- Why Devise?Why Now? Creating the Impossible
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, despair overtook me and I began to find my work empty and ineffectual, incapable of changing the world or even touching just one person. I decided, along with my partner Carlos Uriona, to work on The Adventures of Don Quixote: a novel written in far-away times but with unfortunately similar dilemmas and ominously parallel questions about idealism and fanaticism, cultural wars and social decay, and individual honor and the nature of patriotic rebellion. In conjunction with this research I began to explore a new way of creating, combining physical imagery and emotional intensity with spectacle, flight, comedy, and a circus-like dynamic. I found that I had reached a unilateral place with my previous work, starting to settle for answers instead of asking questions, and I thought I was too young to let my work die in this manner. I wanted to move away from the anger and heaviness that was starting to take over the duality of the Song Trilogy, and begin to find the play and therefore the lightness which must exist in any art whose purpose is not didactic. I must admit that the last thing I could bear to be at the time was unilateral.
the UnPOSSESSED, based on this Quixotic investigation, exists in the juxtaposition between the external nightmare that we have created and the impossible dream that we must risk creating. Although I have spent my life trumpeting the necessities of art, never before have I felt so convinced that without it, our descent into chaos is inevitable. For it seems clear that hope lies beyond our frail attempt to "understand," and art is one of the few realms that can deal with the world beyond this "understanding."
I founded my theatre group, Double Edge, over twenty years ago with this idea. There must be a place in our society for those who want to ask questions, and a means of expression for those who seek what is beyond words. Through three cycles of work—including the Women's Cycle (1982–86), a series of adapted plays on the duality of women as victims and victimizers; the Song Trilogy (1987–98), an exploration of the Central European Jewish culture in relation to its surrounding societies; and my present work, the Garden of Intimacy and Desire—I have attempted to minimalize or even destroy the word as an answer, a mask, or a pretense of the truth as a whole.
In the beginning of my work as a director, I attempted to use plays, albeit in adaptation, in combination with the intensive physical training I had learned from my teacher Rena Mirecka, the founding actress of Grotowski's Teatret Laboratorium. As I began to pursue this training on a full-time basis, and with the dedication of a permanent group, I came to the understanding that the [End Page 69] words of the play were a barrier, or wall, to the imagination, soul, and autonomy of the actor, and therefore to the creation of a living theatre. Later, from a place of creation beyond words, I also understood my work as the creation of a living culture, one which defines its own reality—or, as Barba put it, "a floating island." When I was still in the reality of words, or a previously created construct, the already provided answer of the words did not allow for the expansiveness of discovery of human potential, with all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that go along with this approach. To devise is deeper, more personal, and intimate, and ultimately demands a visceral investigation of content rather than another rehashing of forms. This process of creating a living culture, drawing upon the individual's autonomy and potential, upon genuine relations to the world and to each other, is what I consider to be the process of art. And art should not necessarily be confused with theatre, as they are not always synonomous.
I have spent my directing career dedicated to the investigation of this human potential. The ability and need to see through the many, many superficial and daily layers...