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All week long three of the team from The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards have been putting our theatre kids through a marathon of a workshop, hosted by my friend (and our school’s rockstar drama instructor) Jesus Quintero.  Jesus is the director of the newly-founded American Laboratory Theatre, which you should definitely check out and which I could not be more excited about.

Tonight I got to attend a showing of their work, which you can only see at private events and with members of the Workcenter team there to protect the work.  Their work places emphasis on “art as vehicle” and continues Grotowski’s idea that the performing arts are a chain or continuum, with “art as vehicle” on one end, and “art as presentation” on the other.  On the “art as vehicle” side of the chain, workers direct their actions to one another and it changes them and the energy of the piece as we look on, but it is not spectacle, nor is its purpose presentation.  Rather, the purpose, if one can use the word (and in this case, “one” is me, and I say I can) is the exchange and transformation of energy between the players.  In changing the energy of the spaces around them, the workers can access a place where memory transcends time and becomes ancestral.  That is, in the action, the current and exchange of energy brings the workers to shared moments of humanity.  One might reach an emotion that feels like her grandmother must’ve felt, for example, and the action on stage acts as a sort of metaphysical wormhole, in which the voices of our cells begin to speak.

In the piece we saw tonight, “Action”–In Aya Irini,  (Hagia Irene), players sang, danced, moved, rejoiced, wept, and I think died and saw God, in an ancient turkish cathedral with astounding acoustics.  I got to thinking about those moments of essence, when I look at my child with such awe that I feel I’m looking not only with my eyes, but with the eyes of my ancestors, my tribe, and my amoebazoa.  I’m going to do my best to step into that current of energy and see what happens.  Jerzy Grotowski wouldn’t want me to overthink this one (see, I’m not so lazy after all. I’m practicing a process!), so I’m going to try to direct my action onto the page without thought to you, my poem people, and let this vehicle take me where it will. Happy Friday!

Aya Irini 

A pillar candle lit in a bowl in a Turkish monastery,
 the sign of the father is a moment and a repose, and

all the left behind stories come to join us in our hands as they clap in time with our feet and our voices.

Each time a heel is raised for the yahoo valoo, it is set down again in a different space, and we are moved to the next stop

on an itinerary of energy as it connects us in

this current of recognition.

Six bodies with feet upon the stone,

One player delights in channeling demon children, and another loses a brother, then all dance, until another sees the face of God,

and then they dance again.

There is a gourd, for shaking, but also for passing

on the transformation,

a red scarf,

and three more white candles that will be blown out by both deities

and us.

Head to the floor in a cathedral can be a pose of the desperate whole,

or of peace cool against the forehead,

Now they dance again!

Faster now, with palms of victory and their faces threaten to leave the earth but their feet remain

aqueducts to ancestry.

Now he trembles! God’s terrible face makes his body spasm in terror,

but in the end he laughs and that laughter is the laughter of his grandmother when she was a child and her brother chased her around the yard with a toad, threatening to put it down her dress.

Now they sing!

and in the song there are many voices,

The sweat on their backs happened here a long time ago,


There goes the fear,

outside of the frame a bird calls out because he has seen that perspiration on the backs of the devoted,

and they invoked him with their Action.

Now they go!

beckoning the seated passersby to leave the space,

the rocks in place,

but changed.


The Aya Irini (interior where the piece was worked on)

and outside:

 SO going there someday.