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15 - 24/06/2018

Conference topic: Theater, art and research collectives
When: June 19 (Tuesday), as part of the Malta Festival 2018, at 09.30 a.m. – 5.45 p.m.
Where: Collegium Maius, Fredry str. 10, room 119 (1st floor);
Organizers: Stanisław Godlewski; prof. UAM Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska; Agata Siwiak, Ph.D., from the Theater Department (Institute of Theater and Media Art)
Institutions: Faculty of Polish and Classical Philology (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) and Malta Festival


Idea: Jan Lauwers in his attempts to name the type of work of his team came up with the term "Needlapb" – it was supposed to capture the "need lab" (the desire to experiment and cross borders) bound with the need for intimacy and care (lap) ) "[Nie widzę piękna..., p. 23], which was a refinement, after years of work, the original call that gave the name to the theater: I need company! Many Needcompany critics and observers wrote that Lauwers' collaborators are chosen by him carefully and emotionally, which is not ruled out, because the director "must love them" in order to be able to work and create with them. Needcompany is sometimes shown as a model "collective" team, however, in the above-mentioned descriptions you can see a clear structure: the leader and the rest. The "collectiveness" in this case refers not so much to the structure of the team as for the way of the work, because Lauwers a) consistently invites artists from various areas of art, and b) the team works thanks to a system of grants. These two aspects – the diversity of competences of the creators working together and the non-institutional location of the team – seemed to us interesting starting points for the discussion about contemporary collectives.

We would like to invite you to reflect on the issues of "collectivity" in the theater, artistic and research activities. Glossary the term "collective" appears as a synonym of “team” or “band”, but even intuitively we feel that these are not the same structures. The collective – after years of oblivion – came back as a proposition of a new organization operating on rights other than the existing institutional principles; maybe even it grew out of opposition to them. Polish theater collectives, whose history and contemporaneity are worth re-examining, are similar in some respects, but the two aspects distinguished above are essentially different: the attitude to institution is changeable (obvious striving for permanent financing, and therefore – in our Polish conditions – final consent for institutionalization), as well as group composition and work mode (acting in the collective as the only one or as one of many employment). Equally interesting would be an attempt to look at the collectives arising within the institution: do they burst them from the inside by proposing a different model of action, or are they able to transform / enrich the current mode of work? Finally, it seems extremely important to assess the effects of collectives – both in the theater and other artistic or research environments – which is connected with the question about the need to establish such groups: the goal can be located in a “product” (spectacle, project) that can’t be realized in other conditions, but also just in the creation of a new, friendly, safe (perhaps also non-hierarchical, equality?) working environment that – freeing from various dependencies – simultaneously provides energy and creative freedom, and builds a different type of individual responsibility and commitment.

Plan: (a one-day conference, consisting of two parts: panels’ part and lectures’ part, both open to discussions).

1st panel (9.30 am-11.00 am)
How do the Flemish?
- Jan Lauwers (theatre director, visual artist / Needcompany)
- Lisaboa Houbrechts (theatre director / Kuiperskaai)
- Joris Janssens (Head of Research & Development – Kunstenpunt / Flanders Arts Institute);
Host: Agata Siwiak, Ph. D. (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Katarzyna Tórz (Malta Festival Poznań, programmer)

2nd panel (11.30-01.00)
How do the Polish?
- Justyna Sobczyk (theatre pedagogue and theatre director; subject: Theater 21 as a collective / social projects and collectivity)
- Michał Borczuch (theatre and film director; subject: Possibilities of collective work in institutional theaters, collectives in participatory projects)
- Sonia Roszczuk (actress; subject: Actor in collective work)
Host: Stanisław Godlewski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Tomasz Kowalski, Ph.D. (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)

Conference presentations (between 2 pm and 6 pm, 20 minute talks + discussion)
Proposed lectures:
- Piotr Morawski, Ph. D. (Warsaw University): Collective and the institution. Teatr Ziemi Mazowieckiej
- Monika Kwaśniewska, Ph. D. (Jagiellonian University in Kraków): Institutional theater and work in a collective from the perspective of actors
- Prof. Grzegorz Niziołek (Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków): Possibilities of collective work at an art school
- Prof. Agnieszka Jelewska and Michał Krawczak, Ph.D.: Research and artistic collectives and the new humanities
- Agata Siwiak, Ph.D. (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań): Inclusive collectives
- Stanisław Godlewski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Małgorzata Jabłońska (UJ), Justyna Michalik (The Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences), Zofia Smolarska (The Theatre Academy in Warsaw), Research collective - the concept and conducting a summary discussion in the formula of the "performative table": Creative Collective in Poland.

Issues to consider during panels, speeches and discussions:
What is the collective and what constitutes it? How is it different from other types of collaborative artistic and research work?
What is the significance of the institutional conditions and mechanisms and the political system in the case of collectives?
Democratization of work: utopia or necessity?
Can there be a collective without a strong leader?
What is the meaning of private relations and emotions of group members in collective work?
Interdisciplinary and diverse capacities of members of collectives – what do they bring to work and how do they translate into the aesthetics of performances??
Can collectives be an alternative to the dominant policy, production and work systems?
What are the historical roots of collectives in Poland? Alternative and off-theaters, avant-garde, official non-institutional (laboratory) theaters of the PRL period (Grotowski, Kantor)?
Is it possible to adapt foreign systems of collective work in Poland?
What factors determine the stability and sustainable development of collectives?

WELCOME June 19!