Who are we?
We are the Seed Group: an ensemble of NYC-based individuals from various professional, artistic, and cultural backgrounds. We were brought together in a project of the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. Most of us met and worked with the Open Program for the first time earlier this year, while some of us have already had a long-standing relationship with the Workcenter. Their work moved us and made us move, shaping our collaboration toward a long-term project in the USA: the NYC Revival Dream.
What is the Open Program?
The Open Program is one of two teams currently active at the Workcenter (Pontedera, Italy): a center for research into the actor’s craft that is of truly world-wide significance. The living legacy of the Workcenter's world-renown founder, a major figure in 20th century theatre theory and practice, Jerzy Grotowski, is research in the area of Art as vehicle: the actor's work on him/herself. The Open Program's current work seeks to bridge this ongoing research to wider social realities—meeting, interacting and working with local communities through different kinds of performative works and practices. Seeking to discover the nucleus of theatre and performance, the moment of a meaningful contact between human beings on a common ground beyond cultural and other perceived differences, the Open Program is asking: what can the elements of culture in the sharedworkofour artisticcraft be a vehicle for in the context of a community and between communities? What are its intrinsic and social potentialities? How can a theatre piece, a concert, a feast, a holiday, provide a common ground for contact and transformation of perception?
Since its inception, 29 years ago, the Workcenter's praxis and research has been articulated from the practical basis of a research on ancient songs of the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. For 7 of those years, the Open Program, a team of international performers directed by Mario Biagini, has been tracing a new branch of this research: an in-depth exploration of old African-American songs of the U.S. South and of different forms of artistic creation and event, as vehicles for contact and meeting. This is a search for artistic competences and uniquely articulated capacities of meaningful interaction within and between communities, based on the recognition of unique individual as well as shared cultural resources.
What are we doing?
In the winter of 2014, the Open Program launched a completely self-produced two-month program of performances, workshops, and meetings in NYC, reaching out to various individuals and communities throughout the city. They initiated weekly Open Choir sessions at West Park Presbyterian Church: meetings open to all, where people could explore the work on songs by direct participation. The Seed Group emerged out of this larger fluid group, unified by the desire to continue exploring these songs and to sustain the work of the Open Choir. Since the formation of the group, with the continued long-distance mentorship of the Open Program, the Seed Group has been meeting weekly at West Park Presbyterian, as well as in smaller groups, to pursue the work of rehearsing and researching together.
What are we raising funds for?
Continuing to work in collaboration with the Open Program to develop our practice and to reinstate and sustain the weekly Open Choirs, our wish is to create a space for the possibility of a meeting based on artistic and human values beyond all perceived boundaries or dislocations.
We have initiated this campaign to raise funds to bring the director of the Open Program, Mario Biagini, along with three members of the team, back to NYC for four weeks in June and July 2014. With their guidance we will continue to refine our work, thus creating the basis for a sustainable and mutually nurturing practice among ourselves and alongside local communities. During this visit of the Open Program, we will also begin to explore and implement various Seed Group proposals toward the long-term project. This month-long work together will culminate in a two-day Symposium, hosted at West Park Presbyterian, featuring both practical and discursive explorations of the function of song in artistic and community practices.
The funds raised through this campaign will go toward the flights and accommodation of the four Open Program members for the duration of this work in NYC. In addition to monetary contributions, we are also gratefully accepting in-kind donations for the accommodations of these four international artists in NYC.
What’s in it for you?
Ever since our initial encounter with them, we have found that the work done by the Open Program with these songs has the potential to reveal creative forces and capacities, and to develop competencies that can help us to interact in new ways with our surroundings, touching upon the richness and depth of humanity that lies within each of us. This work can transform, nourish, and empower ourselves and others.
By contributing to this campaign, you are helping our effort to keep this creative power alive, by perfecting our artistic craft as a tool for human communion. Our incentives (listed below) are merely a small way of signaling our gratitude, and range from public thank you’s on social media outlets, to a private performance of the Open Program for you and your friends. We hope that whatever you can contribute monetarily to this project, that you will come to witness this work first-hand, as it continues to grow and develop over the coming months in NYC. In the end, your most important contribution is your acceptance of the invitation we now extend to you to participate in this process directly. We will be most happy to see you at the next Open Choir, at our Symposium, or to meet you soon wherever in the world you may be!
Find About This Campaign: