'The Chorus of Women' at the Belfast Festival at Queen's

The theatrical-social project based on the tradition of the collective comment.

'The Chorus of Women', Photo: Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw

17 - 18 of October, 6.30pm and 8.30pm
Lyric Theatre Studio
55 Ridgeway Street
Belfast, BT9 5FB
Tickets: TBA
Festival Box Office 028 9097 1197
Book online

This Is the Chorus Speaking:
Only six to eight hours, only six to eight hours…

Concept, libretto, direction: Marta Górnicka
Score: IEN
Choreography: Anna Godowska
Scientific and literary co-operation: Agata Adamiecka
Conductor consultation: Agnieszka Symela
Costumes and set design co-operation:
Maja Wolak, Anna Maria Karczmarska
Production: The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw
With the participation of: 
Maniucha Bikont, Justyna Chaberek, Alina Czyżewska, Paulina Drzastwa, Alicja Herod, Anna Jagłowska, Natalia Jarosiewicz, Katarzyna Jaźnicka, Ewa Konstanciak, Ewa Kossak, Katarzyna Lalik, Agnieszka Makowska, Kamila Michalska, Natalia Obrębska, Marta Ponichter, Anna Rusiecka, Monika Sadkowska, Kaja Stępkowska, Karolina Szulejewska, Olga Szymula, Iwona Tołbińska, Agata Wencel, Karolina Więch, Ana Wodzyńska, Anna Wojnarowska.
Premiered at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw on 13 June 2010.

Listen to the chorus
As it spits sand lingering in the throat
As it takes the floor
As it constructs the Tower of Babel.
Who is the chorus?
Modern drama excluded it, dumped sand on it
and sentenced to silence
Today THE CHORUS OF WOMEN wants to regain, to create voice

'The Chorus of Women' is a modern form of chorus theatre. The libretto of the performance is based on cultural texts including excerpts from Antigone, on works by Barthes, Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, as well as phrases from everyday language, commercial slogans, recipes, quotations from films and fairy tales. Forgotten notes and the sound of the TV set will also resound. A modern tragic chorus is composed of women of various professions and various ages. It undermines linguistic clichés and reveals the language in its ideological dimension: it speaks with the words of excluded texts.

'The Chorus of Women' experiments and researches the following areas: memory - it recalls Polish songs, forgotten drama texts, as well as chorus songs from ancient dramas; voice - it searches for a chorus voice detached from the language, for example in rhythms, echolalia or in a drone; and finally gender - it tries to regain and re-create the voice and the language of a woman in culture  and gender -  tries to regain - create the voice and the language of a woman in culture.

'The Chorus of Women' started their work at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw with a casting on 1 December 2009. When selecting the participants of the project, age or previous acting or musical experience was not taken into consideration. A group of 28 women was selected out of 130 people. The work of the chorus started with a movement and a vocal workshop at the beginning of January 2010.

Marta Górnicka – director and singer. She graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin School of Music in Warsaw, and from the Faculty of Drama Directing of the Theatre Academy in Warsaw. She also studied at the Warsaw University and the State Drama School in Cracow. Author of the film “Crave. A sketch of recording according to Sarah Kane” (“Łaknąć. Próba zapisu wg Sarah Kane”), opened at the Revealed/Hidden Festival (Festiwal Odkryte/Zakryte) in the G. Holoubek Dramatyczny Theatre in Warsaw. She collaborated, among other artists, with Robert Wilson at "Symptoms / Akropolis" by Gabriella Maione and Stanisław Wyspiański in the Dramatyczny Theatre in Warsaw, as well as with Redbad Klijnstra and Swietłana Butskaja while working on voice in the theatre. She has also recorded a CD with Astor Piazzola’s songs for the Polish Radio. She prepared stage readings of dramas (“Antigone” by Sophocles, and “Prisoners” by Filippo Tomaso Marinetti) in the Laboratorium Dramatu Theatre in Warsaw. Since December 2009 she has collaborated with the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute as the director of “The Chorus of Women”.

The modern drama broke up with the chorus, thus depriving itself of a certain dimension of the tragic -  says Marta Górnicka, the director of Chorus -  We must restore the chorus to the stage and find new forms of its theatrical presence; we have to restore women to the chorus. The Chorus of Women will shout, whisper and sing. It will treat words as music. It will change language into voice, it will initiate its subversive force.

'The Chorus of Women' was voted one of the best performances of alternative and musical theatre in a plebiscite of the "Teatr" magazine.

Reviews from Polish Press:

Katarzyna Czeczot, “The Chorus of Women Mixes for Antigone”, krytykapolityczna.pl 02.07.2010

"Marta Górnicka, the librettist of 'The Chorus of Women', inserts into it one of the lines pronounced by the chorus from the tragedy by Sophocles: the male chorus, as Sophocles gave priority to such a chorus. Similarly, she appropriates all other lines. Her libretto is conceived of as a bewildering collage; bewildering since the dynamics of consecutive phrases benefits from all possible registers, from a weak squeal to invasive orders, from coquettishness, in which at times incertitude and at times fear resound, to an angry roar. Regular chants equally coexist with moments of complete cacophony (…) Clashes of languages, as well as tension created by the repeated gestures of separation and unification, breaks and alliances, the fragility of this chorus, so remote from a compact group, whose  force is unity – all these make an unusual, hypnotising and electrifying enterprise. Its message combines the energy of rejection with purifying therapy: a combination that I regarded as impossible until The Chorus of Women. The enunciated text splits into quartets, duets and single voices. One of the lines interrupts another or several resound at once; the chant turns into noise, but when it returns into pure tone there is a tension in it, behind which you can feel the determination of all the singers. This is a chorus on the verge of collapse, performing, as if convinced of its mission, an anthem of integration.”

Joanna Derkaczew, “Women protest in chorus”, "Gazeta Wyborcza" 18.06.2010

"In inviting 28 women and girls, cooks, princesses, girl scouts and mothers to the chorus, director and vocalist Marta Górnicka restored the tradition of the collective comment, accusation and wailing, being such a frequent motif of ancient tragedies. The chorus girls, cooped up tightly, at times stand taking fighting positions, at times fall apart, slumped onto the floor or wiggling their hips joyfully in loose groups. Happy preschoolers, seducers, Amazons: you can form any image of this female mass. They chant cake recipes, training songs for “bad-lassies if requested” (such as "Teach me Tiger" by April Stevens), commercial slogans, texts inspired by Antigone or Simone de Beauvoir. Childlike voices: melodious, soft, darkened. The hoarseness conceals erotic invitation, the hoarseness is evidence of an unenviable life. Almost every voice provokes the question: what prompted the owner to stand in this mad, revolted line? (…) This theatrical-social project has many features of collective therapy. At certain moments one can have impression that it does not surpass the old conclusion: “your lot is hard, woman, but you have unusual force”. However, this roaring crowd strikes with irresistible energy, which enters deep into your body.”

Aneta Kyzioł, “To Chant Femininity”, “Polityka” 15.07.2010

“Over one hundred women appeared at the casting for The Chorus of Women, a performance by Marta Górnicka. They differ from one another in age, life experiences and professional careers. What they have in common is their femininity and the problem of defining it in a way that gets to the truth about them and at the same time avoids numerous stereotypes. They tell us about their feeling of being lost using the excerpts of Antigone by Sophocles, the works by Simone de Beauvoir, pieces of commercials, the choruses of pop hits, motifs from fairy tales, films, operas and… recipes. Since early childhood they have been fed on fairy tales about Snow White dying and waiting for the kiss of the prince that is supposed to bring her back to life, and with films about sex bombs, a sort of Lara Croft, whose intelligence and knowledge is only a meaningless addition to their silicon breasts and sensuously parted lips. As well as with stories about women’s devotion in the style of “Halka”  by Moniuszko, whose eponymous character, deceived and abandoned, finally forgives her unfaithful lover and withdraws obediently, in a feminine way. The Chorus of Women is a feminine disagreement on imposed visions of femininity. Shouted, chanted, sung and whispered disagreement for voices, solo and chorus. Constructive disagreement.”

Piotr Gruszczyński, “A choir is infallible sometimes", „Dialog” 12.2010
“The most incredible thing about this choir is that it blows itself up from the inside. It needs very little time to cease being a formal choir, i.e. a body focused on unified expression. Every singer assumes her own identity and starts stealing the viewer's attention. Despite the unison, a polyphony resounds and we behold it with great faith that every singer in this choir has regained her own voice: in this choir and thanks to it. That is why, when, at the end of their powerful performance, they lay down on the floor and perform their modest, one-word solos, we clearly see that the choir simultaneously exists and doesn’t. That it really is a collection of individuals joined by a common cause. Such choirs are remarkable. The rest can leave.”

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