WHOMAN Can men grow into humans? Am I a man? What am I allowed to do? What am I not allowed to do? What am I supposed to do? Who will tell me? What part of me can be revealed? Can I feel my inner feelings on the outside? We examine the stereotypes, norms and expectations that we have learned, accepted from others, created, automated, and now trying to peel off. We search for possible ways of staging this process of ‘peeling off’. We search for means of communicating without imposing our views, while expressing our feelings. We live in a world we have created ourselves. We are responsible for it. On the stage, we conceive a world where all wo/men can be seen as they are, with their emotions.
We started out by reading Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline C. Perez, followed soon afterwards by The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks. For two years we have explored various topical issues that have emerged since the outbreak of Covid-19: the structuring of the world with regard to those who are ‘smaller and weaker’, contemporary communication and its methods, the ideal of a man, the world as a place suiting only some of us, and emotional maturity... The production has evolved throughout the process as more and more inspirations popped up, such as power-abuse cases at universities and harassment scandals. What remained was the original title and the desire to find a form that best expresses what is often kept quiet because it is considered embarrassing. About the fragility that even men have a right to feel – but they are a minority in the theatre audience. (So if you’re not a man and you’ve read this far, think about which man in your life could use a little fragility and take him to the theatre with you!) We are experimenting with the limits of what we can say in theatre and how, and what the notion ‘theatre’ encompasses. We are not tied by genre, formal or expressive boundaries; we understand the theatrical form as a free territory where everything is possible. Even cry with impunity.
– Jiří Šimek, Peter Šavel and Marta Ljubková
A map and a record of the whole creative process is available at the project’s website neviditelnazena.cz
UFFTENŽIVOT The ensemble is currently composed of creators Sára Arnsteinová and Jiří Šimek, stage operations manager Štěpán Hejzlar and producer Tereza Tomášová. The ensemble has been active in the contemporary independent theatre scene since 2013, creating unique projects straddling physical theatre, performance art, slam poetry and puppetry. Their productions are regularly staged at major Prague, regional and foreign theatres and international festivals. The ensemble’s project KEEP CALM (2017) was nominated for the Best Alternative Production of the Year in the i-divadlo survey. In the same poll, Sára Arnsteinová won the Best Actress category in 2017. In 2020, the ensemble was nominated for the Česká divadelní DNA Award for its work and especially for its unique approach to the audience. Since 2013 the ensemble has created 8 original productions: Little Bunny (2013, DAMU), GoG (2014, Studio ALTA), Loneliness & Stuff (2016, Studio ALTA), KEEP CALM (2017, Alfred ve dvoře), Don’t Be Scared_or Jiřík the Dancer’s Show (2018, Cross Attic), Words of Apology (2019, NOD), What’s Happening (2019, Palác Akropolis) and most recently This is Not a Love Song (2020, Venuše ve Švehlovce). In 2021, they co-produced Lucie Kašiarová’s production Mnohodinec. Ufftenživot combines various disciplines, seeks new ways of stage expression and pushes the boundaries of theatre as such. The creative process always begins with a theme, which evolves through research, improvisation and experimentation to the final form of the production. A characteristic feature of the ensemble’s work is the combination of means of expression (movement, words, puppets, projections) and the emphasis on the presence of the viewer and the performer, their mutual relationship here and now, the nakedness and simplicity of the message. From March 2020, you can listen to the ensemble’s regular podcast Life on Air.
STUDIO ALTA is a multicultural centre known for its dynamic programming and strong, enduring values. It has been part of the Prague’s art and cultural scene since 2008. It is a space for learning, developing new ideas as well as for making mistakes; a place for quality presentations and experimental endeavours. It offers safety and refuge (although sometimes the historic building of Invalidovna, the current seat of Studio ALTA, can feel slightly chilly).