Monday, December 8, 2014

Julia Dobner-Pereira on MOTUS

We left a rained out Sagra to drive back through the hills of Umbria to the magical and ethereal house of La MaMa. A Sagra is an outdoor celebration of life and family that happens most weekends of an Italian summer. This one was rained out, held in a plastic tent with fluorescent lighting and tiny beers. The band left before dinner.

The ride back was dark and turbid, and for the first few minutes we just listened to the rain and thunder that was everywhere. I was happy to be in the MOTUS car, with two soft, heavy heads on my shoulders. We sang softly and Daniela asked for more. Neither Enrico Casagrande nor Daniela Francesconi Nicolò (founders of MOTUS) joined; they just listened with rapt attention, because that is what they do. MOTUS is youth, fire, revolution: urgent political theatre. It is not about creating to match up or pursue, it is creating because that is the only thing to do.

The stormy, beautiful Sagra night ended Enrico and Daniela’s week at La MaMa Umbria. When I think about the summer now, I remember first, effortlessly, three distinct things. I can pull up myriad other tiny kaleidoscope details from my idyllic summer but these come first.

One. A film I created with two other students about monotony, broken patterns, and blasphemy. Enrico and Daniela fired us up and then set us free – giving us only two guidelines: observe someone in town for an hour or so on your own, and then work in a small group to create a one-shot film. The instructions weren’t important. What kindled every film created was the foundation we received during our first workshop with MOTUS. Enrico and Daniela shared footage from their experiences at demonstrations across Europe, occupying an abandoned city in Germany, and, most memorable to me – their time spent on a refugee camp island between Northern Africa and Italy. Never before had I seen politics and theatre converge like this.

Two. Occupy Teatro Valle. Really, for me - physically - this was just posing in a photo. Mentally, it was a heart-racing engagement that made me want to scream. Since then, topped only by the injustice of Ferguson and what is happening right now. In August, The Roman government was trying to take away the theatre of the people – Teatro Valle – and artists like MOTUS reacted fiercely: occupying the space in higher numbers, organizing protests, and starting an international social media campaign that La MaMa Umbria took part in.

Three. The storm. MOTUS examined storms on a personal, political, and environmental plane, and then they went even further, asking people around the world “What does it mean to be in the eye of the storm?” In Umbria, we dealt with this question by interviewing each other while Enrico and Daniela observed. We polarized ourselves to two sides of the room, with a camera, monitor, and microphone at one end. We played with this polarization, interacting in pairs to find ways across the line. Two by two, we took turns interviewing each other, our answers projected through body and voice on the monitor. The intimacy of being interviewed by one person demanded truth, while the knowledge that your words affected the group’s movement and polarization demanded compassion.

MOTUS is doing what we all need to do. They are responding now to what is happening now, not living in a post-70s delusional haze or grasping for some un-nameable immersive technological experience to credit to their names. They will stay up all night to help you work, because they love each other and their work and their actor Silvia and all things that speak with truth.

After that rained-out Sagra last summer, Enrico and Daniela said – “we will dance in New York!” 

Go see Nella Tempesta at La MaMa and dance with Enrico and Daniela after the show on December 13th, when Silvia Calderoni will be DJing after the 8pm performance. Bring blankets to support MOTUS and then warm a body that needs it. Feel the thing you thought you were going to feel when you were 15, dreaming about imaginary art on your bedroom floor.

La MaMa presents

by Motus Theatre

December 11th - 21st, 2014
Thursday - Saturday @ 8pm; Sunday @ 4pm

*Dance party immediately following the Saturday, December 13th performance.  DJ: Silvia Calderoni.  Free for all ticket holders.  Cash bar.

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors; a handful of 10@$10 Tickets are still available for some performances

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE