Between reality and imagination, a report of the ACT workshop11/06/2015 By IYMA

How does a performance about a personal theme or based on a personal experience come to life? How does an idea for a performance arise? What are the starting points? What are the possibilities? How can we make these personal feelings and thoughts tangible? Creating a performance, you start from your reality or the reality of your idea?

These are questions Mokhallad Rasem deals with in his work  He worked at the National Theatre of Iraq before the war changed the course of his life. Now he is resident director at Het Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Belgium. His career has been quite successful. He won the 2013 Young Director’s award at the Saltzburger Festspiele for Romeo & Juliet. During ACT Festival he performed ‘Waiting’, a show on the act of waiting.  Besides performing he also created a workshop voor ACT Festival 2015.

On June the fourth a group of young emerging artists came together in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa. They followed the workshop of Rasem and dealt with questions such as: How do you then seek the boundary between that reality and fantasy or imagination? How do you mix this reality with imagination to make a performance come to life?

Rasem his productions are built on the same principles as a crossword puzzle. He sees the crossword puzzle as the mind of the director containing all his thoughts, well ordered according the system of the game. This game is ingeniously constructed, with horizontal and vertical elements. The horizontal elements are the tangible, concrete elements, reality as it were. The vertical elements are the elements of the imagination.

Humor, play, bodily sensations, dreams, works of art and religious images can stimulate the power of our imagination. All these phenomena can transport us into a situation in which the self-evident world gives way to the experience of something new and surprising.
Therefore his workshop starts off with an improvisation session.

The participants were given exercises to warm up the body and to stimulate the imagination. The exercises are based on spontaneity, positivism, playfulness, daring and concentration. After which they will be asked to draw emotions and situations arising from these exercises.
Where is the balance between imagination and reality when dealing with these themes? Starting from the empty space we begin composing images. The drawings that were made in part one of the work-shop can be an inspiration to help us create these images.

The participants found the workshop very inspiring. An participant said: “I have a lot of imagination, but I can loose myself in there. As an artist I sometimes struggle to find a way out of my head to the stage and the theatre. It helped me a lot to let my imagination be artificial with a reality theme underneath” The methodology of Rasem provided the possibility for freedom and created a so called ‘no space’ which gave more peace of mind and enabled you to think of ideas around universal themes.