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Teatr ZAR

Armine, Sister

(2013, US Premiere)

Sun. — Tue. & Thu. May 24-26, 28 8:00pm
Fri. — Sat. May 29-30 9:00pm
Herbst Pavilion
Tickets: $30 General Admission

Presented by Teatr Zar and SFIAF
in association with Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble and Golden Thread Productions (duration 90 minutes)


These performances of Armine, Sister were made possible in part by the generous support of the Koret Foundation, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the City of Wroclaw, the Western Arts Federation, the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles.


Armine, Sister refers to the history of the Armenian people in Anatolia and their near-extermination at the beginning of the 20th century in what became known as the Armenian Genocide. The project focuses on the history of the world’s silence on the subject of the Genocide and is a reflection on the act and inheritance of witnessing. Armine, Sister explores Anatolian monodic traditions. The project marks the further evolution of Teatr ZAR’s vocal competence built for over ten years and resulting from their experience performing polyphonic songs. Armine, Sister also marks another new dimension in the evolution of Teatr ZAR. The project is the first manifestation of the group refers to as WITNESS/ACTION. The project is followed by social media campaign WITNESSME.

Teatr ZAR is the resident company at the Grotowski Institute. The company emulates Jerzy Grotowski’s ethos of ensemble work and develops its productions through a process of creating its own theatrical language. A language that, like Grotowski’s in the last years of his life, utilizes Eastern Orthodox music as a source for the creation of a performance that seeks to recreate the very roots of theatre.

The company is a multinational group that was formed during annual research expeditions to Georgia between 1999 and 2003. During these expeditions, they collected much musical material, including a core of centuries-old polyphonic songs that have their roots in the beginning of the human era and are probably the oldest forms of polyphony in the world. Zar is a name of funeral songs performed by the Svaneti tribe who inhabit the high regions of the Caucasus in north-west Georgia. Teatr ZAR attempts to demonstrate that theatre does not only relate to thea (Greek for seeing) but it is something that above all should be heard.


Members of Teatr ZAR

Jarosław Fret - founder and leader of Teatr ZAR, theatre director and actor; director of the Grotowski Institute; lecturer of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School, Filia in Wrocław, curator of the theatre programme of Wrocław: European Capital of Culture 2016. In 1999–2002 he carried out a series of expeditions to Georgia, Armenia and Iran, conducting research into the oldest forms of religious music of Eastern Christianity. In the following years together with members of Teatr ZAR he organized expeditions to Athos Mountain in Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, Armenia, Turkey, and Izrael. Director of four performances of the theatre: three parts of the Triptych Gospels of Childhood have been seen in Los Angeles, Florence, San Francisco, Chicago, Sybin, Athens, Edinburgh, Madrid, Belgrade, Paris, Cairo, Seoul, Rio de Janeiro and New Delhi.

He lectures and leads work sessions in Poland and internationally. Awards and honors: in 2009 Teatr ZAR was named Best New Music Theater by Los Angeles Times; winner of a 2010 Wrocław Theatre Prize for the Gospels of Childhood. The Triptych. Originator and coordinator of numerous Polish and international projects within the Grotowski Institute, including the UNESCO-declared Grotowski Year 2009, the Masters in Residence programme and the International Theatre Festival “The World as A Place of Truth”. His efforts led to the opening, in 2010, of Na Grobli Studio, a new location of the Grotowski Institute.

Ditte Berkeley (Denmark/UK) is a performer and co-creator in Teatr ZAR theatre company and researcher at the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław. As well as being a theatre practitioner she is responsible for the cyclical VoicEncounters and was co-organizer with CPR (Wales) of the international festival “Giving Voice” in Wrocław in 2009. She collaborates with Studio Matejka and is responsible for their vocal/singing training. Co-leader of workshops: “Into the Sound” with Teatr ZAR, Awakening the Listening Body with Matej Matejka. She was brought up in Spain and studied theatre the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in London.

Przemysław Błaszczak - an actor; he has been associated with the Grotowski Institute since 1995. He studied philosophy at the Wrocław University. From 1996 to 1999 he worked with Song of the Goat Theatre, where he performed in Dithyramb. In 2002–2003 he created a solo performance, Ecce Homo. Since 2004, he has been an actor with Teatr ZAR; he performs in Gospels of Childhood. The Triptych and in Armine, Sister performance. Starting from 2012 he collaborates with Theodoros Terzopoulos and performs in Heiner Müller’s Mauser directed by the Greek director. Since 2005, he has studied the Japanese martial art of aikido under sensei Piotr Masztalerz (5th Dan). In 2011 he studied under Juba Nour Shihan (6th Dan) in Baja California, Mexico. He is currently training to become an aikido teacher. In 2005 he was in Japan, invited by Toshi Tsushitori, practicing shintaido, a Japanese system that integrates voice and body through training based on traditional Japanese karate.

Kamila Klamut has a degree in cultural studies from the University of Wrocław. Since mid-1990s she had been closely associated with the Centre for Study of Jerzy Grotowski’s Work and for Cultural and Theatrical Research, and then, since 2007, with the Grotowski Institute. In 1996, at the invitation of Grzegorz Bral and Anna Zubrzycka, she took part in forming Song of the Goat Theatre and performed in its first piece, Song of the Goat: Dithyramb. Since 1999 she has collaborated with Jarosław Fret, with whom she has been on several expeditions searching for the oldest extant forms of music. She co-initiated the founding of Teatr ZAR, and appears in all three parts of Gospels of Childhood. The Triptych. She also takes part in the new project Armine, Sister.

Aleksandra Kotecka - member of Teatr ZAR since 2004. Involved in the creation of the performances Cesarean Section, Anhelli and Armine, Sister. MA in Russian philology at The University of Wrocław, graduated also in film and television production studies in Warsaw. Works on Georgian polyphonic singing – both during field expeditions and as part of her own research. Within her main field of interest there is also the music of orthodox Christianity, which she encountered in Lviv, Saint Petersburg, and Supraśl. She shares with the effects of her work during workshops. Apart from the projects of Teatr ZAR, she co-created music for the performance Heresy Black by Sineglossa theatre and for the film Daas. Plays the cello. Since 2008 practices Ashtanga Yoga, and trains parkour since 2011, under the tuition of Laurent Piemontesi. With the project Armine, Sister, she broadens her experience by Persian and Armenian modal music.

Magdalena Mądra - graduate in Polish philology and in culture studies at the Wroclaw University. From 2007 to 2009 she was a PhD student at the Wroclaw University, working under the supervision of Prof. Janusz Degler on the paratheatrical period of the Laboratory Theatre. Currently a PhD student in the Department of Performance Studies at the Faculty of Polish Philology, Jagiellonian University. She is preparing her thesis on Jerzy Grotowski’s work from the perspective of gender studies under the supervision of prof. Dariusz Kosiński. She co-ordinates the administrative activities at the Grotowski Institute. A manager and a member of Teatr ZAR. A photographer. Graduate from the International School of Photography Kwadrat in Wrocław.

Simona Sala - she has been working for seven years with the Italian company Sineglossa. Four years ago, during their project Heresy Black, she first attempted to introduce Parkour to her actor training. She then began collaborating with Laurent Piemontesi (founder of Yamakasi) and his practice became a key point of reference within her body work. Since 2011 she is working with Teatr ZAR, she performs in Armine, Sister performance.

Orest Sharak - was born in Carpathian in Ukraine. In 2005 he started to study acting in Franko National University in Lviv. From 2007 to 2011 he worked in Les Kurbas Theatre, where he performed among others in Metamorphosisbased on Ovidius (2007), Five elements based on the parables of Zen (2007), Bohdan by Klim (2009), Symposium by Plato (2009), King Lear by Shakespeare (2010). In 2009 with some actors of the theatre he established ethno-ambient ensemble Kurbasy, whose work was focused on exploring drama in Ukrainian songs. In that time he also collaborated with Lalish Teaterlabor (Viena), Tomasz Bazan (Teatr Maat Project, Lublin), Mariana Sadovska (Cologne). In 2012 he became an actor in Teatr ZAR: he performs in Caesarean Section. Essays on Suicide and Armine, Sister. In 2012, after expedition to Sicily, he became a member of In Medias Res ensemble, which works with liturgical songs from Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. He plays on different musical instruments from various world cultures.

Tomasz Wierzbowski - member of Teatr ZAR since 2005. Actor and musician in the performances Gospels of Childhood, Cesarean Section, Anhelli. The Calling, and Armine, Sister. MA in English at the Wroclaw University, author of the Polish translation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ Report to Greco. Greatly interested in Georgian polyphony which he acquainted during Teatr ZAR’s expeditions to Tbilisi and Svaneti. In the project Armine, Sister he broadens his vocal experience through the work with modal music. Learns to play the kanun under the tuition of Aram Kerovpyan.

Armenian Guest Singers and Musicians

Aram Kerovpyan was born in Istanbul. As a youth, he received liturgical chant training in the Armenian Church. He learned to play the kanoun and studied the Middle Eastern music system with master musician Saadeddin Öktenay. In 1977, he moved to Paris where he devoted himself entirely to music, playing with various Middle Eastern musicians. In 1980, he joined the Ensemble de Musique Arménienne that later became Kotchnak. From this date on, Armenian music became his principle field of research, particularly the modal system of liturgical chant. In 1985, he formed Akn, an ensemble of Armenian liturgical chant. Parallel to his activities as a musician, Aram Kerovpyan participates in conferences, lectures in Europe and in North America, publishes articles and does research in the field of Armenian modal music theory. He is a doctor of musicology. Since 1990, he is the master-singer of the Armenian cathedral in Paris.

Vahan Kerovpyan was born in Paris, now lives in Porto. He is musician, instrumentalist and composer. He leads workshops on drum and percussion playing, on which he performs since childhood. For several years he followed courses of dehol with Edmond Zartarian, also zarb and dap with Madjid Khaladj. Moreover, he plays piano and sings in the Armenian choir Akn. He is a member of Kotchnak since 2003 and a musician of the Medz Bazar collective, formed in Paris in 2012. He completed Armenian studies at the French National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), also studied history at the Sorbonne University (IV). He collaborates with artists, composing music for performances, playing and singing alive. He participates in projects connected with preservation and development of the Armenian cultural heritage, among others he leads classes for Armenian children, publishes articles, works in renovation of the Armenian monuments in Turkey.

Murat Içlinalça was born in 1985 in Istanbul. He has been a student of Armenian church music since he was 8 years old, having Nisan Çalgıcıyan as master. He has studied singing and folk music at the Istanbul Technical University Music Conservatory, from which he graduated in 2010. At same year he was appointed master singer at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church in Istanbul.

Dengbej Kazo was born in 1950 in Van and now lives near Istanbul. He often gives concerts performing both popular Kurdish songs and his own compositions. He also improvises in keeping with the tradition of the dengbej (travelling Kurdish singers and storytellers). In 1960 the Turkish government officially banned the practice of the dengbej. In the 1980s many of the dengbej had to move to the cities in search of safety and work, and settled in their poorest sections. The dengbej tradition started to fade into oblivion. In 2003 a number of EU-funded projects were begun to protect this tradition. The memory of the dengbej is a rich fund of knowledge about Kurdish history and tradition. Documentation efforts are now underway to describe this extraordinary phenomenon of voices that embody the past.

Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat were both trained in classical Persian singing by master musicians in Iran as well as in regional and traditional Iranian music. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran, public female singing was banned and even some years after the revolution female singers can only perform for women-only audiences or alongside a male voice, and can never perform solo in public. But many female singers in Iran have continued singing regardless, as have Mahsa and Marjan, who give private concerts in Iran but mostly perform outside of the country. Their repertoire is inspired by regional and traditional music from Iran with their own musical expression; their lyrics are mostly mystical and love poems by great Persian poets like Hafez, Rumi, Saadi, who lived several centuries ago, as well as contemporary Iranian poetry speaking about Iranian society. An active campaigner for human rights, Mahsa gives numerous benefit concerts and, with Marjan, is also one of the ambassadors of Freemuse, an independent international organisation advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. She has attracted considerable attention recently with her work on the record Lullabies from the Axis of Evil.


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