31 oktober – 28 november 2019
Presentation | 28 november during the event: The Handshake ; more info about this event …
I am interested in the religious experience. There are many ways how one can generate this state
in different traditions, reaching from the unifying rituals of the tribal cultures, meditation or the
practices of solitude in the protestant Christianity. This topic is covered in studies of anthropology,
Religion studies and theology.
The anthropologists see Religion as the construction force of society. Roy Rappaport describes
Religion as composed of two interrelated elements of the Sacred and the Numinous. The Sacred
is a function of discourse, and the Ritual the event in which it is realised. The Sacred is what we
know as institutionalised Religion with all its forms of practices. The Numinous, on the other hand,
is an individual experience, an incomprehensible non-discursive element of Religion.
Otto Rudolf in his essay Das Heilige (the Holy) makes a deep analysis of the Numinous from a
theologian and psychological perspective. He describes it as something which can not be
expressed but only can be talked about using analogies of emotional states which are common to
us. He talks about the feeling of Fear, Grace, Dependance and Ecstasy as the emotions which
come close to the Numinous.
In this project, I am interested in exploring the ecstatic state. I am looking for ways how this state
of euphoric excitement can be generated in a group of performers and then be transcended to the
audience. To generate this state I would like to use technics of breathing, sounding and
Breathing is a powerful instrument which can be used to influence the psychic states. In moments
of fear, excitement or aggression our breath changes drastically. I am interested in using the
variations in breath to generate the state of high excitement. In the performative research, I am
planning to try different breath technics inspired by dynamic meditation (Osho), shamanic
practices, pranayama and holotropic breathwork. I have experience in these fields and would like
to see how this technics can be abstracted from the mentioned context and be possibly used to
The voice is another interesting instrument which I am interested in. Similar to breath the voice is
used in various traditions to generate certain states or to create unity among a group of
participants. In the chakra sound meditation, vocals are sang separately related to the chakras to
trigger a certain effect. In ritualistic practices, shouts or songs are performed to create a unifying
experience. Further various humming and chanting techniques are worked with in eastern
traditions to elevate the state of mind. Also in this context, I would like to try to find the core
elements of these techniques and see how it can be used in my work.
Finally movement. Dancing, shaking and various forms of rhythmic movement are used similarly
as the voice and breath. In the Kundalini mediation shaking is an important element to generate
energy in the body which is then further directed. Further movements from dance, shamanic
practices and haha yoga will be a starting point.
If one takes a look at the history of avant-guard theatre then probably Jerzy Grotowski is the one
who deepened the exploration of the religious state the most. In the tradition of Antonin Artaud,
he was trying to elaborate on how the actor can reach a primordial state through physical action.
Grotowski was aware that in our fragmented society the unifying experience of the ritual is not
possible. But he believed that if the actor touches this primordial energy of the human being the
audience through mere watching of it will be able to connect to it as well. However, Grotowski
stoped the Theatre of Production after a few performances and focused his work more on
research and the work with the actor. He saw theatre as a vehicle for the actor to reach a higher
state fo being.
I think that he gave up the exploration of the possibilities to transcend the religious state to the
audience a little early. As Rappaport states it, Ritual is important as it allows the audience to get in
a transcendent state without an extended preparation or training. All these elements are included
in the structure of the ritual. Ritual, therefore, makes these states accessible to ordinary people.
With regard to this, I will look for a way how to incorporate the explored techniques into a
performance and look for ways to engage the audience. It is important for me to fuse these
abstract techniques with motives of daily life and to make them, therefore, more accessible to the
contemporary audience. The question is, what is the foundation fo ritualistic actions and how can
it be translated into the language of contemporary western society? This is a very important point
for me because I think that the mere presentation of something from a distant culture or time or
just something completely detached from the profane reality, can not create the necessary relation
to the audience. As a result, the audience becomes even more distant observing it as an object of
entertainment instead of being drawn into it.
I am aware that it would be easier to achieve these states in the audience by making them do a
certain action. However, I think that the distance with which the people prefer to approach an
artwork not necessary must be challenged through a forceful call for participation. I would like to
look for a more authentic way to create a relation to the work and make the audience part of it.