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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Petra Tejnorová (CZ)_interview by Orsolya Bálint (KÖM)

photo: M. Bartos
Watching a movie coming alive on stage

The first Performing V4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents starts on the 26th of February in Prague’s Studio ALTA at 7 p.m. with an exclusive “theatre in film, film in theatre” premiere: Making of Nevina is a live cinema performance directed by Petra Tejnorová (CZ) about creating the performance Sgt. Tejnorová & the Commando: NEVINA / INNOCENCE, based on the play written by renowned contemporary German playwright Dea Loher. We talked to Petra about 'live cinema', a movie coming alive in front of our eyes, through the interplay of screen and stage. 

Your project Nevina (Innocence) is based on Dea Loher's play of the same title. How did you find this play and why did it inspire you?
I have been searching quite long for a play that would fit to the live cinema form. Then I have found the play of Dea Loher by coincidence. The whole play is a kind of story puzzle – like the movie Amores Perros (2000) by Alejandro González Iñárritu, for example. Through a few characters, from many sides and from the different perspectives we are getting closer and closer to the central event of the movie. The play Innocence is a desperately funny mosaic image of a society, in which people are searching for the meaning of their lives… There are many commentaries in this play, which worked as voice-overs, and many other things I was inspired by… Dea Loher is one of the most important contemporary German female playwrights. In her plays, she often uses principles of Brecht’s theatre. She takes inspiration from physics and of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

She is also very sensitive about her work, she even forbid a performance of the same play in a German theatre, because it wasn't inherent with her text. Would her authorship influence your work at all?
We didn’t cut much from the text, neither changed it in any radical way. But I knew about that case you mentioned. My approach to the original text is different from work to work, it depends on the nature of the project. Sometimes I want to be more dogmatic; sometimes the text is just a kind of entry into the following creative process. All I do, I see it as a challenge – the author as censor would be a challenge as well. But it would also depend on what kind of text it is, and who is the author of it…

At the Biennial, you will be screening a documentary about the making of the performance and fragments of the premiere. Why did you opt for a screening and not for performing the play?
Innocence is a big project, with 26 people in total, 3 cameras, live editing, live music, and realistic set… Sadly, to perform the play would be financially and production-wise very difficult. At the moment we are waiting for the grant’s results, which can hopefully take care of the future of the play. 

What is a live cinema screening, that we will see in Studio ALTA?
Live cinema is a kind of performance, which uses screen media; it is based on advanced digitalization of film, sound and visual technologies. It emphasizes non-narrative elements, like live performance or improvisation. As an audience, you will be witnessing how the movie comes alive, it will be happening live, in front of your eyes. Your attention will travel from the screen to the stage and back from stage to screen. In some moments, the events you will see on screen will be accompanied by different events on stage. Then, in the next moment, just the movie screen will connect all the different events happening on the stage, at the same time… We worked with live camera, live music, live actors, all live and in real time.

What did the possibility mean to you to work in the framework of VARP-PA?
In meant a chance to be able to present my work. I am the kind of director who creates pieces for state theaters as well, but I also work in residencies in order to be more independent in my work, to create my own projects. The VARP-PA program is first of all a great opportunity to be able to work in a very concentrated way, by that I mean to have a chance to escape from the rituals of everyday life and of the needs of the place or the city where you are living.

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