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BB – Two Stories with Two Ends

The physical theatre Debris Company is a group that occupies a unique position in the Slovak theatre scene. Not only because of their many-year, intense production, but also for the capacity of their members not to stagnate and to constantly expand the boundaries of their creativity, poetics and style. Those usually lay in a combination of music, dance, light, stage design and a strong message and what matters even more, on their coordination.

Wobbly Lives

In the past two premiere productions – Cradles and Epic the Debris Company inclined more toward a narrative form, which became reflected also in the team of creators. Dancers were joined by drama actors, in Cradles the latter even prevail. The original play by Jana Bednárová Cradles with the subheading of "battlezone" or battle field, is "a metaphor for polarities", as the author herself explains in the production’s bulletin. Four characters – Young Woman, Old Woman, Man and Crazy Soldier move in the captivity of life’s contradictions. They live in the present moment, yet at the same time they cannot get rid of the past, by birth, but also by the experience of death, by youth and old age, hope and disillusions. Their basic characters are determined by their affiliation to male and female worlds, inclination toward love and hatred. It was these basic lines of the content level that the Debris Company took from the originally extensive text of Jana Bodnárová. For their staging they have considerably shortened and adapted the play. The result is a radical modification and adaptation of the work into dance, almost wordless theatre.

In Cradles, director Jozef Vlk and choreographer Stanislava Vlčeková wobbled and played out the most important relational situations in the play. Stage design by Tom Ciller and projections by Alex Zelina, which filled the empty stage, had both been designed to match the purpose.

In Cradles, projections do not function as a formal, colour-changing element. Their effectiveness and visual impressiveness cannot be denied, but unlike the empty visual gesture, they perfectly correspond with the actions of the characters. The lighting installations suggest both the distribution of characters and changes in their relationships.

The first part takes place in semidarkness; on the stage, several precisely determined spots are lit up successively, and there we get to meet the characters. The spots are at the same time the only fixed points in the unsteady lives of the heroes of Cradles. In the second part the stage is lit by a projection – at times clear, at times green – of a grate – grid that reaffirms the confined and freedom-lacking atmosphere. However, a grate may also fall apart, swell out. The spotlights on the stage suggest the places where a man and a woman meet, but also those places where they are isolated and lonely.

Stanislava Vlčeková managed to use all the movement skills of the team of actors. The most flexible in this sense seems to be Marta Maťová. Mária Breinerová, for her part, gave the most confident impression in the passages based on expression and spoken word. Cradles offer a pleasant aesthetic and inventive music experience (Jozef Vlk and David Kollar). Performed by the Debris Company, Cradles become a gentle and sensitive probe into the life of a woman and a man, even though lacking a happy ending.

What is not, is possible

From time to time, theatre makers like to go back to the work of Bertolt Brecht – be it The Threepenny Opera, Mother Cougage and Her Children, Baal, The Good Person o Szechwan, Life of Galileo and so forth. However, his Lehrstücke are nearly unknown. It was this work that served as a source of inspiration to the new production Epic of the physical theatre Debris Company. They did not work merely with Lehrstücke, Epic pays homage to the work of B. Brecht and K. Weill, yet at the same time it is a polemic on the purpose and meaning of theatre nowadays. The creators thus go down to the basic question which Brech would ask himself a long time ago: “What is today's theatre like and what is its social purpose? Is it actually still able to convey social criticism at all? Can it be the voice of an "oppressed" majority against an elitarian minority?”

In order for it to be able to conduct a relevant polemic with theatre makers or us, the spectators, the authors had to draw from some basic premises. These had been offered by Bertolt Brecht and his epic theatre, the principles of film montage employed in the first half of the 20th century in both theatre and film, the principles of Meyerhold's biomechanics. Four characters with white-painted expressionist-ish looking faces play out a story of poverty and wealth, of a thoughtful and superficial attitude toward life, of classical values and their change.

Two couples representing two worlds – a world of the ordinary and poverty which stands in opposition to a world of wealth, manipulation and emptiness. Jack and Eve (Daniel Raček and Nikoleta Rafaelisová) have love, but no money. Jack is therefore forced to cross the river every morning to go and work in a factory. The love and sincere emotions of Jack and Eve are expressed in movement and emotionally evocative choreography. The every morning ritual of saying goodbye is accompanied by Eve’s falls forth and back, eventually she ends up on the ground. Jack supports her, lifts her, carries her around, holds her close and then leaves.

Opposite them, on the other side of the stage, a completely antonymous situation takes place. Two absurdly acting characters, as though cut out from a circus or cabaret, or even Lynch’s The Elephant Man, give a humorous, crazy impression, but also arouse insecurity and are a bit frightening. The limping fatalistic Cat with a long cigarette wearing a tight-fitting dress is the typical femme fatale – mysterious, irresistible and demonic. She makes the factory owner Bar fetch newspapers, balls, she sits on him, fastens a collar around his neck – treats him like a dog. He subsequently regains his importance by controlling his employees.

On both sides of the stage there are a smaller and a bigger tent – the houses of Jack and Eve, Bar and Cat. Throughout the whole performance, both "houses" serve as projection screens for exterior and interior pictures of a simple village house and a factory. The film montage accentuates the characterization, as well as the environment in which they find themselves and move. It allows us to parallelly watch two people, two worlds and two realities. We see Jack work hard and we also see Eve who in the same moment is putting their child down to sleep at home. This bipolarity and contrast is also reflected in the visual and movement components of the production. The division line – the river represented by a white lane running across the stage – separates one couple from the other, so that in the end it can help connect them. It serves as a pars pro mediator in this world where “you are no better than I am / we are both very much the same".

The story is divided into seven days. The days are separated from one another by interludes with Bar in the main role, who, however, stops being the factory owner. He is rather a cabaret entertainer with a loudspeaker in his hand. He comments on the situations that have taken or are taking place, he decides about the alternation of days, sings songs related to the story, entertains. The performance of Juraj Hrčka is equally expressive as his voice.

The stereotype-ness of the first half of the week is suddenly interrupted. Jack meets Cat and neither he can resist her charm. They lean over to one another – she daringly, he shyly, keeping that mysterious distance from one another in which energy of attraction is flowing. Cat starts playing games with Jack – she offers him a cigarette swinging it from one side to another and Jack accepts this game. He moves from the left to the right, jumps around her in an attempt to satisfy all her caprices. In this moment, on the other riverbank, Eve starts to move around worryingly. Her movements are insecure, fidgety, sadness shows on her face.

Jack decides to leave to go to the other side of the river chasing the dream of a better life, Eve tries to stop him from going, but does not succeed. In the morning she finds a suitcase at the door.

However, a couple of days later we see Jack return home accompanied by Bar's song on the need for a change, on the vanity of a man's suffering, on how we waste our time in life looking for happiness in the wrong places.

In the production of Epic, the language used for communication, not only between the particular characters but also between the authors and the spectators, consists of stylized and expressive movements, gestures and facial expressions. These perfectly match with the visual, theatrical or film tendencies which in the 1920s and 1930s influenced Bertolt Brecht and his work. The atmosphere of the production strongly resembles expressionist films, and the acting style and stylized movement both perfectly fit in.

Choreography by Stanislava Vlčeková gives an original, dance and contemporary form to the principles similar to the basic rules of the mentioned biomechanics, such as stiffness, bipolarity, decomposition and composition of movements etc. In Epic too, the characters receive impulses to move but suddenly they get stuck, they stop, in order to be able to start off once again and continue the fluency. The tragic gesture, the jerky movements give a humorous, even grotesque impression which gives the production a tragicomic dimension. For instance, Dano Raček as a hard-working and tired Jack is hunched over, with his knees bent, stretching his legs in a funny way when walking while steadily keeping down.

The male actors go beyond their own boundaries of creativity. For Dano Račer the spoken word represents a challenge, for Juraj Hrčka it is the dancing and singing scenes. Stanka Vlčeková and Nikoleta Rafaelisová confirm their universality and versatility. They are both precise in movement and in spite of the deliberate jerky choreography, they move on the stage with grace and fluently pass from one dance position to another.

The production uses precise rhythm set by stylized, distinctive and consistently selected music. During several Bar's scenes and comments we hear compositions of Kurt Weill adapted by various contemporary interpreters. The tones of Salomon Song by Young Gods, Alabama Song by The Doors or some of the musical gems of Toma Waits alternate with the roar of machines, sirens and cock-crowing and they perfectly fit together. The theatricality and cabaret-ness of the chosen compositions correspond with the overall director’s concept of the production.

With this production, the Debris Company managed to expand the boundaries of the meaning of contemporary theatre. Epic is characterised by theatricality that uses all that makes theatre – there is a lot to look at. The form and content are balanced, the music, the visual component and acting and dancing performance correspond with the created stylization which, if used rightly by the authors, becomes incredibly playful and more emphatic in its statement.

Thus, the author’s answer to the above mentioned question of the purpose of theatre is this extraordinary work affirming the theatricality of theatre.

And one last subjective remark – for me personally, after a long time in the Slovak theatre scene this production (besides one or two other exceptions) is the kind of theatre that you like to watch and discover in it new and new relations.

DÁŠA ČIRIPOVÁ – theatre critic – KOD 2/2013 magazine

 

4+4=9 (No. 3) Soliloquy

At the end of Joyce's novel, during her monologue, Molly is lying in bed. The dress worn by Stanislava Vlčeková who played the part of Molly, was a perfect blend of a duvet which covers her and offers her protection in her self-disclosure, and a ruched gown of an opera singer. Accompanied by another opera melody, the dress fulfils the function of a spectacular projection screen for Molly’s memories. As though pages of a book she turns the frills of her dress and the memories follow one after another. The emotionally evocative first part is rounded off by a demonstrative stripping off the dress/duvet. The revealing of Molly's soul and thoughts reaches its climax. There is nothing left to hide.

Vlčeková started to dance Molly’s monologue in a way which did not need any explanatory comments. She perfectly mastered the most diverse postures of her expression and movements. Molly in her stream of speech jumps from one theme to another according to the finest associations which, however, remain bound to the text. All the same, Vlčeková’s dance managed to break this bond. It showed that there is no need to know Joyce’s novel in order for the dance to produce the same effect of boundarylessness of the possible contact points of the most diverse events of human life. For a moment, Vlčeková vehemently tried to restrain her yearning body, and immediately afterward she delivers a child, shows up at a party, grieves the death of her son and once again seduces a man she meets. At times she is exalted, at other times indifferent. What words can only express by utterly breaking the syntactic structure, dance, on the contrary, can convey by all the stronger clenching of the particular movements. Had Vlčeková mechanically separated the various motifs in order to copy the written speech, the result would not by far be so convincing.

After that, Vladimír Zboroň enters the stage as Molly’s husband Leopold Bloom, the main character of Joyce’s novel, the ancient Odysseus. And the same as Molly in her dance, Bloom in his words reveals his subconscious in his monologue. He gets the same time as Vlčeková's interpretation of Molly and that is when it became obvious how challenging a discipline a spoken monologue on a theatre stage is. It is impossible not to recognize how difficult it must have been to learn by heart an almost half an hour monologue without a coherent narration which would help the performer or lead him. Luckily, Joyce’s text is relatively humorous so the audience did not find it too boring.

If the presented contrast between dance and traditional spoken word was supposed to be a measure of their contact surface, then,
I am afraid, it proved the opposite. At least in what concerns the theatrical interpretation. The overwhelming performance of Vlčková was muffled by Zboroň’s appearance in order to provoke an imaginative connection between the two different worlds of the main characters. From a literary point of view, the stage adaptation of the last chapter of Joyce’s Odysseus is a very inspiring method of interpreting such an intricate prosaic work, and from the dance-theatrical point of view it is an experience that makes you ponder on the state of word and movement in contemporary communication.

Author: Dominik Melichar / Divadelní noviny / Published on: 29 October 2012

 

Cradles in a Battle Zone

Coordinates, chess, mine fields, mazes and an uncompromising structure. All these images are evoked by the green grid lit on the stage of the elledanse theatre. That is where the creators of the production Cradles placed their own and not very pleasing analysis of relationships between men and women in the contemporary world.

The Debris Company is one of the pillars of physical theatre in Slovakia. The many-year experience, rich staging tradition and experience in conveying challenging and intimate themes in a non-verbal form are favourable preconditions for the birth of an attractive production. What needs to be said to start with is that spectators will certainly not be disappointed. This form of movement theatre would be communicative enough even if the creators had not used passages from the text by Jana Bodnárová, which served as the main source of inspiration for the production. The director Jozef Vlk perfectly masters the regularities of movement in space, the power of a well located prop, of the right timing, emotionality of music and the communicative value of movement.

In the first half of the production, the spectators easily decode the man's and woman’s positions of power in their relationship, read their different needs, the power of sexual energy, and can easily discover the symbolic meaning of objects which for a short time appear and again disappear from the stage. Logical is the continuous presence of a soldier standing still and an old women coming close, who symbolise two different archetypes of our world. Besides, the spectators may look forward to impressive physical pictures, a theremin played with stacks of money and the joy of cracking the fragile story. The text which appears in the second half of the production was certainly incorporated by the authors in the good faith that it would clarify some relationship levels.

The actors and actresses – above all the performers playing the parts of the central couple of the man and woman Marta Maťová and Štefan Martinovič, but also the old woman in the background played by Mária Brainerová, presented during the performance not only physically demanding, often even acrobatic choreographies by Stanislava Vlčeková, but also enormous accuracy and concentration, thanks to which the parts of the structurally challenging production perfectly fit into one another. Cradles are thus another interesting and quality production by the Debris Company which you should definitely see.

Soňa Smolková, theatre critic | 22/10/2012 14:00 Pravda

 

Collision of the Worlds of Dance and Theatre in MONO

In the production directed by Slovak stage director Jozef Vlk two worlds meet: the worlds of dance and theatre. Accompanied by mono-depressive tones of electronical music, what the director makes come forward are individuality, intimacy, tragicality and comicality. The power of all five life stories. All five characters are wrapped up in themselves, they are together, but that is it. They are not able to coexist, they can only exist with their own self, with their body, deformations, secrets, obsessions. They all exist without the others, only for their own sake. They give their intolerance and indifference toward what surrounds them an absurd form of mutual attacks and disdain. In the border space with four entrances (doors), the performers show off in front of each other, Intoxicated by their own bodies, by their addictions.

All five scenes by the five performers - Stanislava Vlčeková, Emil Píš, Daniel Raček, Martina Lacová and Martin Piterka - show true pictures of situations and types of people we commonly come across. From an arrogant man who devotes his life to nothing else but his career, through a frustrated loner, to a strange guy with perverted cravings. The actors impersonate their characters in a factual manner, and also accurately, without overusing exaggerated gestures or emotions. The most characteristic and at the same time strongest moment is the final scene using a red T-shirt which in the eyes of all the characters symbolises originality and superiority – that is why everyone wants to own it, take it off the body of the other person. After this exhibition, on stage remains just a man by a laptop. He looks in the direction of the audience and closes the laptop. Was it reality or imagination of the observer?
The production is almost entirely wordless, yet through non-verbal action, through detailed character studies conducted by all performers, we learn from their inside the most important thing: your worst enemy is yourself, no matter how much you love (yourself).

Marek Godovič / 04/10/2011 Divadelní Noviny

 

Modern Narcissists

...The stories of the people in the production MONO are told in form of very expressive physical theatre combining both dance and spoken word. Especially breathtaking is the original, demanding and theme-matching partner work – in the Debris Company, excellent dancers are a matter of course. A somehow fragile stage set which delineates the stage space is functional, too: it helps the dancers express their attitude toward the environment and by turning their cubicles inward at the end they insinuate a step towards the others, even though, for the time being, each of them remains curled up in their respective corners. The costumes, music and lighting sensitively and noncontradictingly add to the atmosphere, and it is above all the impressive music that catches the audience's attention....

Petra Dotlačilová / Taneční aktuality

 

Debris Company - Soliloquy / Premiere

In expectation of what will Debris Company do with the writing of James Joyce, I remained surprised and at the same time caught by this piece of art. Mostly by the overall atmosphere of the performance that has been causing me goose-bumps all the way to my subconscious. Yet, in the first sequences I have sensed a very accurate linkage with its original story and its own background. Just as I have once breathlessly read the pages of Molly Bloom´s monologue, now I was caught up in the stream of consciousness, without any break, explanation or clear coherence. At that time, I was carried by a fascinating rhythm that magically allowed me to anticipate connections without being able to determine accurately why is it that I was so impressed by the theatre version of Soliloquy. I was pulled into the very same magic - through a clear and energetically exact motion vocabulary applied instead of words. And music, despite of its strong expression, has not drowned out this delicate and challenging format. The one who did not read Joyce but visits Soliloquy by Debris Company should easily succeed to immerse deeper while reading this chapter...

Festival Bratislava in movement / J. Viňarský, Choreographer

 

The Star of the Festival was Supposed to Be a Canadian Compagnie Marie Chouinard.
But was It Really Them?


Debris Company - Dolcissime Sirene
...Debris Company daze:
The star of the night (and perhaps of the whole festival) was Slovak Debris Company. Even tough, Jozef VLK, Stanislava VLČEKOVÁ and Daniel RAČEK performed Dolcissime Sirene in the same premises three weeks ago, this time the evening brought a more mystic atmosphere and passed smoothly just as a perfectly prepared wedding. Suddenly, the building of the Slovak Broadcasting has experienced Renaissance grandeur, lightness, and elegance. Debris Company has managed to mediate such an experience that dance can indeed create - lets call it daze...

SME Daily Newspaper / J. Kadlecová, Editor

 

It is Necessary to Speculate about Movement.
Debris Company - Dolcissime Sirene


" Techniques are limiting". Risk is a kind of hope. It brings a person to a new artistic testimony, which could not be discovered if one is limited by a specific technique. In Dolcissime Sirene, a lot is at risk as partners test balance, boundaries of each other´s trust while walking over their bodies and carrying one another in space. It is unpredictable and therefore very attractive.
" It is very important to speculate about the meaning of movement in a word-less formation. We wanted to tell more than just a story about emotions of two people. We tried to put it in context of independence from wider socio-political matters..." / Debris Company

SME Daily Newspaper

 

Silence Provocation / The theatre and Debris

...from a certain perspective of an unofficial scene in Slovakia, I have found interesting the videos of Hubris/Debris Company that I have seen. They seemed to me as a real alternative, a true "other voice", unrelated to any official stage. They open themselves towards what is done by modern theatre of current period, i.e. towards music, sculpture, dance and other fields of art. This is how "new theatre" could also be defined, as openness to reality and words as well as other areas of art. And at this point, I believe that we know true alternative that exists - it is strong and in addition it has many references to abroad, regardless of political, social, and economic situation of these countries...

Teatro Magazine / from an interview with Jean-Michel Bruére, the founder of International School of Stage arts FDM-Dropper and Director of La Fabriks Theatre in Marseille

 

Debris Company - Hexen

Artistic feature of a wide-screen film-and-tulle "screen" dominated that formed space between "the Earth and Heaven". Differentiated performing plans thus served in details as relationship situations of dance duets, trios, and quartets along with situations comprising of artistic and magic compositions, where witches´ Madonna of sufferance, their blue sphere of hope, and finding of the portrait of "Dorian Gray" gave natural impression with large dose of tension and internal logic and dynamic. The scene of tearing "facial" mask represented a unique stage element. Symbol of hypocrisy and subsequent mockery "in situation" was a Director´s delicacy of this introverted theatrical format. Dramaturgic concentration and endless confidence in Contemporary Dance with selected topic turned out as the axes of a multi-layered story...

...Slovak Contemporary Dance has confirmed the rule that if equivalent interpretation personalities meet on stage, a provocative theatrical format will arise that is full of secrets, dynamics, tenderness, humor and unrepeated dance plasticity. This plasticity has preciously balanced between fantasy fiction, real time production, and charged invisible harmony of dancing characters. The dancers have been orderly working with "their own" personal topic. Hexen therefore did not become a psychosomatic confession of a dancing author, but a celebration of theatre, where inner character-building dynamics, taste and esthetics of involved artists has been dominating...

Reflector Magazine / P. Maťo, Critic/Reviewer

 

Debris Company - Cosmidiot

Theatre has many forms. However Debris Company is a different theatre than theatre that can rely on its history or tradition in Slovak space-time. It is different than the one, where story is crystallized from a flood of words and sentences, to which we are used to. Cosmidiot uses its own vocabulary and language. This is a language of motion, light, gestures, and expression. Motion is connected to gesture, gesture is enhanced by light, light under-paints expression, so that pictures and visual compositions can arise and tell a story. Story, which arises in a viewer´s head on a separate basis. Theatre of metaphors and theatre of sign...
Should there exist a term for theatre purism, Cosmidiot would fulfil this notion...

SVÚ News / B. Gindlová, curator

 

Dance Festival of Literal Inspiration - Brno, Česká republika
Debris Company - Soliloquy / Dolcissime Sirene.


... The very first performance of the festival, Soliloquy of Slovak Debris Company referred to Joyce´s novel Ulysses. A dancer and choreographer at the same time /Stanislava VLČEKOVÁ/ has performed an expressive and a very pleasantly approached solo of distinct appeal. Direction and light design /Jozef VLK/ have enriched this solo of another dimensions, such as images screened on dancer´s costume. A careful and sensitive work with light was characteristic for this performance...
... In Dolcissime Sirene, inspired by Ottavio Rinuccini´s text, VLČEKOVÁ was joined by Daniel RAČEK in a role of dancer and choreographer. Romantic motive /wedding/ and content of this play was handled with remarkable motion language and the way how both protagonists managed to react to each other.
Both Slovak performances gave a very cohesive impression and were highly communicative and free of any circumlocution.
...the most interesting to me was the very first evening - Debris Company. During the performance, I had no time left for thinking. And that is good, because usually a person immediately thinks about what annoys him and looks for imperfections. I had no chance to do so. I was simply sitting and watching as if traveling in a train...

Taneční zóna - Dance Zone magazine / Michal Švanda, Critic/Reviewer

 

New Dramatic Communication

Debris Company is engaged with motion-dance theatre, action art and performance. Their projects are always connected with strong basis, original work, and adaptation. Soliloquy arises from the last chapter of James Joyce´s novel Ulysses Dolcissime Sirene /wedding and it is partly inspired by texts of Ottavio Rinuccini and Plato´s idealism. Earlier productions are strongly influenced by Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, and adaptation of Knut Hamsun Hunger´s novel is currently being prepared. Hidden in expressive, contrast, sensitive, but also sharp and critical motions, is a strong topic, testimony and opinion of authors - boundaries of consciousness and unconsciousness, day and night, in which we are combating for our place and existence. Performances often express ambivalent values, doubts, relationship of man and woman, study on identity issues, and historical truth in close interconnection to present days. Similarly, the protagonists are able to enthuse, be optimistic, enjoy life with all that it brings. Debris Company is able to connect music, motion, creative art and philosophy in a sensitive and aesthetic manner. In their representation, non-verbality of motion and music is converted into thought. Body operates in an erotic sense, it is sensual but also fragile or natural. Body formulates purpose and energy. Its corporeality, bareness, and imperfection face technically perfect, insentient instruments, props and produce no disharmony, but synchronization, mutual reactions, and interconnection. Beforehand defined intention and authors´ sensitivity for detail and general context contribute to the success of unique projects. Debris Company is still able to surprise, discover new connections, all of this with professional onset. Their production could be definitely classified as multimedia, avant-garde stream enriching Slovak theatrical scene for a longer period...

Vlna Magazine / D. Čiripová, Theatre Institute

 

...Debris Company projects preciously combine universality of dramatic language, topics and uniqueness of dramatic handwriting and authors´ attitudes - nevertheless, high professionalism of performers.

These are the words that can be used to define, in general, beautiful dance duet Dolcisime sirene. Premiered in 2007, the piece still belongs to recommended performances of today´s Slovak dance and motion theatre. Project was included in IETM Bratislava 2009 meeting and anthology DVD KIOsk Digital Showcase New Slovak Independent Performing Arts that was issued by the Slovak Theatre Institute...

Romana Maliti / Theatrologist, Theatre Institute

 

Text from the publication of the Slovak National Gallery/Dramatic Institute:
Slovak Dramatic Stage Design:


... in 1991, group of performers Hubris/Debris based their work on a different imagination. The group realized several unique projects in Slovak theatre. Screaching Pipes of Nothingness (1991), Ulysses (1992), Code QUTNXZY (1995), and Nobody Knows (1996) were launched in found stokehold premises of a forgotten swimming pool at Žižkova street in Bratislava. It was the most distinct example of "theatre" in non-theatrical premises in Slovakia. In fact, almost unmodified premises - installations, where fractions, a second lasting "stories" were performed determined the work to the point that its realization can be classified as the line of dramatic alternative that is designated as site specific. Projects were based on knowledge available on the progress of modern dance, performance, and installation arts. All inputs - visual, musical, sounds, motion, were precise, rhythmical in time and place. Authors and collaborators of the projects layered events happening in the stokehold in a parallel consecutive manner, whilst viewers composed entire work from what they were able to capture. There is no center or focus of "action" in such environment, it is changeable and shifts from one place to another. The performance thus goes against illusionism of real time and an actor, who is more of a performer than a dancer, through its motions uncovers gradually the space and expresses itself not by dance rhetoric, but by means of "simple language" of motions and gestures. The projects fulfilled the axioms of environmental theatre proclaimed by Schechner on the level of text that "does not have to represent the background nor objective of performance. The text does not even have to exist at all."

Dagmar Poláčková / Curator

 

VICIOUS HEXES

It was on 30 October in A4 Bratislava´s stage of performing arts, where I have experienced a theatre show where miraculous things happened. Or rather it was a theatre with curious energy. This theatre performance presents no social ideas or social criticism, no false psychologism or formal art for art. It is simply a theatre providing experience that is shared among each other while bringing various feelings. Or rather it is a theatre that will light up your latent energy through its visual language of movements and gestures aligned in a code of inner alphabet.

The first idea that crossed my mind was that this energy ensues from the title itself HEXEN. Debris Company practices witchcraft, literally. You will be evil-eyed by its strength of schemed composition of moves and gestures and especially by what can be expressed via its kinetic alphabet. And as this is an alphabet of energy originating between sensuality and non-sensuality as well as between sensuality of moving dancers and that of sitting audience, it is almost impossible to describe it. Indeed, dancers use no words and yet express themselves. This is a fascinating feature of Contemporary Theatre, where devalued written and spoken language of present days is substituted by a language conceived by corporal body, sounds and imagery. Indeed, it communicates.

Depicting of conflicts and thus allowing their suppression has always been one of the functions of theatre. Activation of unconscious images and archetypes may bring healing. And Debris Company succeeds to fulfil this mission. Hexen is based on conflict and tension on material level, i.e. in movement techniques of individual dancers as well as in construction of its choreography. And as choreography and motion of individual dancers is very precise, it leads to the transformation of this motion that is based upon tension and subsequent release into non-material level. Audience thus perceives movement of four bodies arranged in space and it is not mere admiration of physical abilities, the show simultaneously allows interconnection of artistic and emotional experience enriched with somewhat that, in fact, cannot be named, an innermost essence of experience. This experience offers no materialized relations that can be, easily or hardly, designated with real attributes. On the other hand, it gathers archetypal energy of basic contradiction of feminine and masculine energy.
This unnameable essence is most likely a combination of features. In Hexen, all makers were equally involved in the creative process and present their voices which are not forced. Dancer is a maker, not mere material. A dancer´s personal energetic input is important in addition to its excellent physical movement.

The entire balance of alchemistic mixture of features was achieved through sound production that provides framework rather than dictation and through unique and minimalistic music composed by Jozef Vlk. Electronic rhythm along with contrapuntistic, stringed and at same time minimalistic musical motive is the key element of choreography of Stanka Vlčekova and Daniel Raček and music.

The scene of Eva Rácová delimits horizontal space and thereby forms two performing plans. The first plan can be called real space presenting physical theatre of real movements, contacts, and specific sensuality. The second plan could perhaps be called "the other side" or "space beyond" representing sophisticated contrapunctic plan (which is in harmony with music and sounds), in which the first plan is "depicted". However, it is not a copy or imitation, it is rather a game of significances referring to "real plan" directly demonstrated to audience, where deeper context refers back to Michelangelo‘s or El Greco´s Pieta. ee
The reference to tri-dimensionality of the statue or two-dimensionality of the painting relates with delimiting of horizon, i.e. principle of scenic space as tableau. This modifies significantly the meaning of sculptural configuration of dancers in specific positions. It is not a purposeless use of stop-time of motion. It is a punctual play with dynamics of body and space. Through stiffening, i.e. projecting motions on painting that is also applied in the second plan "framed plan" or "space beyond", the authors achieve desired tension and rhythm, fast and minimalistic movement of repeated elements suddenly petrified in time and space. Stiffening as an element of dance theatre has always brought motive of irritation, interruption, and diversion form what is expected. Indeed, Hexen applies this motive accurately and impressively. Imagine hip-twisting by dancer standing on a single place or minimalistic movements of hands reminding oriental hand motions or precise play with the body´s gravity centre, equilibrium, and specified tension referring to the element of Eastern martial arts that can stop instantly as if being evil-eyed.

Horizontal frame displays another dimension. As it is filled with half-transparent and back-lighted fabric it evolves mysterious imagery of immaterial beings beyond the frame and video-projection and thus a mystic effect of the third plan is achieved. The third plan as borderline with the other reality, on which movements are screened either time-delayed motion or parallel movements from the first plan. The borderline, where fire is inflamed, luminous ring moves representing full moon or where smoke clouds are diffused.

Etymology of word Hexe (in German - witch) describes witch as a being burnt at the stake between two worlds. Here and out there. In the world of substance and the other world that is impalpable. Not surprisingly, Hexen rhythm has practically shamanistic dimension that could lead us to parallel universe. Antonin Artaud would be happy of that.
Hexen could also depict misunderstanding and conflict between what one desires to live and what one actually lives, i.e. borderline between what is deemed as real and unreal, lines represented by bodies and possibilities and impossibilities, and how to cross over these boundaries. Sometimes it is possible to cross the line, else it is impassable. Or is it all mere appearance? One could be burnt on such stake.

Elixir characteristic for Debris is prepared of the most up-to-date doses of humour, lightness, rhythm, tension, release, and resignation on representation and interpretation. Vicious hexes.

Salto Magazine / Martina Vánnayová, critic, dramaturgist

 


...evocative statements about the games played in personal and social politics marked the choreography elegantly. Very evocative. Different and enjoyable....

The Straits Times Life / Singapore

 

Dolcissime sirene

In the semi-darkness it appeared that the perfectness of the form, sensitive harmony of bodies and dynamics of the relationship on the stage are the assurance of a quality work of art, which is evaporating, like the historic moment of the wedding of two strong families...
The naturalness of experience was helped by classical music chosen by the creators, and everything had meaning also thanks to Beckett´s quotation: "Firstly dance, then think. That is the natural course of things." This has taken the wind from sails of those who write history believing all is true. The only thing which really matters in dance and history of mankind is personal experience, not words.

Milan Zvada/festival Kiosk/ KOD Magazine

 

Vlk´s Witty Mono-Solitude

Jozef Vlk has been a spiritual father of an independent theatre group called Debris Company for more than 17 years. I consider a miracle that this independent company has not yet been closed down. Despite the long-term financial super-diet from the side of the state, the artists execute their projects for the viewer who refuses to watch series about a "happy health service" or a concrete maze of banal relationships.

The latest Vlk´s work called Mono is an excursion to the lives of ordinary contemporaries who regularly pay taxes and get salaries reaching the amount of state support for "inadaptable" citizens. They are neither optimistically tuned and successful political privatisers from the 1990s nor actors who work in professional consumerism. They are inferiority complex outsiders who watch their privacy and human dignity. Stories from life, which they originally depict, are their only communication code in the real world of the every-day paradox. Tired Beauty on Stilettos by Stanislava Vlčeková leaves total "obeisance" on the bodies of her men. They hope they once will visit her human den. Upside-down, she returns to the memories of dancing waltz believing that forgotten Cinderella´s shoes will be eventually returned to the place she has taken them from by a sympathetic person. Phlegmatic Boy with Hands in the Pockets by Emil Píš is a humble womanizer unable to lure his prey sexually and show her his true heart beating under the rags he wears as a protecting shield. Girl with a Camera by Martina Lacová wants all parts of her body to be kept in the album called The Perfect Woman. Under her dynamic and affected girly curiosity a slumbering beast of prey is hiding. Talking Skinny Neurotic in a Red T-shirt and Spangle Pants by Daniel Raček is a caricature of his dashing body. The obsession burns him and evokes an irresistible need to undress his body until naked in order to show his human courage. Martin Piterka imprisoned in the world of Imagination of Infantile Outsider dances with all signs of man who stands out of "picture" and "sound" . Jozef Vlk with Stanislava Vlčeková and Peter Jaško created a stage feature full of humour, wit and irony. Despite the closed space for life and stereotyped mutual „sniffing around" of the characters, the production of Mono created plastic areas charged with inner strength of theatrical tension and active relief.

Peter Maťo/Pravda daily newspapers

 

Debris Company - Hexen

By its contents it examines the essence of man, his need of love or encounter with others in any form. By the form this choreography carries on in the style of the Debris Company: the cast of the dancers of distinctive expression, precise technique following the potential of contemporary dance, thought-out visual idea and original music by contemporary Slovak composer. Their message works without any casual connection, the bearer of the significance here is the thoroughly built atmosphere which can be called magical. They lead us to imaginary timelessness where the only meaning of being is the unresisting flowing in time, space, in others, but mainly in ourselves.

Julie Kočí: Debris Company (SK)/ Hexen
written for the Tanec Praha festival, divadlo Ponec, 13 June 2010

 

The Healing Pathos of the Slovak Debris Company

I don´t deny Nigel Charnock´s first high-minded movement to cure people from depression. The Slovak group called Debris was much more better in such curing in its magically-ironic quartet entitled Hexen, with the choreography made by Stanislava Vlčeková and Daniel Raček. Using magic of lights and dark two enchanters were sending mysterious physical signs to two men who were being cured (or initiated?). The physical form, brought by the composition of pieta with the man lying in the lap of the enchanter, was interwoven by numerous gentle allusions of purifying movements. In today´s central-European dance zone, the Slovaks are more and more an interesting phenomenon - but it would be a topic for a longer story.

Nina Vangeli / theatre critic / Divadelní Noviny No. 15_2010

 

MONO / Is One Always Less than Enough?

The Debris Company is one of the few Slovak groups which has been working continually. The style of the group, with typical gesture work and the mimic expressions reaching extreme, the hypnotic and seriously (and likeably) built-up dynamics of the choreography based on the solidly connected partner work. The performances of the Debris Company are characterised by strong idea as the base for the physical work and the ambition to leave the movement to face literature or succumb to dramaturgy. In MONO the theme flashes from the final form more naturally. A world of narcissuses is opened in front of us, the world of lonely perfectness or perfect loneliness. By the use of civil costumes and a few props / symbols a new physical character is formed, based on playing with fetishes and vanity.
The production of MONO moved the group into more extreme and physically more demanding stages, sometimes even into acrobatic levels and prevailing swiftness and precision. Watching MONO one has a feeling of not being in Slovakia, the country where almost none of the contemporary dance groups has room and conditions for a continual work. Therefore, in this case even one can mean more than enough.

Maja Hriešik / SALTO magazine


 


Production Index /1990-2017/


1990 Comic mirror
1991 ..on the ground.. / a dato vs. hubris company
1991 Screaching pipes of nothingness / hubris company
1991 Point on the horizon / a dato vs hubris company
1992 Ulysses / hubris company
1992 Something in the way / hubris company vs a dato
1993 UBU-celzia krona / hubris company
1994 Murphy / hubris company

1995 code:QUTNXZ84/8Y / debris company

1995 Nobody knows / debris company
1997 Ode to filth / theatre la fabriks_du merlan vs debris company
1997 Biology of an obstacle / debris company
1998 Cosmidiot / debris company
2006 Soliloquy / debris company
2007 Dolcissime sirene / debris company
2007 Ortopoetikum / maja hriesik vs. debris company
2008 HEXEN / debris company
2010 Between a rock and a hard place / produced for MESA Prague
2010 MONO / debris company

2010
SOFA: / presented by debris company
2012 power power dance / debris company_verte_anna steller
2012 Oblaky / martin cicvak_debris company
2012 KOLISKY_battle zone / debris company
2012 EPIC / debris company
2014 CLEAR / debris company

2015 ROOTS / debris company dance studio Banska Bystrica

2017 WOW! / debris company
2017 Únos Európy / debris company

 

 




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