Culture Lab

June, 2020
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The Participatory
Action Research

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8th March 2021No Comments

online laboratory and performance research – Fears of Everyday Life

How many cans of cola does hope take? Is a common catastrophe our greatest victory or our greatest defeat? What body position is needed to alleviate the world's fears? What protects you? Are you taking up the challenges? How to calm you down? Do you have any question? You know the answer? These and other questions were asked by the Young Theater and Social Laboratory during the online laboratory and performance research under the slogan FEARS OF EVERYDAY LIFE.
The fears of everyday life
World, country, estate, road, floor, room, human, body, mask, known, unknown, change.
Closeness, touch, air, smell, known, unknown, change.
I feel.
I don't feel.
I want to.
I don't want to.
I can.
I can not.
Known, unknown, change – meaning?

23rd February 2021No Comments

Experience of creative circles ind the spectacle on sensitive masculinity

Before our performance came to be, before The Boys Performative Group was formed, a bunch of men started meeting every week for a couple of hours. They would sit on the floor, in a circle and talk about manhood and its hardships. They shared their experiences of being socialized as boys. They talked about toxic masculinity. They wondered what it means to be a man in a semi-peripheral country. And soon... they would talk just about everything: their parents, sex, spirituality, relationships, work, and how much each of them earned. And it wasn't just talking – the men cried together, embraced each other, sat in silence, played basketball, improvised, sang, danced, lay on the floor, and ate, together.
And that is how the performance We wanted to talk about manhood, and we became friends was created.
I was one of those boys who had difficulties with their male identity. For a long time I’d rather speak of myself as “a person” rather than “a guy”. The identity of a guy didn’t sit well with me. This was changed by group therapy and by our guys' support group. Our empathetic men’s circle was full of emotional stories about repressed, cursed, stigmatized masculinity. These stories were also told through improvisations – with speaking, with movement, solo, and in groups. It was a months-long process of seeing one’s reflection in other guys and their lives. Of receiving and giving back.
The performance was built from our stories, our feelings, our beating hearts, and the tears we shed. We employed improvisation, free flow of ideas, and, finally, conversations where we shared how each of us felt about these artistic challenges. Three of us expressed a desire to be a director, but everyone was involved in the creative process. I remember these moments during rehearsals when the room was simply teeming with our collective creative energy. Everyone threw in ideas, comments, inspirations, solutions, and then all of a sudden we’d have created another scene. Nothing compares to my excitement and joy from this process. Here we were, a group of very different men who teamed up to create – often through heated debates – emotionally impactful scenes, joined in some sort of a frenetic dance. There was a fire burning inside of us that warmed the audience during the shows.
We didn’t expect the audience to react the way they did. Moments when we touched and embraced each other caused anxiety, even among seemingly “progressive” people. Somehow, radical leftists couldn’t bear this man-to-man tenderness, this tender masculinity, intimacy going beyond patriarchal norms. Each show ended with an hour-long conversation with the audience who finally had an opportunity – despite there being two interactive segments in the show – to share their feelings, opinions, and confessions about their male friends, fathers, and brothers.
We hang on what people say, and what they write in the chat – the performance takes place on Zoom, so everyone can share their admiration or disappointment about what's going on in real time. The last audience member says something to the camera and we say goodbye. But it isn’t over.
Our performance comes to life and brings hope.
It isn’t over, because there are two messages in our inbox: one person calls our performance vulgar, the other is outraged that nobody warned them about homosexual themes. We’re in this together. We support a queer person who is in our group and whose monologue about an unsupportive father was part of the show. We feel strong.
Joy. We feel joy. Satisfaction. Relief.
It’s time to rest. To dance. To lie down. Breathe. Robert. Tomek. Kamil. Paweł. Mateusz. Marcel. Grzesiek. Wojtek. Julian. Przemek. Mak.
Your names are those of feelings.
Text author: Tomasz Gromadka

16th February 2021No Comments

“We wanted to talk about manhood – we became friends” – online live performance

Couple of guys, more or less known to each other, but mainly unknown, formed a group - man circle. To talk about masculinity - what is it? Is it an essential category? We were a bit jealous of women because we knew they had already worked those topics out and they know what they want indeed and who they are. And we are a mile behind.
We started to talk to each other. We shared food, we gave each other safety. We talked about growing up, school, relations with parents. About abuse, dreams and sex. About being a boy and a guy in Poland. We created this space of intimate exchange, support, tenderness and vulnerability. Our performance shows where this group process took us. It is made from our words, touch and being together. We share our stories. We talk about what happened between us during this year.
“We wanted to talk about manhood - we became friends” is an innovative theatrical-performative project in which a group of men creates play about the experience of being a man. It is based on collective meetings and sharing personal stories of childhood, growing up and adulthood.
In our work we treat manhood as an intellectual concept which we deconstruct and reconfigure anew. We look at anxiety, violence, abuse, sense of community, sexuality and their connections to our diverse experience of masculinity. We consider the impact on modern men of traditional patriarchal and often toxic forms as well as of new versions of masculinity: open and adaptable which doesn’t require to be alfamale and gives total freedom in becoming who one wants to be. Our performance was collectively directed by three persons which is a good example of cooperation in opposition to extreme individualism so common in polish theatre which is a direct result of patriarchal values.

We enclose trailer:

creators // t w ó r c y _ c z y n i e:
THE BOYS PERFORMATIVE GROUP / Grupa Performatywna Chłopaki:
Rafał Aleksin
Robert Bigus
Kamil Błoch
Tomek Gromadka
Tomek J. Krynicki
Wojtek Mejor
Paweł Ogrodzki
Grzesiek Ryczywolski
Mateusz Wądrzyk
Marcel Bird-Wieteska
Julian Zubek
guest starring // z gościnnym udziałem:
Karolina Micuła
media and technical support // multimedia i obsługa techniczna:
Tomasz MakGajwer Grabowski
costumes // konsultacja kostiumograficzna:
Monika Skomra
music and sound // muzyka i dźwięki:
Aleksandra Badurska
Przemek Pstrongowski

26th January 2021No Comments

Online Performance ‘Lessons of Resistance’

April 2019. Polish teachers start a nationwide strike. Those who join the strike break the school system to a half. The society is divided. On one hand we have gestures of solidarity (supporting teachers in various ways) on the other - against acts of hostility (hate in social media). Teachers demand not only higher wages. The strike also stands for common values like dignity and demands the structural changes to the educational system.
Unfortunately, negotiations with the right-wing government fail. Support for the strike decreases among the society.
June. Summer break. The protest is suspended. Strike issues fade away. With the Covid-pandemia and the first lockdown the problems of the education system lose significance and fall into the background.
At this moment the Laboratory of Social Theater, a part of the Association of Social Pedagogues, starts working on a new performance about the strike - Lessons of Resistance.
We work using our own school memories and simultaneously collect teacher’s strike stories and transform them into pieces of art.
Scenario gets ready. The performance takes place in a former school building - located in the Center of Warsaw - the whole area is our stage.
Three weeks left to premiere.
November. The government bans all live public performances.
What should we do? Brainstorm. Decisions. Let’s do it on Zoom platform.
None of us know how. We do it for the first time. Euforia, trust, cooperation, compassion blends with doubts.
Time goes by. Common lunches and quick walks with the dog between rehearsals. Gimbals. Gigabytes. Strike banners. Promotion tools. Dec. the 15th 2020, day of the premiere. Final recordings and last scenography production.
Please wait till the host will let you in.
More than a hundred participants join us in each of the three days of performing Lessons of Resistance. Audience listens to a story of the strike for over an hour and half, and stays with us way longer to share experiences after. Some teachers say: thanks for this sign of solidarity, we’ve been waiting for this kind of support. We are the school. We all.
The performance Lessons of Resistance was live transmitted on zoom platform. It has been screened in more than three hundred home computers, laptops or other electronic devices.