Finding Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Bialowieza Forest) is a collaborative theatre piece devised by American and Belarusian theatre artists.
Help us tour a new play to Vysehratky Theatre Festival in Prague, and the International Theatre Festival “Belaya Vezha” in Brest.
Chicago-based companies, Oracle Productions and Lucid Street Theatre, are collaborating with Belarusian artist Liubou Zhuromskaya (and others) from Theatre Rond to bring American artists to Minsk, Belarus, to devise a theatrical performance that combines regional folklore and performance theories from both countries.
We have received funding from Trust for Mutual Understanding for our trip to Minsk, but we have the opportunity to tour our piece to festivals in Prague and Brest. We need your help to tour this piece outside of Minsk.
A little background...
The American and international artists originally met through the International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State arranged by Meridian International Center. Lily Emerson, Founder of Lucid Street, developed a strong connection with Liubou. They began discussing a collaboration using found materials, folk tales and musical traditions from both cultures to devise an original piece. The subject of the devised piece is the fence (a literal iron curtain) that runs through the middle of the oldest European landmark: the Bialowieza Forest (Belovezhskaya Pushcha).
Lily worked with Ben Fuchsen, Executive Producer of Oracle, to secure funding for 4 America artists to travel and workshop a new piece.
Once in Minsk, Belarusian and American artists will spend two weeks hosting workshops and devising the piece at Theatre Rond. With your help, it will tour to the Vysehratky Theatre Festival in Prague, and the International Theatre Festival “Belaya Vezha” in Brest.
And...after all that practice, the Americans will remount the show in Chicago at Oracle’s Public Access Theatre!
The big why...
The arts can be a potent method for establishing and maintaining more positive connections between groups that may otherwise feel they have little common ground. The proposed cultural exchange is not only important for the artists directly involved, but also for audiences. Due to a continuously growing global communication network, as well as an interconnected global economy, Eastern Europeans and Americans are intrinsically tied. However, that cross-cultural connection is strained by dwindling resources and political challenges. Our collaboration will promote cross-cultural understanding through commonalities found in storytelling.
The Belarussian ambassadorship is composed of four artists from Chicago:
Ben Fuchsen is the Executive Producer of Oracle Productions, a public arts organization centered around the idea that no one should be denied access to art, for any reason. Oracle has given theatre and art away under its Public Access Theatre model seven days a week for the last year to all audiences, including nursing homes, homeless shelters, and retirement community. He will be creating statuesque tableau and archetypal movement for the piece; he is our eye in the sky.
Lily Emerson is a movement-based theater professional in Chicago and founder of Lucid Street Theatre that has specialized over the years in small, guerilla-troupe ensembles that have brought avante-garde theatre to the masses, wherever they are in Chicago. She is also the star of multiple one-woman movement explorations utilizing Butoh dance technique; she is our legs on the ground.
Charlie Malave is a multi-instrumentalist musician and composer who specializes in music from everyday components. He has been an integral member of multiple bands, including recently Schwinntonation, who create music from discarded bicycle parts. He is our ear turned with a smile.
Jackson King is a character performer who has worked with Oracle and Lucid Street theatre to great glee and a craftsman. He has worked with theatres and companies alike, most recently with RedBox Workshop, who build exhibits for children.
Our Squad will, along with Theatre Rond in Minsk, Belarus, create a devised theatrical piece. It will, in the style of Lucid Street Theatre, be movement based and, in the style of Oracle Theatre, be cogent and narrative. As part of the creative experience, the piece will be created from a skeleton to be created by either side, across the Atlantic, with several common themes. These themes will consist of most (but perhaps not all) of: multiple Belarussian and Ukrainian folk tales, Haudenausaunee (Iroquois area) legend, tales, and history, Archetypal Emergence, Semiotic Shadow-Play, Crude American Humor, and Gibberish. After creating the piece over 9 days, we will tour it in Minsk, Prague, and Brest.
The American artistic system is in serious danger of losing funding from all angles. Perhaps what is needed to reinvigorate the collective artistic mind, and therefore (potentially) revive the dire artistic investment in America, is to demonstrate what could possibly be done with a confluence of multiple artistic traditions. The Belarussians have a long and great artistic tradition, and the Native American artistic ideal is only now coming into focus for many in the States. A melding of these two cultures would surely mean a greater understanding between Hemispheres, at the very least.
pledged of $1,500 goal
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Aug 6, 2011 - Sep 1, 2011
Pledge $10 or more
A postcard and Belarusian candy from the troupe during our tour in Belarus and Prague.
Pledge $25 or more
A postcard and copies of all of the programs from the festivals at which we perform.
Pledge $50 or more
All of the above, plus a digital video copy of our performance.
Pledge $100 or more
All of the above, plus a digital video copy of our video journal, to be taken during our rehearsal and devising process and tour.
Pledge $250 or more
All of the above, plus one year Sponsorship Benefits to Oracle, which includes guaranteed seating in Public Access Theatre, invitations to private events, and much more.