Urban Research Theater: Summer Project

We have just begun our two-month long summer project at Medicine Show. Thanks to Movement Research for giving us the opportunity to post updates about our work during this time of opening.

I have been working in NYC almost continuously since 2001 (with a two-year break when I lived in Poland), but I have never had a space to call my own. I’ve worked in classrooms, student lounges, photo studios, dance studios, small theaters, parks and plazas, but I’ve never been able to host other artists in the space where I work. Deciding to rent Medicine Show for two months is a major experiment (financial, organizational, artistic) in production.

It began with our “Grand Opening” party last week. We actually hosted eight groups (about twenty artists/performers) in that one night. Photo exhibition, site-specific mural, dance, theater, video art, musical interventions, and a live band. People commented on the balance between the warm, informal, “familiar” atmosphere and the high quality of artistic work. There seems to be something European about this?

Last night we had dinner with Jarek Fret, director of the Grotowski Institute in Poland. He told us about their many current projects: opening a new space, premiering new works from the resident company, hosting and supporting the work of younger companies and researchers, convening meetings and symposia, publishing books and periodicals… In Polish, the Institute is “im.” Jerzy Grotowski. There is no English equivalent for this. It is founded in the name of Grotowski but it is not limited to an archive of his works. So it has a center, but can also grow.

I don’t know of any institute like that in New York City. Actually, Movement Research may be the closest thing. Centered, with a vision, dedicated to that elusive quality called “quality” — but always open, not defined by the aesthetics of any individual artist.

Meanwhile…

Our performance PLAY/WAR opens tonight.

With all its precise structure of actions — physical work, songs, text — the piece remains mysterious. It is place in which to discover something, inside all of those intricate details. Still, as always, the work is about the partner and the way in which we appear, together. This is the deepest work I have undertaken inside a theatrical frame. Black curtains, lights, costumes, dialogue. Yet still to be present, not despite but because of all of that. Provoked, contained, incarnated by it…

Ben Spatz
Artistic Director
Urban Research Theater
MR-AIR 2010-2012

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