“I think theatre has a lot to do with putting the audience in contact with the gods, whatever that means. That’s where theatre comes from.”
A letter from the Artistic Director
The first time I saw traditional street Theatre in Iran (Ta’zieh) one thing more than anything else caught my interest. It was a feeling I experienced from the actors. The first time I witnessed Theatre on the stage, again, this one thing stood out to me. I had discovered a new world – a world where I could communicate a feeling. Throughout my studies and work in Theatre that one element has remained paramount to my art. The actors and audience MUST feel something real, something in their bones. With Theatre comes the rare opportunity and responsibility to create unique connections between people – The Actors among them selves, and the actors with the audience, sharing an emotional connection, a feeling.
There are two towering Theatre figures that have greatly influenced me as well as The Boston Experimental Theatre Company (BETC). Antonin Artaud and his concept of The Theatre of Cruelty was the first major influence on my work. I realized that I wanted more than just communication with the audience. I wanted a deep communication. One where the audience and the actor together explore feelings buried deep in the body and the unconscious.
Later on I was introduced to Jerzy Grotowski and his concept of Poor Theatre and actors work. This form of art strips away the superfluous, the unnecessary. It strips it all the way down to just the actor and his/her body. This is where the deepest of feelings and ‘feelings forgotten’ exist. This is also the ‘house of the soul.’ Props, lights, words, costumes, etc are only added if they aid in the communication process.
Boston Experimental Theatre Company (BETC) was developed in summer 2008 to pursue these goals, to study them and to explore them through the process of rehearsal, practice and performance. We are not attempting to create anything ‘new’ or ‘cutting edge’. BETC aims to get back to basics and bring to life a Theatrical connection between audience, actor and the gods.
Working with BETC, I fully appreciated how theatre is a never-ending process of learning and growth. We decided to always start rehearsals in an empty space with the director, actors and designers. Through a series of exercises, the actors and designers explore their thoughts and feelings and allow relationships to develop; the show grows organically from this intimate and intense atmosphere.
It is crucial for me to create an environment in the rehearsal room that encourages actors and designers to discover the relationship between their bodies, their imaginations, and the environment (space, light, sound, and others in the room) to create their characters, art designs and even the text of the performance. And finally, we invite spectators to bring their imaginations to the work. Throughout my study and work in theatre, one element has remained paramount to my art: the theatre must become a space where actors and spectators can connect meaningfully to their dreams and emotions at the deepest level. In BETC’s productions, I want to foster meaningful communication between the actors and the audience, so that everyone involved can honestly explore feelings held captive in the body and the unconscious. Such emotions are ordinarily ignored and eclipsed by social habits, fear, and distraction, but the unique qualities of theatre allow for a public space to explore them. The theatre I want to continue studying is one in which both actors and audience discover hidden parts of themselves before (and after) the curtain comes down.
We do believe Theatre is not Theatre until a unique relationship happens between the stage and the audience. Because of this fact we rely on our audience and appreciate the greatest honesty so that we may continue forward. Please feel free to offer your honest and unadulterated opinions, no matter how ‘cruel.’
BET Artistic Director