Beauty, vulnerability, obstination, refusal
We have created the Barba Varley Foundation to actively promote the commitment to the causes and values that have motivated our life in Odin Teatret.
There is a tradition of the impossible in theatre. This is confirmed by the lives of Eleonora Duse, Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, Konstantin Stanislavski, Ellen Terry, Gordon Craig, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Helena Modrzejewska, Adolphe Appia, María Guerrero, Antonin Artaud and Bertolt Brecht. These artists were able to imagine and, at times, realise a theatre considered impossible by their contemporaries. Today they appear to us as pioneers who transcended the horizon of theatre, giving another dimension to our profession which arose as entertainment.
It is in this tradition of the impossible that our Foundation has its roots. It is a tradition that goes beyond a First Theatre centred on text and a Second Theatre dedicated to experimentation. It resurfaces in the varied culture of the Third Theatre groups and of many other theatres that operate in geographical, social and artistic peripheries.
Our Foundation is related to the visions, interests and fields of action of women and men who, from the Living Theater in the United States to Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium in Europe, from La Candelaria in Latin America to the Red Tent of the Karakumi Theatre in Japan, have grafted in a different way the life of the theatre onto the reality of life. We think of the groups and theatre artists who, since the 1970s, have established themselves as autonomous cells of a new system of production and relationships, demonstrating the transformative function of theatre for those who participate in its processes and for those who benefit from its results.
This ethical-professional heritage is a source of inspiration and a concrete example for anyone who today wants to fight for different modes of actor-spectator relationship in an age hungry for change. What would we be without the awareness of what no longer exists? It helps to know that there is a Foundation that appreciates impossible projects.
For this reason, the Foundation turns to the submerged culture of the “nameless” of theatre. Its purpose is to support fields of action animated by people who are disadvantaged by gender, ethnicity, geography, age, way of thinking and acting inside and outside theatre.
The Foundation identifies with some transformative characteristics of theatre:
1. simplicity of action that includes diversity and complementarity, and deals with the inexplicable and the complexity that surrounds us;
2. continuity and persistence of action, in a time with an increasing tendency to disposability;
3. utopia of action that affiliates individuals who think and operate differently from the spirit of the time.
Theatre can be an anthropological laboratory that subverts established ideas and practices. We believe that theatre is politics by other means: those of Beauty, Vulnerability, Obstinacy and Refusal. We started in small amateur groups, Eugenio in Odin Teatret in Oslo, and Julia in the Teatro del Drago in Milan. For more than half a century, our motives have urged us not to give up. Today they encourage us to launch this Foundation.
Know how to use our Foundation, those of you who want to sow butterflies in the imagination of your spectators and of those who don’t come to see you.
HHolstebro-Rome, 15 October 2020