Friday, June 6 // 8.30 am – 12.30 pm @ HumLabX, Bildmuseet
Dr. Anna Foka 

Roman improvisational street comedy and Greek Tragedy mixes with digital technology in two re-enactment and staging experiments led by Anna Foka at state of the art creative studio and workspace HumLabX. Be part of a scientific project on historical performances conveyed through current technological means. Put your sweats on for an intellectually challenging experience!

Please note: participation requires previous experience in acting/directing/other artistic technique.
Participation requires consent on the documentation being used in Dr. Fokas research project too.

The workshop will involve discussions on the dynamics and systemic operations regarding [ancient and current] popular entertainment. It can generate questions about the potentials and limitations set by our current technological grasp, as well as highlighting gender aspects of performativity in physical and digital arenas. It can further be applicable in research and edu­cation in order to anchor both ’traditional’ research questions, as well as the importance of multiplicity within institutional material infrastructure. The actors, directors and/or other performance profes­sionals will be asked to interact with installations of a Roman and a Greek Amphitheatre, designed by Anna Foka, in HUMlabX.

Dr Anna Foka is currently a senior lecturer at the HUMlab, at the University of Umea. She has a background in Theatre/Performance Studies (MA, Athens Greece), Classics and Ancient History (MA and PhD 2009, Liverpool, UK). She has published on ancient humour, literary and perfor­mative depictions of bodies, ethnicity and gender in the ancient world up to Early Christianity (Byzantium). Current interests involve bodies and narratives of gender in performance, the relationship between classical tradition and contemporaneity, narratives of historical culture in mass media, and cultural heritage. Her current project: ‘Digital Bread and Circuses’ discusses specifically the potentials and limitations of a conceptual digital construction of a Roman Amphiteatre for multiple screens.

Seminar 1. Roman Street Theatre and Ancient Stand-Up Comedy 

Ancient Roman mime was a popular form of theatrical performance featuring female and male actors, risqué language and jokes, sex scenes, action sequences, political satire, dance numbers and it was in some ways similar to modern burlesque.  It was an “anarchic genre” that could range from scripted comedy with a plot, to variety acts based on juggling and acrobatics. Unlike other forms of institutionalized and written ancient drama such as Greek and Roman comedy and tragedy, mime was performed without masks, which not only promoted stylistic realism in acting and facial expressions, but gave women the opportunity to play female roles that in traditional theatre were performed by masked men in drag. The interplay of gender in performance will be utilized for this seminar, in order to break the boundaries and thoughts on gendered performance.

Participants will be given two broad plots of improvisational Roman theatre and will be invited to stage it. The aim is to draw upon participants empirical knowledge and individual culture, in order to play around ancient concepts of gender roles, performance, These, in combination with technology will mediate the experience of staging a Roman Stand-Up Comedy. For the purpose of the seminar, HumlabX rooms with technological equipment of high quality screen environments will be at the participants’ disposal. Rooms with embedded interactive wall and floor screen will be used.

Seminar 2: Greek Tragedy VS Comedy

Ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece 700 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political, and military power during this period, was its centre, where it was institutionalised as part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. Tragedy (late 6th century BC) and comedy (486 BC) are widely known and reproduced through the centuries and across times and cultures, used masks and exaggerated costumes and were based on verbal richness, and a chorus that engaged in song and dancing.

In this seminar the participants will have the opportunity to engage with both different dramatic modes (tragedy and comedy).

Participants will be welcomed to engage with small extracts from Aristophanes Birds and Frogs, and will then will try to reconstruct chorus- generated sounds and (consequent) animal movement for the stage. Accordingly, a passage from Euripides Bacchae will also be directed and reenacted. taking into consideration different sources of directed sound and screens. For the purpose of the seminar, Humlab X rooms with technological equipment of high quality screen environments will be at the participants’ disposal. Rooms with embedded interactive wall and floor screen will be used..





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