LA MAMA PRESENTS THEATRE NO THEATRE, A SUCCESSOR TO
THE WORKCENTER OF JERZY GROTOWSKI AND THOMAS RICHARDS,
IN "HAN!," A SOLO WORK BY HYUN JU BAEK,
DIRECTED BY THOMAS RICHARDS.
Solo performance in which three generations of Korean women
are bound together in the "resilient silence" of han.
Director Thomas Richards was the leading protégé of Grotowski
and is considered his artistic heir.
Was February 23 to March 5, 2023, now extended through March 12
Thurs–Sat at 8:00 pm, Sun at 4:00 pm. Added shows: March 9 &10 at 8:00 PM, March 11 and 12 at 3:00 PM.
La MaMa E.T.C. (The Downstairs), 66 East 4th Street
Presented by La MaMa E.T.C. in association with the Polish Cultural Institute and Korean Cultural Center New York, with the support of Fondazione Teatro della Toscana
Tickets $30 gen. adm., $25 students & seniors
First ten tickets are $10 (limit 2 per person)
Ticket prices are inclusive of all fees.
Running time 65 min
Critics are invited to all performances.
NEW YORK, February 2 -- From February 23 to March 12, La MaMa will present Theatre No Theatre, a successor to the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, in the New York premiere of "Han!" The play is a solo work devised and performed by Hyun Ju Baek and is directed by Thomas Richards. In it, a woman explores her generational memories in relation to the Korean concept of han, a combination of sadness and hope that lies at the core of life.
The show is performed in Korean with English subtitles. Director Thomas Richards is making his La MaMa premiere. Assistant Directors are Cécile Richards and Jessica Losilla-Hébrail.
Attired only in a simple flowing dress, performing on a minimalist set (three hanging cloths and a bench) and armed only with the actor's tools of voice, movement and imagination, Hyun Ju Baek takes us back and forth between the ancient myths of "Gojoseon" (the first kingdom on the Korean peninsula), the era of her dead grandmother, her mother's past and her own life. We are entranced as an ancient dance is performed under a neon light, a virgin ghost stares out of the TV, and a baby left alone in an apartment meditates on the nature of solitude. Three generations of Korean women are bound together in the "resilient silence" of han. How will our heroine navigate the sea of expectations that life, family, and nation have thrown her way? Her struggle to understand the complexity of her own han ignites a fire in her mind. It manifests in a dynamic meditation on myth and modernity, weighing the relationship between suffering, sacrifice, and destiny.
Director Thomas Richards is a theater director and former Artistic Director of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Pontedera, Italy. He began as a protégé of Grotowski and became an essential collaborator of the famed Polish director and performing arts theorist, who is considered one of the greatest reformers of 20th century theater and one of the founders of experimental theater. Thomas is the son of famed director Lloyd Richards.
The Korean concept of han as a national characteristic is said to have originated from Yanagi Soetsu's theory of the "beauty of sorrow" and Japanese colonial stereotypes of Korea and its people. Yanagi, a Japanese art critic and philosopher, was influential and popular in Korea. He theorized in the 1920s that Korean art has a "beauty of sorrow" because Korea has long suffered at the hands of foreign countries. As an ideological concept, han is protean and controversial. It has been used to promote "Korean uniqueness" and ethnic-national solidarity through a sense of "shared suffering." Novelist Park Kyon-ni wrote in 1994, "[Han] is not an easy word to understand. It has generally been understood as a sort of resentment. But I think it means both sadness and hope at the same time. You can think of han as the core of life, the pathway leading from birth to death. . ."
Actress Hyun Ju Baek was born in South Korea. Her career developed mainly as a musical theater actress for a decade in Korea. She traveled to London to study theater directing and earned a master's degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. Before joining the Workcenter, Hyun Ju worked as an actress, director, and playwright in both Seoul and London. She wrote, produced and directed many theater pieces including: "Flatmates V Zombies" (Tristan Bates Theatre UK and Camden People's Theatre UK, winner of a fund of the Arts Council of England); "The Lady of Burma" (Moon Light Theatre Korea), "Today and" (commissioned by Kyunggi Cultural Foundation), and "The Sound Factory" (commissioned by the Pusan Cultural Foundation). In 2017, she participated in the Workcenter's Master Course, supported by the Korean Arts Council. After attending another pedagogic encounter with Thomas Richards in Hong Kong, she organized a theater group, The Association for Theatre Craft and Creative Process GB, and held the Seoul Work Encounter in 2018, inviting to Korea the Workcenter's Focused Research Team in Art as Vehicle, which she joined the following year.
ABOUT THOMAS RICHARDS
Director Thomas Richards (B.A. Yale University, M.A. the University of Bologna, Ph.D. University of Paris VIII) was Artistic Director of the research of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards from 1999 to 2022. He began his apprenticeship with Grotowski in 1985 and their work together developed until Grotowski's death in 1999. He is the son of Lloyd Richards (1919-2006), the director, teacher and theater pioneer who discovered August Wilson and nurtured a generation of playwrights and actors as longtime Dean of Yale Drama School (1979-1991).
Thomas Richards arrived in Italy in 1986 with Jerzy Grotowski from the University of California, Irvine, where he had participated in Grotowski's "Focused Research Program in Objective Drama." In Italy, Mr. Richards first worked as Grotowski's assistant, becoming leader of one of the work teams, and ultimately, Grotowski's "essential collaborator" and Director of the Research Program on Performing Arts at the Workcenter. Richards was a fundamental driving force in the research developed at the Workcenter that came to be known as "Art as Vehicle." In 1996, Grotowski decided to change the name of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski to Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards because, as he specified, the direction of the practical work had already concentrated itself in the hands of Thomas Richards.
Following Grotowski’s death in 1999, Richards took over as director of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Pontedera, Italy. Together with Mario Biagini, he is considered Grotowski's universal heir. In January 2022, Richards closed the doors of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. With several ex-colleagues of the Workcenter, Richards opened a new cultural association named Theatre No Theatre, which inherits its artistic existence from the Workcenter and is dedicated to supporting the new theater research of Thomas Richards.
Concerning Richards, Grotowski stated, "The nature of my work with Thomas Richards has the character of ‘transmission'; to transmit to him that to which I have arrived in my life: the inner aspect of the work."
Throughout his career, Mr. Richards has performed in and directed numerous
performance events that have played around the world, and is author of three
books about his work with Grotowski and the Workcenter's performing arts research.
Concurrently with the show, Thomas Richards will lead a masterclass, "The Potential of Song," assisted by Jessica Losilla-Hébrail and Hyun Ju Baek, February 28 to March 2 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at La MaMa. The workshop will consist of practical sessions of work on songs coming from Afro-Caribbean and African traditions, which have been at the core of Richards' performing arts research for over 30 years. The class is open to the general public. Tickets are $250 and available at: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/store/42/pk/133325.
On Saturday, March 4 at 3:00 PM in La MaMa's downstairs Theatre, 66 E. 4th Street, Richard Schechner will moderate a La MaMa Coffeehouse Chronicles program devoted to Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards.
ABOUT LA MAMA
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's 61st "Remake A World" Season believes in the power of art to bring sustainable change over time and transform our cultural narrative. At La MaMa, new work is created from a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and disciplines, influencing how we think about and experience art. The flexibility of its spaces, specifically the newly reimagined building at 74 East 4th Street (La MaMa's original permanent home), gives local and remote communities access to expanded daytime programming. The digital tools embedded in the space allow artists to collaborate remotely, and audiences worldwide to participate in La MaMa's programming.
A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Andrei Serban, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O'Horgan and Andy Warhol. La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.
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Critics are invited to all performances.