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Nostos: Encounters with the Open Program

Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, Pontedera, Italy
Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto, Canada


This February 10th – 23rd

The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto is honoured to announce a Canadian first. From February 10th to the 23rd we will be welcoming the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards for a two-week artistic-residency. The program of Nostos will offer incredible opportunities for students, artists, scholars, teachers, and the public to encounter the work of the Open Program through a series of diverse events, including performances, public talks, screenings, professional masterclasses, and a culminating symposium. CDTPS, with the generous support of the Jackman Humanities Institute and our partners at U of T, is welcoming students and faculty from across our three campuses, as well as artists and community groups in the city to join us in generating a series of encounters and potential discoveries through performance and dialogue.


The Open Program is directed by Mario Biagini, Associate Director of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, and long-time Grotowski collaborator. The Open Program—comprised of 10 actors from around the world—explores the moment of encounter by approaching the poetic word as a tool for human contact and action. In this sense, their work aims to re-discover the very nucleus of theatre: the moment of meaningful contact between human beings. Their current performances arise from an investigation of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, woven through traditional songs and shouts from the southern United States, as well as works composed by the group-members. Their ongoing line of research and work with songs of the South is brought into contact with ancient Coptic texts in their newest work, The Hidden Sayings.

 – Professional Masterclass: Organic Behaviour and Intentional Action: The Practice of the Performer –

During this three-day intensive masterclass, we will explore fundamental elements of the actor’s craft such as organicity, relation, contact, impulse, intention, action and reaction, the relation between process and form, and strive towards an understanding of the difference between movement and action. Under the direction of Mario Biagini, participants will work on “songs of tradition” and on elements of the physical training developed at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards over the past twenty-seven years. This masterclass will allow participants to approach the basic aspects of practical research at the Workcenter, and to discover their own individual and unique approach to creation.

The class will be based on the basic but complex constitutive elements of the actor’s craft:

– Relation: precision / organicity.
– Relation: tradition / individual work.
– Relation: ritual / drama.
– Composed movement and rhythm.
– Singing.
– Vibration of the voice.
– Body resonators and spatial resonance
– Awareness of space and reacting to its constituent elements.
– Improvisation: the impulses / the vigilant mind.
– Improvisation within a structure.
– Search for a precise line and logic of impulses and physical actions: the score.

(Please note – you do not need to be able to read music, or be a trained singer to fully participate in this masterclass)

NEW! We are accepting applications from anyone who would like to apply – students, professional artists, teachers, arts workers, musicians, etc.  However, spaces are limited, so please apply early.  There are two streams: Student & Professional.


 Deadline for applications: January 15, 2014.
A $50 registration fee will be due upon acceptance, to confirm your place in the masterclass.

Dates: February 18 – 20, 2014.  10 am – 5 pm.
The masterclass is a three-day, professional intensive.  Attendance at all three days is mandatory for participation.  This takes place during the University of  Toronto’s Reading week.

– Four Public Performances –

Electric Party Songs

A flow of songs and actions based on the poetry of American poet Allen Ginsberg weaved into materials created by its members drawing inspiration from blues, rock, pop, opera, punk, and traditional sources.  February 13 & 21, 8 pm

 I Am America

Bringing to life the poetry of Allen Ginsberg in a performance with language culled from his poetry as well as calls, shouts and traditional songs from the South of the United States. February 15, 8pm

 The Hidden Sayings

Canadian premiere!!  The Open Program brings their new work to the Studio Theatre stage.  Continuing the investigation of songs from the Southern United States, woven with early Christian Coptic (Egypt) texts. February 22, 8pm.


– Public Encounters –


“Dinner and a Movie” & “Dessert and a Movie”

Tuesday nights, February 11 & 18, 7:30pm

Join members of the Open Program as we explore the work of Jerzy Grotowski and the Workcenter on film.  Engage in a lively conversation afterwards.


 “Colloqium – Chat with the Open Program”

Friday, February 14th, 2pm

As part of the ongoing Drama Centre Friday Chat Series, join Associate Director Mario Biagini and the Open Program for an intimate conversation about the Workcenter and Grotowski.


Sunday, February 23, 4pm

The culminating event of the residency, artists, students, scholars, and artists are invited to this open forum.  Reflect on the experience of the residency, explore reactions, connection points, and imagine what the future of this work might be.


More details to follow – stay tuned!


Photo by Simona Fossi (2013)

For more information visit our website
http://nostosencounters.wordpress.com/ or email us at nostosencounters@gmail.com
We’d also love for you to “Like” our page  on Facebook

Nostos: Encounters with the Open Program – Donor List

The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

The Jackman Humanities Institute

Department of English and Drama: University of Toronto Mississauga

Department of Italian Studies: University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Department of English: University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures: University of Toronto, St. George 

Centre for Comparative Literature: University of Toronto, St. George 

Centre for Study of the United States (CSUS)/Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto

Hart House Good Ideas Fund

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