza Anna Falk

To Get Tickets

 

WHERE:

Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

WHEN: November 19 – December 15, 2013

November 19, 2013 Preview at 8 pm

No performances during the week of Thanksgiving: Nov. 27 – 30

Opening November 20, 2013 at 8 pm

Press Night: Saturday Nov. 23 at 8:00 pm

Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8:00 pm

Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2:00 pm

TICKETS: $20 – $40

On line: http://www.aticc.org/home/box-office

For mature audiences

Sep 302013
 

From Ottawa to Washington DC June 7 – June 15, 2013

MagneticFestivalOttawa2013Bravo to all organizers of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival 2013!  As a recipient of the 2013 Canadian-Washington Theatre Partnership, I was delegated to participate in the festival in Ottawa, Canada in June 2013.  From the moment I received this award at the Helen Hays Award Gala to the moment of arriving at the airport in Ottawa, I was amazed by the treatment and professionalism I encountered from everyone involved.  First, I have received all information from Michelle Mahoney from the Embassy of Canada who made sure that I was fully equipped with all necessary knowledge about the trip, itinerary and she also connected me with the organizers of the festival. Thanks to her I got introduced right away to Brenda Leadlay, Artistic Director, who connected me with many directors and authors who even sent me the scripts of the shows I was about to see at the festival before I came. This was truly helpful in better understanding all presented plays since I had very little knowledge about the Canadian theater.  It was also an interesting way to connect with the artists via e-mail and discuss their projects beforehand.  Thanks to her I was also able to briefly visit Toronto and see my friends, the Polish Theater and walk through various exciting sites of the city before landing in Ottawa June 9th.  I truly felt well received and recognized by all theater creators, lovers and supporters. Thank you theatreWashington and the Embassy of Canada for such a fantastic opportunity and experience!

IMAG2503

Well prepared and packed with so many exciting events and encounters the week of June 9 – June 15, 2013 in Ottawa

Upon my arrival at the airport in Ottawa I was greeted like a queen by one of the producers of the festival, Richard Cliff; I was driven to the hotel, presented with a nice gift bag with my full itinerary, tickets to all shows and events and I was showed my way around Ottawa.  The fully packed week with all interesting shows and events begun!  Right from the start I felt like a “Fairy Queen” in a beautiful city of Ottawa who flew from place to place as a turn of a magic wand.  IMAG2519I loved the city and its friendly atmosphere with its very characteristic architecture of spiral rooftops, especially the Grandiose Parliament Building and others around it.  I felt at home, surrounded by very friendly faces and very inspiring people.  I blended so easily and was carried by this amazing energy all the way through.  As I was part of the festival I was also part of each show and event, as this year’s productions and theatrical events were all very interactive and I even came to call them anti-theater, since all spectators became not only witnesses but had to participate in many of the performances.

Spreading out the ashes of a friend with Peter and Valerie

IMAG2454First, I met Peter and Valerie at a private house where I was greeted by Peter Reder, an actor from UK, along with 8 other spectators at the door and set in a nice small room around coffee table and offered a cup of hot tea.  Right from the start we became part of the family grieving over the artist from Malta who immigrated to Canada and died in early age of 46 while biking.  Peter introduced us to Valerie Buhagiar who walked us through Frank’s life by showing us the photos, short film, sharing some memories and at the end taking us to a nearby park to spread out the ashes.  While watching or rather being part of this gathering you forget for a moment that this is actually a theatrical experience. This is how Valerie and Peter came with an idea to create a new way of communicating with the audience with very intimate surroundings and by using a fictional story presented in semi real way. They travel with this partially improvised script around Canada, UK and other places and change their stories.  Wherever the show is presented they would find a new private home and change the story to relate to the specific place. We all ended up in a nearby pub and drank some beer while continuing our very casual conversation about life and blended the story that we have just witnessed with our own life stories.  Before the end of the whole evening we all became friends and walked back to the festival’s pub in a gallery where we met with the rest of delegates, artists, directors and actors who just came out from other theaters and shared our experience with them while listening to their interesting encounters with other theaters from all over Canada, drinking and eating tasty Polish kielbasa.  I felt at home again since the kielbasa was made by a Polish Canadian fellow whom we all spoke and laughed with in a courtyard. The mingling did not finish until dawn and then we walked back together to a hotel while exchanging our contact information and talking about our theater experiences, and life. That was a great way of finishing a very inspiring and stimulating day.

Monday, June 10 started very early for us with a nice breakfast meeting with Kathryn MacLellan, KAZAN CO-OP, Mary Lou Martin, Chester Playhouse and Stew Art from Zuppa Theatre Company in Halifax.  We exchanged information about each company they IMAG2493represented and could not stop talking about the new trends in the theater, searching for new way of communication with the audience.  I was not surprised how much passion and devotion I could witness while listening to their ideas and styles they work in their theater companies, and once again, I felt at home, passion is the one thing that we as performers and lovers of the art all share.  They were very interested in the works of the Ambassador Theater and what we have done so far and where we are going.  We already planned our future meeting next year and started thinking about possible collaboration on future projects.  I cannot wait to go to Halifax next June to continue our creative brainstorming.

Excited and inspired by each other’s energy and passion for the theater, we all went to the World Market Café to meet with many Artistic Directors, producers, directors of various theater festivals, actors, designers and playwrights from all over Canada, UK, Ireland and US.  As one of 88 industry delegates I was able to be part of interesting discussion about theater and share ideas with many talented directors and actors from all over Canada and abroad.  I met several producers and directors of other theater festivals such as Harun Morrison, director of Fierce Festival in London from UK or Michael Rubenfeld from SummerWorks Performance Festival in Toronto and many others.  Meeting them and listening to their stories about their works brought back my idea of starting the international theater festival in Washington DC.  They reminded me that it is possible to make my dream a reality by consistently perusing what we have been doing already by creating our International Artist Series as a way of taking small steps towards future theater festival.  After that meeting I knew what I would be looking for at this festival, interesting shows to bring to DC. There are many interesting works and plenty of talented artists that I would like to invite to perform in DC and collaborate with the American actors and artists.  The list is constantly growing and I cannot wait to make this happen very soon.

War of 1812 - A Fantastic Satire that must be seen in Washington DC

newbattle-w-flagsVideoProduction`1812I was absolutely enchanted by the VideoCabaret Company, one of most inventive and celebrated theater ensembles in Toronto which uses TV/video technique in the way they use light and stage their works.  The War of 1812 written and directed by Michael Hollingsworth dramatizes the history of the war and a successful defense of Canada.  It mocks all sides of the war by showing the audience its caricatures and downfalls.  Nobody wins but the spectators who leave the theater absolutely mesmerized by the fabulous acting skills, beautiful and very creative costumes, movements and lights.  I immediately imagined watching this show in Washington DC at Ford Theater or at the Library of Congress. I would be very curious to see how DC audiences would react to this very creative and very provocative satire, showing us all idiocy and results of the war provoking us to think about all wars and its results and about its impact on everyone’s life.  The grotesque fast tempo of the play showed us all how “ugly and stupid the war was.”  The action and scenes change very quickly requiring all the actors to transform from one character to another in a split second, creating at the same time an image of fast forward film like result and allowing the audience, to travel from one side to another.  We meet President James Madison, Americans and the British, who were allied with the Shawnee chief Tecumseh as well as learn about the personal dramas of Isaac Brock, John Strachan, James Fitzgibbons and Laura Secord. Bravo to all creators of this fast paste, and very clever grotesque satire!  I hope to see you in DC soon!

Inspired and uplifted by the performance of War of 1812, we all went to a special welcoming dinner to meet the rest of the delegates from other theater companies at the Performing Arts Center.  While getting ready to sit, I learned that I was chosen to be one of the presenters at that dinner to talk about Ambassador Theater and Washington DC.  I was a bit terrified since I did not prepare any speech but the friendly atmosphere of all new colleagues and the uplifting mood that I carried out from the VideoCabaret’s performance, IMAG2481helped me to quickly stand at the podium and address the audience. I realized once more of the importance and value of the opportunity I received and how important this partnership is.  As I always say, “theater is a collaboration of all art forms and a collaboration of many creative minds from all over the world” and I felt again that this recognition helps me to meet the goal of expanding the circle of the collaborators and develop many valuable artistic partnerships.  I spoke from my heart and my passion for the theater and for the arts which run through my veins, and for that I received a standing ovation.  I felt the same from everyone in the room and wanted to fly up above singing the song of joy for creating, discovering, as well as building and developing the theater I have started.

The Day was not over yet….

ThePleasureofseeingheragain (2)Straight from the exciting dinner I ran with other new friends to see a play written by Michael Tremblay, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again produced by the Western Canada Theatre Production.  I was intrigued by the script revealing a compelling story of a native Canadian and the interesting relationship he had with his mother that continued on even after her death with her spirit that would constantly visit him and interrupt his everyday life.  Aboriginal actors Lorne Cardinal and Margo Cane took the spectators on a compelling journey through their lives. The symbolism of the play inspired me to get in touch with its author to read the play and also read some other works by the beloved Canadian playwright Michael Trembley.  I see this play as a great potential for an intriguing production with many possibilities for an artistic collaboration.  After the play we all gathered again at the Market Café to mingle and talk about everyone’s experiences of the very intense day.  Our busy Monday continued on until early hours of Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 11 started with an early Panel Discussion on Authenticity.  Since this year’s festival brought interesting shows that IMAG2498reveled real life stories and involved audience in most of them, we have discussed how real or make believe those stories were.  Is this a new way of communicating with the spectators?  Or are they anti theatre performances created to provoke its audiences and actors to real reactions, breaking the 4th wall of the theater?  Does this type of theater really matter?  We exchanged our ideas, answered lots of questions but truly did not find the final answers or recognized the trends as a permanent change in today’s theater.  We all found them as an experimentation that was always going on in the theater from its beginning.  We all search for truth and authenticity in the theater that is a reflection of our lives.  Straight from an interesting panel discussion we all went to Arts Marketplace to meet and greet theatre makers from all over Canada.  At the Marketplace, I felt I was part of Canadian Theatre EXPO with many theatre booths filled with brochures, banners, programs, fabulous display of various theatrical achievements of many talented actors, designers and artists.  I was part of live happenings in which actors and directors from all over presented their current and future productions live.  Overloaded with brochures, cds, business cards and photos I left for well-deserved lunch accompanied by new friends from Canadian theaters.  The Arts Market Place and later Speed dating session during which I was able to talk to many Artistic directors, designers from various theater companies around Canada brought back my idea of creating an International Theater Festival in Washington DC.  With fast developing theaters in Washington DC and help of a wonderful TheatreWashington organization, we could also start Washington DC Theater Festival in near future to allow artists from all over USA and from abroad to come to DC, see each other works, exchange artistic ideas and at the same time continue an artistic cultural dialog.  That way Washington DC would be also a true capital of the world.

a-brimful-of-asha.762x4001Full of creative ideas inspired by fantastic people I have met, I went to see an interesting performance of A Brimful of Asha created by Asha and Ravi Jain, another example of an authentic theatre, called also “A Why No Theatre”—an example of another production breaking the 4th wall by inviting its audience on the stage and offering very tasty Indian food before sharing the story of an Indian family tradition of an Indian-Canadian actor and his mom, an authentic Indian woman—not actor with the audience.  The combination of an authentic story told by an actor/creator of the performance and his mom’s performance, made us all part of their family and brought us all closer.  Mom, Ravi Jain, absolutely stole the show with her punch lines and sense of humor.  We all left the theater as we would live a very good gathering full of love and fun stories.

Wednesday, June 12th was full of interesting panel sessions with Producers and Presenters during which I learned a lot about the true relationships between the producers and presenters and how their collaborative work may benefit audiences going beyond entertainment.  I listened to various view points from presented by many producers and presenters from Canada and abroad, what are the challenges and fears and how to work with it.  I learned a lot about each role and how to balance two roles if it happens that you wear “both hats” at the same time. My notebook is full of ideas and interesting things to look for and to investigate for the future development of my theater. Here again, I felt at home, shared the same fears, challenges and at the same time understood how every challenge is actually an opportunity to create more and better.           IMAG2467

There were two more big productions to see, The God That Comes and Winners and Losers.  Both very different experiences of theater, The God That Comes created by Christian Barry and Hawksley Workam and performed by a multitalented Hawksley Workman actor, musician invited us to a Cabaret celebration of rock’n’roll with wine and “ecstasy”.  It was a very provoking, full of interesting images, musical effects and phenomenal acting skills theatrical experience.  I would love to invite this very talented artist to DC and perform in one of our spaces in the area such as “Black Cats” bar or maybe at the Birchmere in Alexandria VA, which might be a perfect place to present the show.

Thursday, June 13

418312261_295WinnersLoosers

Another very creative and engaging performance that I was able to see, was Winners and Losers created and performed by Marcus Youssef and James Long.  It was a very funny and provocative game that tested both actors’ limits of their friendship.  It was a partially improvised performance bringing to life both actors’ life stories, their social and economic status presented in a form of a game that could end violently.  Here again, the audience was pulled into the game where broth actors battled over the imaginary nets of a tennis match, sometimes crossing the lines, sometimes winning and losing their game.  Both experienced both sides of the game and the audience stayed for after show discussion to ask very interesting questions.  I would like to see them both engage Washington DC audience in their theatrical match.

The festival in Ottawa concluded with Industry Series, 10 theatrical happenings, mini shows presented by 10 different theatre companies.  That was an interesting and very clever idea to provoke the artists to create shows for variety of spaces in one area. Lookingforalostplayindustryminiplay

Each participant was given a space, under the stairs, attic, office, board room, outside patio and more and then they had to come up with the story.   The audience members were walking from space to space to be part of interesting stories, happenings, and theatrical experiences. We became part of the Board Room Agenda during which we had to follow the rules given to us at the entrance and learn how to act under pressure.  Who did not follow the rule they were fired right in front of everyone.  We witnessed the staged rape during the sorority’s events or were invited to an attic to go through various things and hear the story or laugh and cry with 2 clowns who lost their script of a play and then created an improvised play   by using found things in storage.  During two late nights I was able to see all 10 mini plays and meet all the artists afterward in the Market Café afterwards and talk about their clever ideas.  That was a very creative way of closing the Magnetic Festival.

Few days of very intense schedule of panels, sessions, pitches, very creative performances was going very fast. During just few days I was able to see all performances presented by the theaters from all over Canada, meet lots of very creative and talented people and learn about the Canadian Theater.  Now, I would like to go over all of the brochures, business cards and cds and relive those few days again.  I am sure to go back to Canada next year to Halifax to reconnect with all those I met in Ottawa and start working on a creative collaboration. Thank you Helen Hays and the Embassy of Canada for giving me the opportunity to learn about Canadian theater, meet so many talented artists, producers and playwrights and for opening me the door for very interesting artistic collaboration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 182013
 

20110930_DSC_3593 Welcome to the opening of our 5th season with the US premiere of The Third Breast by one of Poland’s well-known  playwrights, Ireneusz Iredyński. We are again coming back to Polish repertoire, having begun our international  travels in June 2009 with the opening of Out at Sea by Sławomir Mrożek. During the past 4 years, we have produced  9 main stage productions in addition to various Bare Bones and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café  programs, various play-reading workshops, summer theater production camps, art and drama Studio Classes and  outreach educational programs which have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across  multiple continents. We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over 500 students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland. Our productions have been seen by over 5,500 spectators in many venues around the area. We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives from where our productions originate. Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica at the George Washington Masonic Memorial Theatre, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue. We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year. Later this fall, we will be partnering with the Embassy of the Czech Republic as we present two of Vaclav Havel’s Vanek trilogy: Audience and Protest. This winter we will be organizing a celebration of Greek culture, including the production of Menander’s Dyskolos, for which we received the Alexandria Commission for the Arts grant. Later in the spring, we will present an Austrian play in partnership with the Embassy of Austria. And mark your calendars for October 10th as we celebrate our fifth season with an International Fiesta where we will present the 2013 Ambassador of International Theater Award to Mr. Boguslaw Jerke and Mrs. Barbara Papantoniou acknowledging their ongoing support and devotion to our mission. Finally, we are thrilled to announce that this year we will start offering season subscriptions – get yours today and make sure you don’t miss a single adventure with Ambassador Theater!

And now I would like to invite you all to join our commune. It is a very special community inspired

9290247312_5e311b7ab0_cThirdBreastpresow

by the playwright’s words and created by a group of very talented actors and designers. We entreat you not only to bear witness, but to actively participate in this wonderful spiritual journey to discover: how can we achieve perfection? Is it even possible? Thank you so much for your continued support and we hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

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Jun 202013
 
Sissel Bakken, Matthew Ingraham, Hanna Bondarewska, Christopher Henley and Rachel Silvert

It was so very thrilling to be able to observe today’s rehearsal of Act 3, especially as it was the first time that I was able to see the play that I know so well being enacted, and Hanna’s vision of the play being brought to life.  My immersion into the play and the connection with the characters were instant as the actors, Matthew playing George and Christopher impersonating Thomas, have by now become the protagonists. Watching them perfecting their powerful performances under the direction of Hanna, and with the help of Rachel, made me realize how far the team have come. They are half way through the rehearsals, and will shortly move the trials onto the actual stage at Flashpoint. At this stage the focus of their work is on re-working selected scenes in search of that ideal combination of words, movement, expression and interaction, which would bring about the ideal effect in a most powerful way possible. Cannot wait to see future rehearsals with all three characters present….

The Third Breast–Work in Progress

During the break I had a moment to talk with the team and ask them about their impressions of where they were at and the process of getting there.

Matthew and Christopher talked about the process of bringing ‘The Third Breast,’ written in socialist Poland of 1970s, to its American 21st century context. They mentioned the importance of working on the English text with its translator, Sylwia Daneel, adjusting lines to make them ‘flow’, and at the same time getting to know the characters, internalizing the soul of the play and memorizing parts. Differences between the European style of directing and acting (more prescribed and structured) and the American one (more freelance and actor-centered), and the constructive ways of dealing with them, were also raised. The actors emphasized the importance of each rehearsal, as well as informal team meetings, in dealing with the issues as they arise, and in building up their awareness, knowledge and confidence both on individual and professional level.

Hanna focused on the importance of group development strategies, which have been in place since the team’s creation. She said that the cast and crew had decided to set up their own ‘commune’ as a vehicle to identify with the play, but more importantly, to get to know each other better and feel more comfortable as a group. Each common activity, be it meditation, energy work, music, dance, movement or ritual inspired by Native American traditions, has created a new level of unity, deeper realization of importance of nature, peace and harmony, and has brought new insights into the play and its characters. The ‘commune’ is very much looking forward to their trip to Mount Jackson planned for the end of June which will allow them the opportunity to consolidate the work they have done to-date, on both professional and personal levels.

To see what they have accomplished, Get your ticket now

Jun 022013
 
Hanna Bondarewska, Christopher Henley and Matthew Ingraham

Hanna Bondarewska, Christopher Henley and Matthew Ingraham

As we work to create the commune within Iredynski’s The Third Breast, the team has been discussing what our perfect communes would look like.  It is interesting how each one of us has such distinct visions of what the ideal way of living should be.  And yet, somehow, they seem as though they could fit together.  Below are some of the thoughts each of us have expressed during rehearsals so far.  We invite you to read them, and ask yourself: what would your perfect commune look like?

Sissel (“Eva”)

I can’t imagine living in a place cut off from the world.  However, my perfect world would be one no financial worries.  No violence.  A place where I could live doing what I love, and everyone around me could also do what they love; It should be a good mix of interests and passions.  Where I could be outside when I want to be and exercise regularly.  I would want to be able to travel, to teach and share with others.  I want to connect with people who are passionate in life and about what they do.  I want to be able to read and have interesting discussions.  It would be nice to have a place both near the ocean and close to a city.

Christopher (“Thomas”)

The really really striking thing about the world today is how global society has become, and how the character of individual places has been compromised in a really unfortunate way.  When I first moved to New York  in the early 1980s, I felt like, oh wow, I’m here like 15 years too late, I’ve missed all of the excitement.  But now, everything is chains where there used to be blocks and blocks of independent clothing stores and record stores.  The whole neighborhood is gone. All the places that really made me think about what made New York really exciting then.  Now looking back it’s like, 1983 was the golden age.  Culture was so much more shared, unified.  Now I have no idea who these magazine covers are and why I’m supposed to know them.

            An other element of communes that I would find very attractive is nudity, or not wearing much clothes.  That’s one of those restrictions that just doesn’t make sense.  What it it, 91 degrees today? And we’re all very, very dressed.  It’s just very freeing.  It’s this taboo that you’re allowed to break on stage, but you can’t just walking up and down the street.

Mathew Ingraham (“George”)

I believe in a place that is corrupted and organic.  A place that is self sustaining and free of deception and lies.  A place where I can live with all of my friends and family and we are all kind and loving towards each other.  A place where we can all do what we love.  I would be able to perform and read and write.  I can have a safe environment where I can have and raise my children.  An environment where everyone is supported and encouraged to do what they love and follow their hearts.  A place where there are rolling fields with vineyards and farms.  There would be lots of hours running and lots of puppies.  The horses would run through the rolling fields and everyday would be beautiful.  When it rained it would be a warm nourished rain that revitalized the earth.  Everyday would be a celebration of life.   It would be a place where you could learn and share knowledge with multiple creative out

Hanna (Director)

Above all, I believe in peace, love and happiness; passion for life.  We would start each morning with exercises to open people up and feel the good energy from nature.  In my commune, everyone would respect each other, listen to each other, love.  There would be no jealousy or envy (which is really what creates all the war and misunderstanding in the world).  We would use different cultures to help people understand each other better and thereby accept each other’s differences.

Rachel (Stage Manager)

            It would definitely be located up in the mountains, surrounded by trees and valleys, rivers and clean, fresh air.  We would be self sufficient, energy-wise.  Wind and water generators, possibly bio fuel.   There could be a communal farm.  it would be a completely democratic and egalitarian society.  One person, one vote.  I think I would create a place where people could enter and exit on will. for example they could work outside the commune and still live in the community.  In that vein, the Moshav model in Israel is appealing to me.

Do you want to find out what we came up with?  Come and see it, get your ticket now!

 

 

Jun 012013
 

Friday, May 24, 2013

ThirdBreastcast (449x144)

Here we are, sitting on the sofa watching the movie, “Dinner with Andre,” and we are all so connected, listening to two different perceptions of the world and humanity. Where are we all going? Are we really turning into automatons which live in a habitual kind of way? Who we are is defined by our actions. Are we all driven by money? All those questions come to mind.

We take a break and give each other a massage. This helps us to feel closer, safer and we all feel a moment of true sharing, true giving without expectations, without needing money.   Money which turned us into robots who work to survive, pay bills, do specific tasks and fulfill our habitual way of living. Do we want to escape from that?  Do we truly feel happy?  Oh boy, are we truly dying as a civilization? Are we able to truly use our senses and truly see, feel, smell and taste what life is really about? Even as the characters in the movie ask these questions, so do we. How can we find the answers?

And now that we have finished the movie, a bit tired after a long day of working, rehearsing, digging through Iredyński’s words on paper, trying to understand the characters’ motivations, where are we? There are so many thoughts that come to mind, so many feelings that are hard to describe. I just want to live…but what does that truly mean? What would a truly idealistic world, one that I would love to live in, look like? What could I do to make this world actually come to be?

My first instinct tells me to just simply love and appreciate what I have, take a big breath and enjoy life, every moment of it. I have always wanted to love and be loved, but is this really possible?  I do not want to be pessimistic; Rather, I choose to believe in goodness and to be optimistic. I’d rather see the sun on a stormy day trying hard to break through. I’d rather live with a smile on my face in the most tragic moments and try to send most of my love to everywhere around me, I’d rather see people smile than in pain. I’d rather see the beauty in the world. But how that can be possible in the face of all the tragedies around the world?

The simplest thing would be to shut down the internet, TV, radio and go into the bushes and live in harmony with nature. But is nature truly safe? This beautiful nature can destroy all living creatures through tremendous hurricanes, tornadoes that can completely wipe out all villages and everything in their way. So, is it possible to live in true harmony with nature? Or maybe we should again come back to simplicity in life, as Taoism and other spiritual and religious faiths suggest, and accept what every day brings. We really only have the power to change our own behavior, and so we cannot change the whole world….unless we change the world through the way in which we live ,and add to this world what we give. That’s the key, isn’t it’?

Mar 112013
 
Karin Rosnizeck at the Literary Cafe: In the Realm of Women, March 7, 2013 at the Embassy of Austria

Photo by Magda Pinkowska

I would like to congratulate you once again on your splendid production of the Literary Cafe held last week at the Embassy of Austria.

You succeeded in transforming the heavy concrete performance space into an intimate cafe setting.  The combination of poetry, music, song and dance came together marvelously around three major themes of the evening.

Your readily recognizable ease, infectious joy and delivery pervaded the room.  You made it all look so natural and easy even though a great deal of work and preparation went into developing the concept, organizing the script and directing the production. GroupLitCafe

I regret that limited resources may not have permitted you to extend the show for a few more nights and even take it on the road.  The quality of your production deserved no less and several of the performers told me they would have enjoyed participating in a repeat performance.

With best regards,

Aubrey Williams