La MaMa Umbria: International Symposium for Directors

15th Annual International Symposium for Directors/

Theatre-makers: Theatre for Social Change and Community Engagement

Approaching theatre for social change from a variety of perspectives, the Program brings together master artists who focus on the practical application of theatre practices as a means for involving communities in social and political issues.

Session One: June 30 – July 14, 2014

Session Two: July 16 – July 30, 2014

Teaching Artists: Chen Alon (Israel), Enrico Casagrande & Daniela Nicolo (Italy), Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichorn (Bolivia/Germany), Natalia Kaliada & Nikolia Khalezin (Belarus), Jessica Litwak (USA), Dijana Milosevic (Serbia), Roberto G. Varea (Argentina)

Click Here for Registration Form. Deadline: May 15, 2014. Limited spaces available

The International Symposium for Directors/Theatre-makers, sponsored by La MaMa Umbria is a training program for professional directors, choreographers, actors and others. Internationally renowned theatre artists conduct workshops and lecture/demonstrations. During the Symposium, participants will travel to Umbrian towns such as Orvieto, Perugia  or Assisi to get a taste of Umbrian art and culture. Performances at local arts festivals and community fairs are also included.  In addition, participating directors may conduct their own workshops to share insights and techniques with their colleagues.

Participants will be exposed to a variety of theatrical perspectives during the Symposium, from instructors who will expand their sense of what is possible in the theatre. Directors attending the Symposium see how prominent artists on the international scene create their unique productions. The workshops are participatory, and it is expected that all attendees will engage actively in the processes of the various teaching artists.

Each year LaMaMa invites renowned theatre artists to participate as teaching artists during the Symposium. This summer, we will host the following artists:

Session One

Teaching Artists: Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichorn, Dijana Milosevic,

Belarus Free Theatre (Natalia Kaliada & Nikolia Khalezin)

Workshop Descriptions:

Theatre of the Oppressed & Playback Theatre (Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichorn)

The Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre are two of the most engaging, participatory and forward-looking theatrical methods in the 21st century. Founded in Brazil and the United States of America, respectively, TO and PT aim at creating opportunities for the democratisation of the theatre by handing over the theatrical means of production to the people with the aim to make a contribution to the peaceful transformation of our oppressive realities.

In TO and PT, every human being is theatre in the sense of all of us being both the main actors and spectators of our own lives. At the same time, the word “to act” is seen in a more comprehensive manner: to act on stage and to take action in real life. Action that will help unleash our untapped creative potential. Action that will transform fear into friendship, disappointment into hope, knowledge into understanding, hesitation into action and individual efforts into collective power for the purpose of building a peaceful, just and democratic society.

Concretely, during the individual sessions participants will familiarise themselves with the theory and practice of both the Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre. Combining different techniques of TO such as Image Theatre, Forum Theatre and Rainbow of Desire with the different artistic PT forms, the participants will take away a great deal of artistic and socio-political inspiration that will enrich their theatre practice while also providing ample opportunities for human development.


From Personal To Collective History (Dijana Milosevic)

A Workshop for Directors and Actors conducted by experienced director and founder of DAH Theatre, Dijana Milošević. The workshop is designed for professionals offering each the choice to work as director or actor. The starting point is to work with different skills and techniques, which help in the formation of the actor’s physical and vocal training. This leads to the creation of material that can be used for a performance. The central theme to be explored in the workshop is connection of the history that we all share in relation to the personal history of each participant.

Artist’s Own Experience  (Belarus Free Theatre (Natalia Kaliada & Nikolia Khalezin))

Central to our creative method of Total Immersion is the artist’s experience of their own in-depth examination of personal and social taboos; psychologically, locally and globally. Therefore the theatrical material is made from the first-hand experience of its creators. The Total Immersion method is central to BFT’s artistic interpretation of the classical texts through contemporary material. It is also a key to the development of BFT’s creative language of combining contemporary documentary and classical material.

Belarus Free Theatre offers a model of training previously tried out with students of The Young Vic Theatre and Almeida Theatre, London, the Nottingham Playhouse – UK; ENSATT, Lyon – France; Brown University, New
-York University, California Institute of Arts , CalArts – USA; European Humanitarian University, Vilnius – Lithuania and the School of Arts DasArts, Amsterdam – the Netherlands. This model combines individual and collective work, ensuring maximum involvement in the learning process for each student.

One of the foundations of the training is the work with documentary material, when the student researches first hand information and presents it to the group for them to work on it throughout the devising process. During a cycle of work, the student develops their abilities in various roles: a journalist, playwright, actor, artist, and producer.

Subjects from the developed material are chosen on the first two days of the course, when students, together in a group, determine the pressing current zones and the sore points of the region, or a specific group of people. As a result of this work individual segments of each student will be singled out to participate in a collective project. This experience will enable students in the future to proceed expeditiously with the analysis of actual fields in the creation of products.

The parallel courses of individual and collective work allow students to get interested in different models of interaction – along the lines of “the playwright-actor”, “actor-director” and “actor-actor “. With the workshop it will be possible only to touch base on what is usually achieved within a monthly workshop, when the result of the work is presented in a performance, a film, and an exhibition. The practices learnt in this workshop will become one of the building blocks that with further training allow the students to build the best model for relationships while working on the show, based on documentary material including personal and society taboo zones.

Session Two

Teaching Artists: Chen Alon, Roberto Varea, Jessica Litwak,

Enrico Casagrande & Daniela Nicolo (Motus)

Workshop Descriptions.

The Polarized Theatre of the Oppressed (Chen Alon)

The workshop offers a set of tools for a “Polarized Theatre of the Oppressed Model” that integrates theatrical and social work processes between two polar (actual and imagined) communities. The theory and practice of a polarized Theatre of the Oppressed has relevance for every polarized society or community, and the fieldworkers working with them.

By challenging the homogenous models of social theatre and the Theatre of the Oppressed, the workshop proposes alternative ways of thinking and acting together. The Polarized Model posits that the use of theatre is fundamental for an understanding of the creation, development, and preservation of the social power relations between polar groups; and that the representation of both individuals and their “Rainbow of Identities”, materializes and enables an actual visibility of the power relations, and enhances the transformative potential of the two sides. The workshop offers an examination, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the social relationships as power relations, by means of a theatrical process that considers the unique political connections and context of specific communities. The workshop aims to examine the potential inherent in the theatrical processes and events for development of a dialogue on non-violence, while establishing political-activist alliances, with the aim of acting to change the reality.

The Polarized Model was developed in the last decade in projects that Chen documented and comprehended as the task of Joker-as-ethnographer (in addition to theatre artist and director, facilitator, teacher, political leader) with polarized groups from a variety of Israeli and Palestinian sectors, with prisoners, drug addicts, homeless people, as well as in additional conflict zones around the world.

Cartographies for Socially Engaged Performance (Roberto Varea)

This studio workshop will focus on techniques developed to engage social issues, and/or work with vulnerable/marginalized populations, in the making of a performance piece. Students will compose tableaus, vignettes, and short scenes with one another, using tools and exercises based on collective creation principles ranging from how to make a space safe for the expression of the unsafe, to dialogical processes that challenge the notion of individual creative ownership. Together, students will define territory of social engagement, draw their own maps,cross borders, and chart a generative journey that honors personal and collective imagination, discovery, and praxis.

Working with H.E.A.T., Performance For Personal and Social Change (Jessica Litwak)

H.E.A.T. is an acronym for Healing, Education, Activism and Theatre, it is a method of theatre work with include techniques from Drama Therapy (healing) Applied Theatre (education) Performance and Peacebuilding (activism) and Three Paradigm Acting (theatre). This workshop is a dynamic group exploration of the theories and the practices that appertain to performance for personal and social change.  In this workshop we will explore how devised, classical, contemporary, and ritual forms of performance can support communities and individuals in conflict.  We will examine the theoretical aspects of the work including Moral Imagination, Paradoxical Curiosity, Art of Inquiry, and Conflict Transformation.We will learn tools and theories for work with specific populations. We will learn practice the Voice Progression ( a vibrant and effective vocal and physical warm up) Creative Voicing (performative writing) Character Development, and Puppetry. We will build short solo and group pieces: useful, generous, and provocative art that serves.


Land guage: A workshop on Documentary Theatre (Enrico Casagrande & Daniela Nicolo (Motus))

Stories happen only to those who are able to tell them, someone once said. In the same way, perhaps, experiences present themselves only to those who are able to have them. (Paul Auster)

What characterizes our theatre practice is the continuous attempt to combine on stage classical texts, like Sophocles’s Antigone (rewritten by B. Brecht) or W. Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with topics, questions and compelling needs from the s
ociopolitical reality of our time. How do you find the right balance? What does research on the field for a documentary mean and imply? How do you transform materials collected from encounters, video and audio interviews, and soundscapes into alive elements for the stage? How do you create a dramaturgy of the present? What is Documentary Theatre? These are the topics that we would like to approach and develop with the directors and actors taking part in the workshop… It is our intention to divide the work in two parts. The first will be more theoretical; with the help of video materials, fragments of scripts and photos, we will introduce our poetics and, analyzing parts of our artistic path, we will develop a conversation on contemporary theatre and its effective possibilities of interacting with reality and giving a voice to those who do not have one… A second part of the workshop will be dedicated to a series of individual or collective actions in Spoleto: interviews, maps, psychogeographic drifts, small actions in public areas, encounters with “defining characters” living the streets of Spoleto which, we are sure, will surprise us. Our initial inspiration will be provided by Paul Auster and his extraordinary and philosophical descriptions of his characters’ long walks, as well as by Sophie Calle and Paul Auster’s Gotham Handbook, on which we are currently working at La Manufacture, the High Level school for actors in Lausanne.


While most of the time will be spent in workshops at La MaMa Umbria, at least one day has been set aside for excursions to nearby cities. We will attend at least one performance event at a local arts festival, which may include Umbria Jazz in Perugia, Spoleto Estate, Todiarte Festival in Todi, etc. There may also be opportunities to see additional performances on an ad hoc basis.

The group will visit nearby towns such as Perugia, Umbria’s capital, Deruta, where world-famous ceramics are still painted by hand or Assisi, where the famous Cathedral of St. Francis has reopened after extensive renovation and reconstruction.

In addition, we will share an old fashioned Italian tradition, a sagra, or community celebration dedicated to celebrating the specialties produced by small Umbrian villages (such as truffles, olive oil and wine.) Sagras typically include an abundance of locally prepared specialty foods, local wines, entertainment, costumes and games.


In addition to our internationally renowned guest teaching artists, there will be an opportunity for you and your colleagues to share exercises and techniques with each other in late night sessions.

You may propose a special workshop to offer in one of the late (after dinner) sessions. Use the space on the registration form to describe what you would share. Not all proposals will be accepted based on time and space availability.


The La MaMa International Symposium is accredited through Sarah Lawrence College. While the Symposium is geared for working professionals, some slots may be filled by university students, who may get credit (2 credits for one session of the Symposium and 1 credit for the Retreat) for their participation through an arrangement with Sarah Lawrence College. For more information, please contact La MaMa at (212) 254-6468.


The fee is $2,700 for 2 weeks (one session) and $5,200 for 4 weeks (both sessions). Fee includes all workshops, housing and meals, ground transportation from the Rome airport to and from La MaMa Umbria, excursions by bus, van or car, including one ticket to a performance at local festival (see above), entrance fees to museums and other points of interest.

Airfare is not included in the price. Round trip airfare at special rates may be available through our recommended travel agent. Call for more information.


Space is limited. Registrants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Registrants must fill out the Registration Form. Space is secured with a deposit of $1,000 due with the registration form by May 15, 2014. $100 of the deposit is a non-refundable processing fee (unless the Symposium is already full when we receive your registration.)

All fees should be paid in US dollars in the form of checks or money orders payable to La MaMa ETC. In the case that a participant cannot attend the Symposium after having paid, 50% of the fee will be refunded if the participant cancels by June 20, 2014. After this date, the fee will not be refundable.

READ! “At La MaMa UMBRIA, SPACE AND SYNCHRONICITY Directors learn to draw from their surroundings – and from chance”. An article published in AMERICAN THEATRE MAGAZINE, (January 2002), by Rebecca Engle. Ms Engle was a participant in the 2nd Annual International Symposium for Directors.

Click here to read Participants’ Comments from previous Symposia.

Symposium Coordinators

David Diamond

Mia B. Yoo

For additional information contact:

Mia Yoo, Symposium Coordinator


74A East 4th Street

New York, NY 10003

(212) 254-6468

David Diamond, Symposium Coordinator

(212) 620-0703