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Operation Teatr #1
'surgery as theatre on the edge of life and death'

Joan Laage, Butoh Performer (Krakow/Seattle)
Lee Berwick, Composer/Sound (London)
Rachel Sweeney, Dancer/Writer (London/Ireland)
Sally Dean, Dancer/Playwright (London/Seattle)
Simon Fulford, Performer/Photographer (London/New York)

February 14, 15, 19 2006
8:00 pm £ 8.00 £ 6.00

The Space [020 7515 7799 www.space.org.uk]
269 Westferry Road, London E14 3RS
TUBE: Canary Wharf DLR: Mudchute BUS: D3 & D7

Photo: Pawel Gula

Operation Teatr #1 is the first performance in a project that views operation or surgery as theatre on the edge of life and death, and that through this surgery, a “new” being emerges. And, both physically and metaphorically, the surgeon’s scalpel or surgical knife has that edge. OT#1 is a collaboration of international artists brought together by Butoh artist Joan Laage, an American living in Krakow, Poland. Collaborators include: soundscape composer Lee, DigiDub; dancer/writers Rachel Sweeney and Sally Dean; and dancer/photographer Simon Fulford. Ms Laage was initially inspired by seeing a photo exhibition and magazine article on the subject of operating rooms, and since then has become fascinated by operating and anatomical theatres. London’s performance will be followed by collaborations in Krakow and in the anatomical theatre in Uppsala, Sweden.

This multi-disciplinary theatrical production creates a kaleidoscope of images, movement, and sound revealing and commenting on surgical procedures, on the specialized world of the operating theatre in response to questions concerning the relationship of body and mind, and the role of memory, ownership and power within this particular context.

Through surgery a new body is created (with the surgeon taking on the role of creator or “re-creator”) that embodies the mental and physical memories of this experience. Through the entire range of surgical options – from “routine” procedures and experimental techniques of progressive and innovative surgeons to the mad scientists of film and pulp fiction – the subject/patient always emerges changed.

The performers create operating theatre as a particular kind of “reality”, a palpable world for the viewer. The aim is to encourage the audience to observe the process somewhat in the way a medical student would, with the added possibly of them taking on the role of voyeur.

JOAN LAAGE studied under Butoh masters Ohno Kazuo and Ashikawa Yoko, and performed with Ashikawa’s group Gnome in Tokyo in the late 1980s. She also attended workshops by Min Tanaka, Sankai Juku, Akira Kasai, Masaki Iwana, and others. Her first exposure to Butoh was in 1982 when she saw Dairakuda Kan in Tokyo. In 1989, she shared two evenings with one of Kazuo Ohno’s students, and created her first full group work as a guest artist in Taipei. Joan was Artistic Director of Dappin’ Butoh Seattle, Washington from 1991-2002. Since then, as a soloist and with her company, she has performed widely in the USA including the New York, San Francisco and Seattle Butoh Festivals, as well as in Europe, New Zealand, and in Asia. She will perform and teach at the Festival Buto 2006 at Tenri in Paris.

Joan first came to Krakow in 1996 and moved there in September 2004 where she gives Butoh workshops and performs. Since 2005, she started performing as “kogut” (rooster in Polish). She is featured in Sondra Horton Fraleigh’s book, Dancing Into Darkness: Butoh Zen & Japan which has been translated into Polish. In Washington she received numerous grants and appeared on KCTS Channel 9’s Current Series profiling Seattle artists. Having earned a Ph.D. in Dance in 1993, Joan wrote a dissertation on the body in Butoh. “…this prolific choreographer has infused Japanese Butoh with a striking occidental visual style, creating a unique dance signature…Laage’s visuals are spare and arresting.” The Stranger (Seattle)

LEE BERWICK is a sonic artist who has been producing and performing soundscapes, music and films, since the mid 1980's. By using modern computer technology the sounds that Lee records on location are manipulated so that often they only hint at their original source. The result of Lee’s sequencing take the listener to the land where sound effects end and music begins. Lee's short film 'Yatra-A Short Walk To The Source' was shown at the ICA Gallery in London, and was commissioned by The Museum Of. The BBC has produced a twenty-minute film about his Thames project for the Open Minds series. A track made from assorted noises of a London bus was used by Finnish film director Illpo Pohjola in his film 'Ashphalto'. Pohjola then commissioned Lee to score a soundtrack for his next film (entitled 'Routemaster') which was released on DVD in summer 2000 and shown all over Europe and at The Berlin Film Festival.

In early 2004 Lee collaborated with French choreographer Dominique Rivoal on ‘Dancing with angels’ in a London church. Lee has had a long-standing collaboration as the chief composer for The Su-En Butoh Company, a Swedish dance group which tours internationally. Major works have included the critically acclaimed 'Scrap Bodies', the music of which was included in the Hayward Gallery's exhibition 'Sonic Boom'. Joan and Lee first met when Su-En Butoh performed at the 1998 Seattle Butoh Festival.

RACHEL SWEENEY originally developed an interest in dance while training in Theatre at Dartington College of Arts before moving to Amsterdam to study Mime and Contemporary Dance. Since 1997 she has worked in dance theatre as a writer, choreographer and performer. Independent performance projects include a Professional Development Award (Arts Council of Ireland), London Arts Digital Arts Award (2001), South East Dance commission (Visions Festival 2002) and 'Spilt'- a solo performance commission from Butoh UK (2003). Rachel has studied and performed with several butoh dance companies and artists from around the world, including SU-EN Butoh Company, Sweden, Fran Barbe Dance, UK, and Dappin’ Butoh, US.

SALLY E. DEAN is a dancer, choreographer, playwright, and teacher, originally from the U.S.A., currently residing in London. Her dance/theatre compositions have been performed nationally and internationally in such venues as Seattle, San Francisco, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, London, Prague, and Germany. Sally is currently an associate lecturer at Laban and Chichester University teaching dance and theatre. Last summer she choreographed for the New York Festival of Music Theatre and performed her solo, Waiting for Richard, in the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Sally performed with Dappin’ Butoh in its acclaimed work “5000 Falling Souls” in 2002.

SIMON FULFORD is a charity professional, artist and educator who has dedicated his life to using the arts as a tool for transforming society. He co-founded and directed Art Start in New York, a grass-roots arts-education organization serving troubled youth, which received several awards. As a photographer, his work focuses on the disabled, reinforcing the common, human and personal links between subject and viewer. In the mid-‘90s, he photographed extensively for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Simon trained in Modern/Improv dance but now concentrates on Butoh-inspired performance work as well as dance/theatre collaborations. He has collaborated with several artists including David Lakein and the mixed-ability dance company, Dance First. His first London performance was at the Stranger Than Paradise show on February 5th, 2006 at South London Pacific. Simon now resides in London after living in the USA and France. Simon and Joan met via email through mutual friend David Lakein.