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October 24, 2002 Temenos theatre company to present co-lingual productions



by Nora Gombos

In old Greece, the word temenos meant the sacred and protected grounds surrounding a temple. It was the property of the gods, and its protected space offered people sanctuary from the outside world. Here and now, Temenos refers to a recently unveiled theatre company that “exists to cultivate excellence and virtuosity in all aspects of its theatrical activity.”

Kate Bligh, the company’s artistic director and part-time professor at Concordia, is the founder. “I was looking for a word which worked in multiple languages, and which encapsulated the importance and respect that the art form of theatre might have associated with it,” she explained.

Temenos’s first play, a contemporary adaptation of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play, will be performed in several languages in the fall of 2003. “After this, we will either alternate the dominant language,” Bligh said, “or combine languages in the same piece.”

The co-lingual aspect is a key element in this new company, and so is the emphasis on continual education and on-going training. Kate Bligh has been working with a dedicated group of nine actors, including several Concordia students and graduates, since May 2002.

“I meet actors in my work and teaching and theatre going around the city; I invite those who seem exciting as performers and are excited about the potential of our work to train with us,” Bligh said.

The work Temenos does is based on some of the techniques and principles of Polish director Jerzy Grotowski and Slovakian dancer and choreographer Rudolph Laban. Both Grotowski and Laban were influential innovators in their fields.

Grotowski is known for his promotion of a so-called “poor theatre,” which attempts to redefine the relationship between the actors and the audience by eliminating all superfluous elements such as costumes, sets and lighting, and removes the boundaries of the conventionally designated playing area.

Laban, on the other hand, developed a system of notation, known as Kinetographic Laban or Labanotation, which is a method of recording body movements. Due to its accuracy, it is now being applied to copyright dance scripts, and analyze movements, and Bligh uses a system of movement and character analysis based on it.

In collaboration with Concor-dia, Temenos will organize a workshop in May, led Barry Edwards, the director of the Optik performance group, which will result in two performances on May 30 and 31. The venue is not yet fixed, but information is available via temenos@generation.net.

Temenos currently consists of Bligh and two other board members, Elaine Normandeau, a Concordia graduate, and Rebecca Doll, the Concordia Theatre Department’s Interim Facilities Director. With their focus on continous learning and innovation, they hope to expand the size of the group, as the current members of the ensemble will eventually train new members.