The generosity experience – performance Between Us for Maribor 2012 ECC

The performance Between us is a product of an international project, The Generosity Experience, that started in the Spring of 2010 and lasted until august 2012, as a collaboration between sensorial theatres from Denmark, Belgium, France and Slovenia under the leadership of Enrique Vargas, the founder of sensorial theatre and one of the most influential directors of the past decades. With his magic poetry, he enchanted the public of some of the world’s biggest festivals. His “Oracle of the senses” from 1996 left an indelible mark on Slovenia.

“Between us” searches for inspiration in generosity, a value wholly marginalized in the present-day neoliberal society and rapidly losing its aura of an ideal quality in human beings. In the words of one of the foremost American thinkers and social critics, Christopher Lasch: “People nowadays complain that they are incapable of feeling anything. They chase diverse experiences, trying to reanimate their limp bodies and rejuvenate their numbed zest for life. They condemn the superego and glorify the lost sensual life.” During the performance, through the staging of a village/a city out in the open. Youngsters (picked through auditions in contributing countries, under the mentoring of experienced directors and with the help of sensorial perceptions, take the spectator through playful scenes, opening questions about the system of values, the value of generosity and interpersonal relationships, bridging the void between empathic and entropic forces within and between ourselves.

The international cast, composed of more than 40 people from four countries, got together in July 2012 in Turnhout, Belgium, under the leadership of E. Vargas. Four modules of the performance (Danish, Belgian, French and Slovenian) were intertwined and connected into a whole. They premiered on the 13th of July in Turnhout, Belgium, under the auspices of the Flemish cultural capitol. There were five repeat performances there, followed by one in Rennes, Auray in France, and Viborg, Denmark. On the 7th and 8th of August, they performed in Maribor the European capital of culture, specifically, in “Mestni Park Maribor 6” at 7pm. Three documentary films are produced, documenting the process of the project: Slovenian national television RTVSLO had two of them: Missing links (originaly “Izgubljene vezi”), direction by Haidy Kancler and Between Sexes, Direction by Spela Kuclar. There will also be an independent documentary by young authors: Mathilde and Manon Guyot.
The performances of Senzorium, Teatro de los sentidos and other partnering theatres of The Generosity Experience don’t aim to present art as cultural information but want to create an experience that moves and thus transforms us – even if only in the smallest possible way.

The Generosity Experience project obtained funding from the EACEA Culture Programme 2007 – 2013. The project coordinators are De Warande from Belgium, other partners include Carte Blanche from Denmark, Théâtre à l’envers from France, Turnhout 2012 – The Flemish Capital of Culture from Belgium, Senzorium from Slovenia and Maribor 2012: European Capitol of Culture. The project has been alive since October 2010. In 2011, a website was designed that allowed young people to post their contributions connected to generosity and nobility. Senzorium also carried out two sub-projects, namely Flashmob and Lalabajke. The flashmob was performed on the 25th of June on the butcher’s bridge in Ljubljana, while the Lalabajke project (Goodnight stories) put together 18 performances in different locations: Ljubljana City Library, Botanical Garden in Tivoli Park, Trubar’s House of Literature…

The generosity Experience is an answer to a crisis. The creators search for the missing link between us, the people and the resonance of others within us. Moreover, they share the knowledge and experiences between generations, linguistic groups, cultures, teachers and students.

It is just a play. But a serious one, that will touch you deeply.

Thoughts of Enrique Vargas about the project »If we try to distil the most defining feelings associated with human experiences that we live through each moment, we can define them as feelings of egoism, on the one hand, and feelings of generosity, on the other. When we think about emotions typical for a person or a life principle/philosophy, the conclusion is pretty much the same. We can compare closely with the social forces guiding the world’s economy and politics. Empathic forces, striving towards the acquisition and creation of the desired energy levels, and entropic forces, pulling into the opposite direction. We have these two poles.

In the spectrum of human characteristics that can be subsumed under the label “generosity,” we can, on one side, see those with a pronounced aspect of kindness and nobility – deep inside themselves still prisoners of their own ‘ego’-ism. At the same time, at the other extreme, we find those that lead to the denial of the “Self”.

The word generosity stems from Latin, more precisely from the word ‘genere’, which implies the idea of abundance, providing – provision, creation – and to the resonance of transformation of the current moment into a poetic experience.

The first thing that catches our attention in a theatre performance, installation or any artistic experience in general, is its generosity component– transcendence or its creative dimensions.. The feeling of gratitude that the ‘public’ often feels springs from perceptions like: “it touched me – transformed me”. Or everything left and lingers is a learned/acquired ‘exterior’ feeling of respect.

Let us recall Mayakovsky, who said that those who take risks can lose something, but those who don’t risk anything, lose it all. The risk of opening oneself up to others and experiencing “the other” can be seen as a loss or a path towards transformation. That’s why sensorial theatre relies heavily on the “art of listening”; we ask ourselves what kind of risks listening to someone else and hearing that person bring to life. The question we pose is: how does every beginning of change come from the resonance of what we’ve heard.

Artistic director: Enrique Vargas
Direction and scenography: Benoit Gasnier, Sarah John, Barbara Pia Jenič, Jean-Marie Oriot, Julie Seiller, Inge Van Gestel
Co-production: De Warande (B), De generaal in zijn tuin (B), Turnhout 2012 (B), Carte Blanche (DK), Théâtre à l’envers (F), Senzorium (SI), Maribor 2012 (SI)

§ Performers: Audrey Apers, Katrine Bøtker Laursen, Marieke Breyne, Veronika Brinjšek, Lucille Carlotti, Nace Klemenčič, Maruša čot, Elvira Crois, Aranka De Vries, Margaux Desailly, Lea Filipovič, Benoît Gasnier, Kim Glud, Gabriel Eduardo Hernadez Ladino, Julie Houbart, Alberte Husted Larsen, Simon Janssen, Raphaël Janvier, Barbara Pia Jenič, Sarah John, Urška Klajn, Irma Leroy, Katrine Lundorff, Jonathan Mallard, Amalie Middelboe Andersen, Sigrid Cecilie Moses-Jacobsen, Amalie Munkgaard Olesen, Jean-Marie Oriot, William Petipas, Valentina Plaskan, Thomas Porup, Anja Prusnik, Pierre Riaux-Terrasson, Rebecca Rosseel, Ariane Sartor, Julie Seiller, Lore Soons, Olivia Thomsen, Nina Tind Jensen, Vitomil Bulc Trtnik, Eline Van Coillie, Inge Van Gestel, Liv Vesterskov, Laetitia Viveret