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Since its inception, the Theatre Confrontations Festival has undermined and exploded the limits of theatre, plotting out new ways of thinking about its role, meaning, and primary objectives. Established 20 years ago by the founders of the Lublin theatre avant-garde: Janusz Opryński, Włodzimierz Staniewski, and Leszek Mądzik, the festival has from its outset sought solutions and ideas distinct from those which prevail in mainstream theatre, in this way proving that the dramatic theatre model is not the only conceivable one. Confrontations is a festival rooted in the tradition of independent, avant-garde, political theatre, and it continues to seek out such theatre to this day. Assuming as it does that what happens at the intersections of limits, divides, genres, domains, and disciplines is the most interesting, the festival persists in its attempts to broaden the formula of theatre, highlighting the non-obvious spaces between various arts. At the same time, Confrontations poses questions on the responsibility of artists, taking up the topical issue of the working conditions of artists and art workers and the system of production of art, which determines these conditions.

 

The 20th anniversary edition of the festival will begin with the presentation of Eyal Weiser?s How?s the Beast? (7 October 2015, 7 pm and 9 pm, Centrum Kultury), created in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Israel to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Israeli-German diplomatic relations. The artists wish to examine the normalization process between Israel, Germany, and Poland, as well as the various collective narratives which have crystallized in these countries since World War II. Once they realised the fictitiousness and manipulation of these narratives, they decided to challenge them to expose them for what they were, i.e. nothing more than political theatre.

 

Magdalena and Ludomir Franczak?s performative installation Breathing mountain will be presented in the former Jewish district of Lublin (8-9 October 2015, hours will vary). The installation evokes history in a living form instead of adopting a safe distance of a showcase that locks the world that disappeared and will never return.

 

One of the strands in this year?s programme is Decency Clause prepared in collaboration with Joanna Krakowska. In 1990, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an agency of the American government established in 1965 to support arts and culture, rejected to pay four previously awarded grants to a group of artists on account of the supposedly indecent content of their work. The NEA?s decision was founded on the ?decency clause? adopted by the US Congress, which obliged the NEA to consider both artistic and moral aspects of art. In this case, ?indecency? included feminist and queer works of art. Holly Hughes, one of the ?NEA Four?, will present her performance Clit Notes on 15 October 2015 (9 pm, Centrum Kultury). Lesbian collective Split Britches (Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw), famous for their Belle Reprieve based on Tennessee Williams? Streetcar Named Desire, will show their RUFF (15-16 October, 7:30 pm, Centrum Kultury) and What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex (17 October, 9 pm, Centrum Kultury). The artists will be joined by exquisite performer, activist and one of Andy Warhol?s stars Penny Arcade, who will engage Lublin-based performers in her B!D!F!W! (13-14 October, 9 pm, Centrum Kultury).

 

Famous Belgian Needcompany will present the latest performance by Jan Lauwers titled Blind Poet (18 October, 6 pm, ACK Chatka Żaka), created in collaboration with composer Maarten Seghers. The artists treated the performers? family trees as a starting point for a story rooted in various nationalities, cultures and languages. Pondering over identity in present-day Europe, Lauwers goes back a thousand years to quote Abu al ?ala al Ma?arri, a blind Arab poet from the turn of the 10th and 11th c., and Wallada bint al Mustakfi, 11th c. Andalusian poet. Their works exalt the time when women were in power and atheism was a commonly accepted phenomenon; Paris was a provincial hamlet and Charlemagne passed as an illiterate ignoramus. The performance will be preceded by the screening of Ana Brzezińska?s documentary on Needcompany I want (no) reality (18 October, 4 pm, Centrum Kultury). The film is a personal story on the thirst for art and the price one pays for it, as well as the search for the long-forgotten secrets of good life. 

 

Headlining the 20th edition of Theatre Confrontation will be Xavier Le Roy who returns to the festival to present his three-part piece Untitled (14 October 2015, 7:30 pm, Centrum Kultury). In each part of the piece, the artists remove the factors producing the habitual relationship between spectators and actors, which are no longer self-evident and must therefore be re-negotiated and redefined. Each of the pieces hinges on the loss, disappearance, or death of an essential protagonist. The words and actions are motivated by the need to reconstruct with the remaining elements rather than to set out and find or replace what?s missing. The actors and the public are then engaged in mourning and conversations whose transformations try to turn melancholy, loss, or death into driving forces.

 

Detailed information on the events:

 

Eyal Weiser, How?s the Beast?

Magdalena i Ludomir Franczak, Breating Mounain

Penny Arcade, B!D!F!W!

Xavier Le Roy, Untitled

Holly Hughes, Clit Notes

Split Britches, RUFF

Split Britches, What Tammy Needs To Know About Getting Old And Having Sex

Ana Brzezińska, I want (no) reality

Jan Lauwers & Needcompany, The Blind Poet

 

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