EU Collective Plays
Kort om prosjektet
THE COLLECTIVE PLAYS! aims at promoting the creation of plays which are the result of a collaboration of playwrights of different nationalities.
The playwrights meet and cooperate to create a narrative structure which is organic but at the same time incorporates different perspectives, styles, languages and idioms.
In this dimension, the final play’s draft is entrust to one playwright who never tries to homologate the different styles but, on the contrary, tries to highlight their contrasts by creating a collective narrative structure which resembles a cubist painting.
- Promoting international cooperation between playwrights and theatre organizations of different nationalities in the creation and staging of collective plays in order to internationalize and/or strengthen their international reputation, careers and activities at a European and global level
- Testing an enlargement of theatre audience by the diffusion of narratives characterized by “internal dialogism”
- Stimulating the interest of audiences in European creative works by enlarging the idea of European citizenship through polyphonic plays
- Testing new forms of manageable transnational theatre groups and productions
- Staging showcase of Collective Plays within an important European Festivals
Prosjektleder hos KHiO: Gianluca Iumiento
Mer informasjon: www.eucollectiveplays.eu
Forming the artistic committee
In 2015, Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo (KHiO) initiated a series of meetings wherein we analyzed the logistics of the different tasks associated with our participation in the EU Collective Plays project. KHiO, like many similar institutions, possessed sufficient administrative resources to administer the European project; however, at the time, we did not have a specialized department with the specific competence to successfully bring the project to fruition.
In our first meetings, we attempted to separate the tasks between outright administrative tasks and artistic tasks. We decided that Merit Kristiansen, who is in charge of accounting at KHiO, would take charge of the financial documentation of the project.
In August 2015, we established an artistic committee designed to discuss Castagno's theories and ideas around Polyvocality, and then to subsequently administer the different workshops that comprise the EU Collective Plays project. The committee includes Gianluca Iumiento (playwright, actor, and director), Øystein Stene (novelist, playwright, director, and dramaturg), Jesper Halle (playwright), and Tale Næss (playwright and dramaturg). The group gathers periodically to read plays and to discuss them within the framework of Polyvocality.
The selected plays discussed come not only from projects that the four committee members are developing in their individual artistic practices but also from the tradition of plays written in the northern European countries.
The committee's goal is to discuss how the polyvocal playwriting develops within the framework of Scandinavian theater, how directors respond to polyvocal texts in practice, how both actors and directors read polyvocal plays, and finally, what strategies are implemented to stage polyvocal material. The committee held meetings at KHiO, in Denmark (in 2016), and it has had a continuing dialogue concerning the numerous activities of the EU Collective Plays project.
Master's Projects on Dialogism and Polyvocality
The Master's Degree Theatre students at KHiO – including directors, actors, playwrights, set designers, and costume designers – engaged in an eight-week workshop, guided by Jesper Halle and Petter Width Kristiansen, where they discussed the theories of Polyvocality and dialogism. Using the practical exercises from Castagno's book, New Playwright Strategies, they developed three texts, which they then staged at the end of the workshop.
The resulting projects discussed Polyvocality as a result of the interaction between the different theatrical entities: The writers reacted to the room created by the set designers, the actors transformed the text through improvisation, the directors practically developed new versions using device techniques that the writers then implemented into the already existing plays.
At the conclusion of the eight-week project, the students debuted the plays for public audiences at KHiO, with free admission. The three shows were:
"Speiderjenter" (Girl Scouts) written by Hanne Ramsdal; directed by Ludvig Uhlbors; with actors Sarah Macdonald Berge, Karin Klouman, and Tarjei Westby; costume design by Matilda Söderling; and set design by Tora Troe Gudmunsen.
“Kauk,” a musical written by Siri Broch Johansen; directed by Martin Lotherington; with actors Arturo Tovar, Lina Hindrum, and Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfinnsen; and set design of Signe Gerda Landfald.
“Alekanuk” (Wrong Place) written by Maja Bohne Johnsen; directed by Eirik Fauske; with actors Kjersti Aas Stenby and Morten Espeland; and set design by Mari Lotherington.
In May 2016, we had our first workshop centered on "Hybrid Plays."
We selected three plays written by established playwrights from Norway, Italy, and Montenegro, and we asked three young writers, each under 30 years old, to write new versions of the existing work. The goal was to create an active dialogism process between two writers of two different nations, and across two generations.
Our goal was to answer the questions: How does one adapt a play from one cultural and social context to another? What specific adaptations are required to convert the spoken dialogue into a new language?
Each writer responded to the task in different ways. One writer developed and wrote an imaginative dialogue between the original playwright and herself. Others wrote completely new scenes inspired by the events and characters of the original play.
The first title the workshop explored was "Who the Hell Started All This" (The Hurtling Stillness) written by Dejan Dukovski, then rewritten in Norwegian by Agate Øksendal Kaupang. The play was directed by Øystein Ulsberg Brager with actors Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfinnsen, Sarah Macdonald Berge, Lina Hindrum, Karin Margrethe Klouman, Kjersti Aas Stenby, Arturo Tovar and Tarjei Westby.
After a dramatic reading of the text, Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento moderated a debate about Polyvocality and Hybrid Plays with both the audience and the artists involved. We used this opportunity to disseminate central aspects described by Paul Castagno in his book to the audience about the topic of Hybrid Plays.
That same performance of "Who the Hell Started All This" was further workshopped by some of the actors, without the original director, in August 2016. In this further version, the actors that continued to work on "Who the Hell Started All This" were Tarjei Westby, Karin Klouman, Sarah Macdonald Berge, and Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfissen, and the work was directed during the second workshop by Arturo Tovar.
The resulting staging crafted during the second workshop was shown at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, Italy, during the OUTIS Tramedautore festival on Saturday the 17th, September 2016. Gianluca Iumiento worked as the project's dramaturg during our time in Milan.
The second Hybrid Plays project was "Fritiden eller mørke er lys," rewritten by Jovana Bojovic from Gian Maria Cervo's original play, "The Free Time." The text was adapted into Norwegian by Jon Kværne. The project was staged at KHiO in October 2017, directed by Herman Bernhoft, with actors Olavus Frostad Udbye and Petter Winther Gåre.
The show was followed by a debate between the Italian author Gian Maria Cervo, the artists involved, and the audience about Polyvocality and Hybrid Plays. This debate was moderated by Gianluca Iumiento.
The third Hybrid Plays project was "Da Saltet ikke var den eneste krystallen," rewritten by Joele Anastasi based on Jesper Halle's play Lille Skogen. The text was adapted from the original Italian into Norwegian by Nelly Winterhalder.
The show took place in Oslo at KHiO in October and was directed by Nelly Winterhalder, with actors Maria Omarsdottir Austgulen, Kim Jøran Olsen, Eva Ragnhild Jørgensen Tysse, Ragnhild Meling Enoksen, Leo Magnus de la Nuez, and Kristine Cornelie Margrete Hartgen.
During August 2016, KHiO master's degree acting students traveled to Viterbo, Italy, to devise three new plays. The actors worked with three writers: Tale Næss, Nelly Winterhalder, and Maja Bohne Johnsen. These three plays were staged collectively under the title, The Moai Project. The show played in different locations in Vitorchiano (VI), Italy.
Moai was a site-specific project, where three different playwrights wrote three unique texts starting from a common theme and using three connected locations in the same town. In the end, the show was staged as a single performance where the audience moved from one place to another perceiving the differences between the dialogues and texts, the acting styles, and the locations.
The three texts presented were:
"Sfuggendo" written by Maja Bohne Johnsen, with actors Karin Klouman, Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfissen, and Tarjei Westby.
"Corridors and Rooms" written by Tale Næss, with actress Sarah Macdonald Berge.
"Per alltid slutter altid" written by Nelly Winterhalder, with actors Arturo Tovar and Lina Hindrum.
The Moai Project was co-produced with the Festival Quartieri dell'Arte in Viterbo. The festival was responsible for most of the video, photographs, attendance tracking, and web documentation for the event.
Det er Ales
In September 2016, the Festival Quartieri dell'Arte di Viterbo also co-produced the project, Det er Ales. The show premiered in Italy, in both Norwegian and Italian. Following the performance in Viterbo, Det er Ales played at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. The project was directed by Gianluca Iumiento based on Jon Fosse's novel of the same name.
The novel was adapted for the stage by Maria Sand. Maria works using techniques from Castagno's book to deconstruct and recombine the text from literature forms to theatrical forms. The result is an engaging Polyvocal text where the characters talk to each other exclusively in the third person.
"Det er Ales" was co-produced with Det Norske Teatret in Oslo where it was later performed in Italian by Gianluca Iumiento, Maria Sand, and Daniela Giordano; and in Norwegian, by Maria Sand, Elisabeth Sand and Oddgeir Thune.
The play joined the Det Norske Teatret repertory from January 2017 until the end of May 2017.
Darkness – The Enemy Inside
During the fall of 2016, KHiO established the writing group, the Nordic Group, to produce a Polyvocal text titled, Darkness – The Enemy Inside. The group was composed of five playwrights: Tale Næss (head writer and dramaturg), Gianluca Iumiento, Sigbjørn Skåden, Kristin Eriksdottir, and Albert Ostermeier.
The group also collaborated with some external dramaturgs with competence in different languages, since our authors intend to produce texts in five different languages: Norwegian, Sami, Icelandic, German, and Italian. Daniela Giordano and Øystein Stene are among the external dramaturgs that will give feedback on the group's texts.
The group met at KHiO the first time in December 2016 to kick off the writing project.
The Free Time
As a part of the 2016 activities, KHiO was also co-producing a performance of “The Free Time” written by Gian Maria Cervo and the Presnyakov Brothers. KHiO has financed the Presnyakov Brothers fee and a part of the expenses related to their writing activity with Gian Maria Cervo. Documentation of the authors' meetings in Italy was taken by the Festival Quartieri dell'Arte in Viterbo. KHiO continued in a co-producer function in 2017 and 2018.
KHiO has also participated in co-founding and administration of a writing competition dedicated to the memory of Matteo Latino. Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento participated in the selection of the texts and their authors that won the contesting, and KHiO supported the event financially.
In November 2016, KHiO hired Rose-Marie Aker as Personal Assistant of Gianluca Iumiento, administrative coordinator of the activities of KHiO within EU COLLECTIVE PLAYS and further Producer of Oslo International Acting Festival.
Rose took the place of Robin Rigels within the project.
Darkness – The Enemy Inside
The Nordic Group continued to meet several times in 2017 to write and further develop their texts. The first meeting was in Reykjavik in February 2017. The meeting was hosted by the City Theater of Reykjavik where the group received a room and facilities to work and write.
During the trip to Reykjavik, KHiO introduced the project to one of the theater's resident dramaturgs. As a result of this residency in Iceland, the City Theater had shown interest to produce a short reading and performance of the play "Darkness – The Enemy Inside" in the Icelandic language.
The Nordic Group met again in Oslo in May 2017, and for the first time, playwright, Albert Ostermaier personally attended.
The Free Time, workshop
The latest meeting of the Nordic Group was in Oslo in August 2017. During this meeting, the Nordic Group had the opportunity to exchange dialogue and ideas with the group writing "The Free Time," since both Gian Maria Cervo and the Presnyakov Brothers were present in Oslo workshopping their play.
On August 28th, KHiO organized a reading and presentation of parts of the text for "The Free Time." The exhibition was open to the public and was followed by a debate moderated by Gianluca Iumiento. Actress Sarah MacDonald Berge performed the reading during the event. We used this opportunity to discuss Polyvocality with both the Presnaykov Brothers and Gian Maria Cervo, and the writers from the Nordic Group, and fostered an ongoing debate between the two writing teams.
During January and February 2018 Tale Næss, in her functions as head writer, assembled the first final draft of the play Darkness - the enemy inside. Tale Næss as head-writer gave different tasks to the other authors and during fall 2017 each playwright worked separately on developing blocks of text. The frame for the writing was a peninsula in the suburb area of a capital city like Nesodden in Oslo. This geographical space is the engine that contains and chains together all sorts of plots and sub-plots in the story. After her first final draft, the other writers of the Nordic group left the active part of the project, letting Tale Næss in her function of dramaturg and head writer work on the next revisions of the play.
During the period February 2018 and Mai 2018 Gianluca Iumiento and Øystein Stene gave talks, lectures and disseminate around the ideas of polyvocality in several Norwegian cultural institutions such as Kilden Teatret in Kristiansand, Polski Teatr in Poland and Mediefabrikken in Oslo.
In May 2018 KHIO received the visit of screenwriter and horror expert Christopher Sean Larson from Laos and USA. Larson conducted a two-day workshop on polyvocal film writing and on the issues of hybrid film genres.
At the end of the workshop, KHIO had the screening of his last film "Dearest sister" wrote for director Mattie Do, and open to the audience.
Here you can find the link to watch the debate with Christopher Larson:
During June the 2nd and June the 10th Gianluca Iumiento and Øystein Stene artistically curated a festival under the name of Oslo International Acting Festival - OIAF. The event was produced by Rose Marie Aker, and it took place in the facilities of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. The festival was in its fourth edition, and it focused entirely on polyvocality.
Here is the link to the main page of the festival website:
This is the text Gianluca Iumiento and Øystein Stene used to present the festival:
THE POLYVOCAL ACTOR
Actors and actresses are presently surrounded by unique narratives in which different elements of the story are often in conflict with each other. They play roles and characters full of contradictions. It's becoming increasingly difficult for actors and actresses to grasp the essence of the human beings they play by searching for the "core" of the role. Film and theater writing are increasingly reflecting a world that is complex and ambiguous.
How does an actor or actress work to represent humanity in such a complex scenario?
The 2018 edition of the Oslo International Acting Festival will explore the effect on an actor or actress when theater and film writing experiments with form, continuity, and character. A human being, as a fictional figure, can be understood today as a polyvocal construct – the role speaks from different places inside itself. The part possesses different goals, often in opposition to each other. The character consists of different themes.
The festival will investigate: How classic text work can be used with new contemporary drama, how actors and directors can discover new reading strategies when the traditional approaches stop working, how an actor or actress can act as a dramaturg on stage, and what tools the stage performer has for developing new texts.
The festival has gathered some of the most prominent teachers in the field of polyvocality.
To discuss the themes of evolving polyvocality, the festival curators, invited Tale Næss, Paul C. Castagno, Lars Erik Holte, Fredrik Høyer, Mariken Halle, Tomi Janezic and Mi Elfverson.
The activities of the festival consisted of two main parts: Congress and workshops. In the morning, experts met in front of an audience and discussed problems raised during the development of polyvocal theater, while in the afternoon, the participants attended separate workshops lead by each one of the invited guests.
Here is the link to the youtube channel where you can watch all the videos from the festival:
At the same time, KHIO organized under OIAF its own general assembly of EU collective plays!
Each partner of the project was present in Oslo, and for two days we discussed the achievements of the project, the future activities, the making of the polyvocal magazine and the challenges with administrating the financial reports.
As a contribution to the festival, each partner performed some readings of the plays written under the EU collective. This constituted the evening program of the festival.
You can watch these readings on youtube at these links:
Leaves, Forteresse Belgium:
Removed, Prime cut productions, Ireland:
Moving mountains, FOPSIM Malta:
Aftertalk Leaves, Removed and Moving Mountains:
Open reading Free time, Russia/Italy (Presnyakov brothers and Gian Maria Cervo):
Other events organized and curated by OIAF included the reading of “Darkness - the enemy inside,” to which Paul C. Castagno assisted to give his feedback to the writers Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento, so that they could improve the writing before the staging of the play in USA directed by Paul C. Castagno. The reading at KHIO was directed by Gianluca Iumiento and includes the use of video material.
You can watch the reading at this link:
Under the same festival week, Øystein Stene's new novel "De opplyste" was released and was presented to the audience. The book uses polyvocal techniques and experiments with multiple voices in prose. It was well received by critics.
During the festival's last two days, Bruno Fornasari and Tommaso Amadio, from the theater Filodrammatici of Milan, lead the 24hours theater stunt under the name of "Fakta Faen!"
In this theater concept, polyvocal writing meets devising techniques to create ten-minutes performances in 24 hours. The final result was shown at Drammatikkens hus in Oslo on the last night of the festival.
During the same night, Paul C. Castagno received the pedagogical award from the festival organizers for his achievements and contributions to the teaching of playwriting.
During summer 2018, Tale Næss worked on translating "Darkness - the enemy inside" into the Norwegian language. By doing this, she shorted the play to create a stage version that Dutch director Jacob Schokking directed at KHIO with third-year acting students.
The shorter version of Darkness went under the title of "Øya," the island.
Shokking directed the play adding impressive video installations, and the show played for the audience at stage three during October 2018.
You can watch the entire play by pressing this link:
The performance was well received, and the Academy organized an open talk after the last show moderated by Dean Victoria Meirik where two of the playwrights were present, Tale Næss and Sigbjørn Skåden.
You can watch the debate by pressing this link:
After the staging of the KHIO version of Darkness, Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento agreed on the final adjustments and delivered the final version of Darkness to Paul C. Castagno.
Castagno is curating a new anthology, published by Routledge, about polyvocality where he explores the results of EU collective plays! In this anthology will be released some of the texts written under the European project, and Darkness is among them.
NovemberOslo – Film and Polyvocality
During the year 2018, Gianluca Iumiento and Para-film, a Norwegian production company, worked on the post-production of the film "NovemberOslo." The movie was previously shot and produced by KHIO, Mediefabrikken, and Para-film and it's directed by Gianluca Iumiento with third-year acting students in the title roles. Gianluca Iumiento, with the supervision of experienced film director Erik Gustavson, assembled a new cut of the film experimenting with polyvocal techniques in film editing. The strategies described by Paul C. Castagno can definitely be applied to film editing and screenwriting. In film editing, the approaches of polyvocality are definitely opening to new ways to create plots, characters, and story. The film gets a new life, changing prospective from moment to moment, shifting between different characters in the lead. This technique proved to be successful, and the film is ready to be released in June 2019.
Seneca “Hybrid workshop”
During the period December 2018 - January 2019 Gianluca Iumiento lead a workshop with actors from the BA program inside Det Norske Teatret that goes under the name of Multinorske.
In this workshop, Iumiento worked on Latin playwright Seneca. The goal was to find new interpretations of Seneca by reading Seneca with polyvocal techniques. After studying different problems connected to the translations of Seneca from Latin together with Latin expert Carla Innesti, Iumiento explored the play "Phaedra," and using exercises from the interaction technique was able to help the students approach old classics in a new way.
Publication and dissemination
In the meantime, "Darkness - the enemy inside" was translated in German by Uwe Englert, in Norwegian by Tale Næss, in Italian by Maria Sand and Gianluca Iumiento, in Icelandic by Kristínu Eiríksdóttur and in Sapmi by Elle Mari Dunfjell.
The five translations are published by KHIO in a book designed by Lukas Lehner.
During spring 2019, Rose-Marie Aker produced the POLY MAGAZINE.
The journal was edited by Gianluca Iumiento and gathers several articles about polyvocality written by Gianluca Iumiento, Øystein Stene, Tale Næss, Tomi Janezic, Gian Maria Cervo, Jesper Halle, Paul C. Castagno, and Joyce Grech.
The magazine is printed by KHIO and distributed both nationally and internationally, and it's designed by Thomas Karlsen.
Read Poly here (pdf).
The last general assembly
In March 2019 Rose-Marie Aker and Gianluca Iumiento traveled to Belfast to attend the general assembly organized by Prime Cut Productions. During the stay in Belfast, they saw the performance "Removed" produced as part of the EU collective plays! while Gianluca Iumiento participated in a discussion panel about polyvocality at the National Academy of the Arts in Belfast.
Concluding the EU collective plays!
In April 2019 KHIO and Teatro Stabile Delle Arti Medioevali in Viterbo co-produced the play "The cruelest man."
The show took place in Viterbo and worked as the final activity for the four-year collaboration between KHIO and Teatro Stabile Delle Arti Medioevali.
The play was staged using polyvocal techniques where different genres interacted together on stage through the use of sound design and masks.
The text was performed in the Orsini medieval palace of Bomarzo, and it's written by Gian Maria Cervo, and directed by Gianluca Iumiento.
Other credits include actors Luigi Cosimello, Yoris Petrillo, Cesare Ceccolongo, Pino Censi, and Anna Paola Vellaccio, with the exceptional contribution of Gennaro Cosmo Parlato. Rose-Marie Aker was assistant director while Christin Vahl and Sebastian Ellrich created costumes and designs.
Technical support was curated by Stefano Berti and photo and production by Andrea Lombardini.
You can watch the show pressing the following link:
Eu collective plays! was a unique artistic research project produced and realized by KHIO together with Teatro Stabile Delle Arti Medioevali in Viterbo, Montenegrin Royal Theatre Zetski Dom, Associazione La Gramigna in Italy, La Furas Dels Baus in Spain, FORTeRESse in Belgium, Prime Cut Productions in the UK, and Foundation for the Promotion of Social Inclusion of Malta.
It involved workshops, lectures, seminars, international writing groups, theater readings, various theater performances, and films.
It has contributed to spreading the ideas of Polyvocality among docents, students and researchers at KHIO and in the Norwegian theater.