Theatrical variations around a sequence of Indian martial art

Exercises presents four actors - musicians performing a series of theatrical variations around the same sequence of Kalaripayattu, a traditional form of Indian martial art. Each of them has chosen a style or a theatre convention, and has adapted the original physical pattern to the new context. The original Indian sequence is preserved rigorously, but only in its pre­-expressive and dynamic essence. In this way it can originate a clown scene, an Italian storytelling, a scene inspired from pantomime and classical ballet, or a serenade played with an accordeon in the style of tango. All this is a playful exercise, which can provide examples and inspiration for the actor's own training and dramaturgy. But the last scene should make everything clear: no technique can be an aim in itself. It can only be the secure base to dance without danger around the most delicate regions of ourselves. Around death and love.

Traditional formalized structures (not only theatrical forms but also martial arts) are extraordinary models for the physical dramaturgy of a contemporary actor. Hidden behind the beauty and the profusion of stylized details, they contain very powerful dynamic patterns with refined scores of impulses and counterimpulses; this constantly modifies the distribution of weight and balance in the practitioner, in a continuos variation which is the essence of dance. Traditional scores from martial arts present in the clearest way a very complex vectorial and spatial composition, where the organicity of the action meets the aesthetic refinement of choreography. In martial arts all the segments of any sequence are in fact always based on a set of prototypical "real actions" (hitting, kicking, blocking etc.), which are structurally "in relationship" with something or someone, and can be the dynamic model for any other kind of action. This is why martial arts are a very powerful basis for the development of the actor's stage presence and dramaturgy. But in order to enjoy their richness, it must be possible to go beyond the forms and access this hidden dynamic dramaturgy. There are some very specific technical procedures, described by theatre anthropology, which give the possibility to isolate the pattern of impulses, the dance of weight and the spatial composition, in order to compose them into new and completely different theatrical materials, new scores that develop the same dynamic basis in a completely different stylistic context. The new materials retain something fundamental of the original richness but completely reinvent the forms and the external composition.


Directed by Pierangelo Pompa, with Domenico Mannelli, Sara Moscardini, Alice Occhiali, Barbara Tholozan.

A coproduction Altamira Studio Teater / Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, a research project by Altamira Studio Teater