Senzorium is a pioneer of sensorial theatre in Slovenia. It originates from a theatre called Teatro de los Sentidos, founded by Enrique Vargas, the creator of the sensorial theatre language.
Sensorial theatre uses sensorial language, incorporating features such as audience interactivity, multisensory perceptions and internationally and interculturally intelligible content. Interactivity is not a technological mode of interaction but a direct and immediate communication between the audience and the performers, which takes place live and in which there are reciprocal connections between all participants. The sensory communication tools also include smell, taste and touch, allowing for greater organic immersion and experience for the audience. Elements of a sensorial theatrical language have emerged over the last two centuries in the experiments and manifestos of important artists from the end of the previous millennium.
In its most recent period, Sensorium brings the sensory tools of immersive effects to the stage, opening up new communication possibilities in the performing arts. It is also transferring its knowledge and skills from theatre practice to the fields of intangible cultural heritage, visual arts, museums, galleries and even opera. Multi-sensory communication and the presentation of artistic and educational content have made their mark in the 21st century in the world and Europe. Educational and museum programmes are particularly keen on multi-sensory communication. Senzorium is applying this type of practice both in Slovenia and abroad.
SENSORIAL AND SENSORY
The last decade has seen many SENSORIAL events involving all the senses. These are primarily audiovisual, intermedia and VR events, where the action is more immersive. More sensuality often involves touching textures or objects, sometimes even a smell.
Sensory events have also come to the fore because of their greater accessibility for people with sensory disabilities. We talk about sensory events when it comes to approaches for the sensory impaired, or in some places, including touch or smell.
Sensorial events also create a more sensory atmosphere, but the method is more complex: it involves sensorial dramaturgy and sensorial interaction with the audience. The latter is poetic, inclusive and supported by various forms of narration, and animation of objects, incorporating elements of emptiness, silence and darkness, vital to the internalisation of experience. We are talking about experiences, not audiovisual information or presentations. The meaning of symbols, rituals, customs, myths and archetypes are included as narrative tools. The cultural context in which the event is developed and performed is essential. Psychological and anthropological findings are often used as a source of inspiration. Sometimes we also rely on the methods of synchronicity and the collective unconscious, according to C.G. Jung, which is a philosophical rather than a scientific approach that opens up and allows freedom of interpellation in the field of art. Storytelling is an essential tool of sensorial language, which can be practiced on a sensory, verbal or motor level. Play and games are the cornerstones of the sensorial approach, creating a refuge for performers and audiences, a safe space to live in a parallel reality. The most crucial tool of sensorial language is the relationship with the audience – not to lead them as followers by the hand, but rather according to the principle of wu wei, active inactivity. We want to awaken the audience with a curiosity stronger than fear. The audience’s trust is based on active listening, total presence, and sensitivity in communication. It empowers the audience to follow their curiosity in the face of unfamiliar circumstances and to let themselves go with the flow of the action. The safety of the audience, the process and the performers is the basic foundation of any project. It is more important than the story, artistic impression, and interpretation. The scenes seek poetry and lightness in all contexts, including the ironic and dark. The poetics of smell, touch and sound speak to us more often than visual images, helping us to open inwards and get in touch with ourselves. The sensorial language turns the theatre inwards; the visitor has more freedom to create his images (rather than those imposed by the director or the concept), while the actors are the inhabitants of their scenes and companions in creating the visitor’s inner theatre.
Enrique Vargas developed the sensorial language with the Teatro de los sentidos in Barcelona, Spain, where I toured for eight years as a core member with whom I still work. Since 2005, under the auspices of the Sensorium Institute, I have been applying sensory language methods in other branches of culture and art, as well as in other fields such as the judiciary, healthcare and the economy.
Barbara Pia Jenič