POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE BERLIN

@Ute Langkafel
The Political Voice Institute is part of the Chorus of Women Berlin project funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the State of Berlin, Senate Department for Culture and Europe in Maxim Gorki Theater

The Political Voice Institute was launched in September 2019 at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin as the continuation of an exploration of contemporary chorus theatre of Marta Górnicka. The institute is a workshop centre for the use of the collective voice/body and language. It is a social laboratory, which seeks to build open, diverse communities and strengthen strategies for resistance to and criticism of violence in social life. It researches and develops practices in the domain of the political character of the voice/body/language. It looks for practical answer to the question: How can the voice be used for freedom?

 

THE FIELDS OF WORK

Work at the POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE takes place in the following fields:

+ the INSTITUTE enters disputed territories, it does not hesitate to transgress the »no platform«  rule and the principles of political correctness,

+ the INSTITUTE is open to working with people of extreme opinions. It uses the languages and voices of radical counter-audiences. It literally encounters the bodies and languages of OTHERS,

+ the INSTITUTE’S PERFORMING TEAM experiments with contemporary body/voice techniques and polyphony,

+ the CHOREO CHORUS initiates work on dance technique and the choreography of collectivity,

+ the INSTITUTE creates librettos, manifestos, performances, it initiates public debate, performative actions and political interventions in the public space,

+ the INSTITUTE initiates practical work in the spirit of intersectional feminism and collective memory studies,the INSTITUTE undertakes work and research on the workshop for the new society – practices of finding voice, giving voice, hearing and listening.

We are looking for practical answer to the question: How can the voice be used for freedom?

WHO ARE WE?
THE CONTEMPORARY TRAGIC CHORUS is created by a multilingual, post-national group of performers – people of varying skills, life experiences, religions, attitudes, ages, and degrees of physical, intellectual and social ability. It is a community that recognizes the end of the world as we know it – a world of guaranteed rights, inviolable values, stable divisions, assigned territories and sufficient resources. In the reality of the end of society, our community takes on the challenge of creating a common voice, which opens up perspectives for articulating a new WE.

Performers: Sandra Bourdonnec, Angelika Götz, Veronika Heisig, Riah May Knight, Saskia Kollbach, Sibylle Kranwetvogel, Margaux Marielle-Tréhoüart, Hila Meckier, Gian Mellone, David JongSung Myung, Therese Nübling, Paola Pilnik, Filip Piotr Rutkowski, Michaela Maxi Schulz, Elena Schmidt, Weronika Wronka

HOW DO WE WORK?
The foundation for building the collective voice of the CHORUS is a workshop practice based on Marta Górnicka’s original vocal-acting training for the voice/body, aimed at finding the organic voice. Sound emerging from the human body begins communication. As the material basis of language, it is both the source of a community, and the tool for all divisions. Rhythm is the primal binding mechanism for bodies, through which they can merge into one collective body, revealing both the beauty and the horror of the community. The CHORUS, which works as both a critical and affective language-body machine, attempts to encompass and examine all of these registers in their full ambivalence. It subjects them to extreme intensification. It creates the monstrous figure of the collective.
The CHORUS works with language and cultural texts, accumulates and detonates linguistic clichés, mixes and collides languages. It lays bare the obscenity and violence of the language of politics. It constructs and explodes the Tower of Babel. It examines the liminal moments in the community.
The work of the CHORUS is experimental and process-based.

WHAT IS OUR STORY?
The first ensemble of contemporary choral theatre – THE CHORUS OF WOMEN – was born in 2010 at The Theatre Institute in Warsaw. It was a realization of the idea of reclaiming the collective women’s voice in public scene, which was especially important in Poland. It also created an aesthetic, formal and ideological conception of a theatre which connects the power of the collective voice/body (which is foundational for Western theatre) with a critique of language. The Ancient Greek chorus and community rituals based on collective singing and dancing served as reference materials for the CHORUS, which summoned and, at the same time, ostentatiously transcended them, giving voice to women whose bodies and speech had been excluded from public space. This is why the name THE CHORUS OF WOMEN refers not so much to the gender of the choreutai, as to the political practice of reclaiming the voice and of collective resistance by the excluded and the oppressed.
In subsequent years, the CHORUS developed its language and way of working. The performances of the CHORUS were shown multiple times across Europe at over 60 of the most important theatre festivals and venues (including the Berliner Festspiele, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Athens-Epidauros Festival, Saints Interdits Festival Lyon as well as in India, the UK, Russia, Ireland and Japan). The CHORUS acted and intervened in social and political hot spots: it worked with the Roma community in Slovakia as the CHORUS OF ROMA PEOPLE, as well as with Muslim women, children and Israeli soldiers in Tel Aviv in the performance MOTHER COURAGE WON’T REMAIN SILENT. It staged the CONSTITUTION FOR THE CHORUS OF POLES in Warsaw during the first year of the rule of the right-wing government that has violated the Polish constitution multiple times. It articulated the text of the German constitution at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

GRUNDGESETZ | GG
The project that initiated the creation of the POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE in Berlin was the performance of GRUNDGESETZ that took place in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 2018. A diverse, multilingual ensemble of 50 performers subjected the constitution to a stress test. It checked on the extent to which the rights and freedoms that are declared foundational for contemporary German society really do work in a time of global exodus and the crisis of liberal democracy. Who is the subject of the constitution? What is the status of bodies present on German territory that are not included in its laws? Who is the CHORUS that celebrates the reunification of the national body politic with the community of Berlin?

Political Voice Institute had a premiere of the performance “COMMUNITY AN APP FOR ONE PERSON” 10.09.2020 at the GORKI KIOSK, giving an insight into working processes of the Political Voice Institute and investigating the (im)possibility of the chorus/community in times of social distancing. It was the first performance of new DIGITAL/ RITUAL CHORUS form.

CREDITS

PERFORMERS:
Sandra Bourdonnec, Saskia Kollbach, Sibylle Kranwetvogel, Hila Meckier, Gian Mellone, David JongSung Myung, Therese Nübling, Filip Piotr Rutkowski, Lola Pilnik, Elena Schmidt, Riah Knight, Veronika Heisig, Angelika Gotz, Michaela Schultz, Margaux Marielle-Trehouart

ARTISTIC DIRECTION:
Marta Górnicka

ARTISTS:
Performers of POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE & ARTISTS: Doris Uhlich, Jan Martens, Lama Szydłowska, Romy Schwarzer, Rafał Ryterski, Polina Lapkovskaya

DRAMATURGY:
Agata Adamiecka, Clara Probst, Ludwik Haugk

PRODUCTION:
Maxim Gorki Theater, Ewelina Donejko

The Political Voice Institute is part of the Chorus of Women Berlin project funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the State of Berlin, Senate Department for Culture and Europe

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