THE CHORUS OF WOMEN
THE CHORUS OF WOMEN is a modern form of choral theatre created by Marta Górnicka. The birth of the CHORUS OF WOMEN was accompanied by an idea to “regain female voice” and create post-modern chorus theater – an esthetic, formal and ideological concept of theater, which merges western scene’s original power of collective voice/body with contemporary critic of language as a tool of power.
The performance librettos are a collage of cultural texts, with a medley of fragments of the Antigone, works by Agamben, Barthes, and Butler, colloquial language, advertising slogans, recipes, computer sounds, movie quotes and fairy tales. Rhythmic speech and pop-culture sound bites fuse with traditional musical forms – polyphonic chorus, sacred music, and arias, thereby creating an innovative post-opera form. The choir whispers, screams, sighs, sings, chants, laughs, and rattles. Thanks to a precise musical score, where the principal material are not sounds but these phrases and words, language is also subject to a radical reinterpretation, becoming stripped of its meaning: it balances on the verge of reason. Violent clashes stemming from different discourses and language registers destroy linguistic clichés. The choir depicts language as a tool of violence and power. It packs quotations up to the very upper limit. It plants language with explosives – only to blow it up or disarm it using laughter. Upon explosion, the voice liberates itself from words. In the gaps between language and voice, a new form of speech resounds. An impossible form of speech, whose existence the CHORUS does not believe in, but which it also implicitly affirms.
The cast is made up of 25 women from various age groups and professional backgrounds.
The first project of the CHORUS: “This is the CHORUS speaking: Only 6 to 8 hours, only 6 to 8 hours” premiered on June 13, 2010. The performance was voted as “Teatr” magazine’s BEST ALTERNATIVE AND MUSICAL THEATRE PERFORMANCE IN POLAND in the 2009/2010 season.
The second project MAGNIFICAT has been awarded a Grand Prize of the Jury of the XLVII Review of Small Form Theater KONTRAPUNKT 2012 as well as the main prize for the best director and audience prize and the audience award on the M-theater Festival 2012 in Koszalin. MAGNIFICAT also won prestigious award for the best performance at the Mess Festival in Sarajevo in Future MESS category as well as two special awards by journalists of Radio Sarajevo and Hrabri Novi Svijetmagazine. Marta Górnicka was also awarded the First Prize for Directing of MAGNIFICAT at the FastForward European Festival of Young Directors in Braunschweig.
On March 24, 2013 an opening night of REQUIEMACHINE took place at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw. The libretto was based on poetic texts of Wladyslaw Broniewski. The performance was co-produced by La Filature – Scene Nationale, Mulhouse, Theatre National de Strasbourg, Le Maillon – Theatre de Strasbourg and Ringlokschuppen, Mulheim an der Ruhr. The French premiere took place in May 2013 in La Filature – Scene Nationale and the German premiere was in June 2013 in Ringlokschuppen, Mülheim an der Ruhr. Marta’s third production is a continuation of her project for a modern tragic CHORUS that serves as means of critical reflection upon man as shaped by the norms of culture, society, the economy and religion.
Two performances MAGNIFICAT and REQUIEMACHINE were presented during one of the most prestigious European festivals – BERLINER FESTSPIELE – FOREIGN AFFAIRS in Berlin in 2014, as well as in the Netherlands during the International SPRING Performing Arts Festival and the MESS FESTIVAL in Sarajevo. In 2013, there was an overview of the entire work of Marta Górnicka at the Festival International de Theatre SENS INTERDITS in Lyon and Malta Festival in Poznan in 2013. THE CHORUS OF WOMEN team currently consists of more than 50 people, women and men.
THE CHORUS OF WOMEN represented Poland and successfully performed during more than 50 theatre and art of directing festivals in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Ukraine, Spain, Russia, United Kingdom.
Katarzyna Czeczot, “THE CHORUS OF WOMEN Mixes for Antigone”, www.krytykapolityczna.pl, 02.07.2010
“Marta Górnicka, the librettist of THE CHORUS OF WOMEN, inserts into it one of the lines pronounced by the chorus from the tragedy by Sophocles: the male chorus, as Sophocles gave priority to such a chorus…
Similarly, she appropriates all other lines. Her libretto is conceived of as a bewildering collage; bewildering since the dynamics of consecutive phrases benefits from all possible registers, from a weak squeal to invasive orders, from coquettishness, in which at times incertitude and at times fear resound, to an angry roar. Regular chants equally coexist with moments of complete cacophony (…) Clashes of languages, as well as tension created by the repeated gestures of separation and unification, breaks and alliances, the fragility of this chorus, so remote from a compact group, whose force is unity – all these make an unusual, hypnotising and electrifying enterprise. Its message combines the energy of rejection with purifying therapy: a combination that I regarded as impossible until The Chorus of Women. The enunciated text splits into quartets, duets and single voices. One of the lines interrupts another or several resound at once; the chant turns into noise, but when it returns into pure tone there is a tension in it, behind which you can feel the determination of all the singers. This is a chorus on the verge of collapse, performing, as if convinced of its mission, an anthem of integration.”
Thomas Irmer, “The tank men, the dog and Jelinek’s couch” – nachtcritic.de, 06.04.2011
“Marta Górnicka’s CHORUS OF WOMEN is a true discovery and probably a turning point for Polish theatre.
THE CHORUS OF WOMEN
cast: Ewa Chomicka, Maniucha Bikont, Justyna Chaberek, Alina Czyżewska, Paulina Drzastwa, Alicja Herod, Anna Jagłowska, Natalia Jarosiewicz, Katarzyna Jaźnicka, Barbara Jurczyńska, Ewa Konstanciak, Ewa Kossak, Katarzyna Lalik, Agnieszka Makowska, Kamila Michalska, Jolanta Nałęcz-Jawecka, Natalia Obrębska, Magda Roma Przybylska, Anna Rączkowska, Anna Rusiecka, Monika Sadkowska, Kaja Stępkowska, Karolina Szulejewska, Paulina Sacharczuk, Iwona Tołbińska, Karolina Więch, Anna Wodzyńska, Anna Wojnarowska, Agata Wenzel, Magdalena Woźniak, Anna Andrzejewska, Beata Banasik, Viola Glińska, Paula Maria Głowacka, Marta Markowicz, Paula Maria Głowacka, Małgorzata Nowacka, Natalia Samojlik, Anna Maria Sieklucka
concept, libretto, director: Marta Górnicka
choreography: Anna Godowska
scientific/literary advisor: Agata Adamiecka
conducting consultant: Marta Szelig
stage management: Marek Susdorf
producer: Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, Warsaw
The project was initiated on December 1, 2009 by way of an open casting call. The selection process did not take into account the age of the candidates or their experience in the fields of acting or music. 28 women were selected from a group of 130 candidates. THE CHORUS OF WOMEN began work in January 2010 with a movement and voice workshop. That same month, the libretto and score were created for the first project: “THIS IS THE CHORUS SPEAKING: only 6 to 8 hours, only 6 to 8 hours…