X-apartments: short plays in people's homes in Warsaw
July 9, 2010
After touring Germany, Turkey, Venezuela and Brazil, the interactive theatre project debuts in eastern Europe. Courtesy of the
Nowy Teatr Warsaw
, the various pitstops in private apartments afford a different view of the capital and the crisis, whilst using the capital as an inspiration
Three heterogeneous parts of Warsaw - Mokotow, Mirow and Brodno - serve as the backdrop for a series of short plays staged in private apartments. They are pitstops for the audience who must follows directions through the neighbourhoods to reach the next station
X-apartments is a concept by Matthias Lilienthal. It has been produced in several European and non-European cities, including Berlin, Caracas, Duisburg, Istanbul and Sao Paulo. The Polish edition in June 2010, produced by Zuza Sikorska
and the NOWY TEATR in collaboration with the Hebbel-am-Ufer theatre in Berlin, was its debut performance in eastern Europe
The artists, architects, filmmakers, theatre directors or musicians invited to interpret the project are asked to create a situation constrained by two parameters. Time, since each play cannot exceed ten minutes in length, and space, since each performance must take place within a given private space. In this play, the performers invite the audience to participate in their christmas preparations, such as carol singing. The artistic directors are Stefanie Peter, Anne Schulz, Joanna Warsza
Artists often toy with spectators’ expectations: the intimacy of the settings allow active participation on the part of the audience. In this play, the actor tries to sell life insurance to the onlookers
Street art has been a fundamental movement since the 1960s. The X-Apartments project reverses this mode of viewing art by inviting the viewer into the domestic spaces of Poles in Warsaw. Here, the performers prepare a sandwich that they kindly offer the audience at the end of the play
Mirow has a diverse history and varied topography, including traces of the Jewish Ghetto from the second world war, ruins that followed and modern imposing skyscrapers. The six different plays that composed the Mirow section of the project captured the diversity of the neighbourhood by being set in different kinds of buildings. This pre-war building stands in stark contrast to the glass buildings that tower over the area
Some of the performances explore the theme of the history of the Polish capital and of its renewal. This project takes spectators two by two through a guided tour of an abandoned apartment, with headphones guiding them by means of a poetic text on remembrance
In some cases, the apartments employed as stages were completely overhauled. Here, the actors have fixed tubes all over the living room and blocked out the windows in order to make it as dark as possible and to be able to perform against a video screen
Other plays delve into the very idea of performance. Here, spectators watch an American film. An actor simultaneously reads the script in Polish, creating an unsettling multiplicity of layers for the audience to focus on.
The sixteen plays that make up the three circuits of 'X-Apartments' manage to create a number of artistic experiences for the audience: from outright participation, to voyeuristic moments, including insights into daily life in Warsaw. The plays altogether challenge the audience to look at the city through a poetic lens, though more people could be aware of the project itself
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