ONLY CONNECT - a residential workshop

August 14th - 27th 2020

‘Live in fragments no longer. Only connect’ (E.M.Forster)

How do we connect in these times: without touch? Without, fear? Without settling for less?

How do we facilitate connections for other people we work with - with themselves and their bodies, with others, with their communities, with nature, with the cosmos, with life?

What is it to connect from the depths of our inner life to the outer reaches of what we can imagine?

What is it to connect without touch?

How do we move with each other if we choose not to touch? Can we explore deep interpersonal connection at distance? How do we now form ensemble and community? How do we reconnect our bodies with other people and the landscape? How can we be totally and beautifully present in this unknowable, sometimes terrifying cosmos?

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” William James

These months have made us reconsider many things. Certainties, habits and plans have evaporated. New normals will emerge, but we do not know what they will be. We have come face to face with the problem of bodies - our own and other peoples’.

We have also been faced with the undeniable reality of our interconnectedness - with others and with the natural world. In some cities the stars have become visible for the first time in years. We hear birdsong. Perhaps we wave more at our neighbours. The wonder of our biosphere is all around us. We are connected, even when we cannot touch.

What it is to be an artist/performer now?

What forms and processes of art-making will survive the lockdown? What will be possible, what ethical in the post-pandemic world? We don’t know of course, nobody knows, but artists are as necessary now as ever - perhaps more so. We need to help rebuild communities. We need to confront and defuse embodied fears. We need to imagine new futures. We need to retell the old, ignored stories. We need to be at the forefront of making the world more sustainable, healthy and connected than the world from which the pandemic came.

Drawing on DUENDE’s long-established work training performers and ensembles, this residency is a specific response to the problems of connection in and after pandemic.

As artists we must both confront these problems and develop strategies for enabling colleagues and communities to confront them. ‘Only Connect’, based in performance training and sharing, will be a process of research into the essence of connectedness. The work will value the absence of physical contact, and use that as a stimulus for exploring other, perhaps deeper, ways for humans to know themselves, each other and the environment we share with the non-human world.

The work will combine psychophysical training based in DUENDE’s core approach to performance (Self-With-Others), durational improvisation and training exercises, night-time working, collaborative written/visual research processes, self-reflection, structured conversation, site-responsive exercises/performance-making, self-generated solo and small group performance work. There will be some extended work sessions that may last late into night. We will work in various parts of the landscape.

“If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.” Alan Watts

We have thought hard about the ethics and practicalities of proposing this residency. Covid 19 did not become widespread in Greece and infection rates have fallen dramatically. Travel to the islands is restarting. The Greek Government has issued strict guidance for the restarting of rehearsal/training processes and these will be rigorously adhered to.

The work will be based in exploring the power of non-contact. If participants wish to work in physical contact with others, then that will happen only through a process of explicit interpersonal consent.

Research suggests that person-to-person transmission outside is extremely unlikely provided sensible precautions are taken. All work will take place outside in the open air.
(If you believe that Covid 19 does not exist, is over-dramatised, or that the best thing to do is suddenly hug everyone in sight, this may not be the workshop for you. We intend to explore and respect the legacies of fear, questioning and disembodiment that we bring with us, just as the communites we will later work with will carry those legacies. We will be guided by - and will trust - the best sceintific consensus we can access).

Nonetheless there are risks. There are risks attendant on traveling to Lesbos and on sharing space with a small group of others. Numbers on the workshop will be reduced from our normal limit so that only two people will share a room. Everyone will be asked to contirbute to an ongoing daily proces of ensuring hygeine in the living and workspaces.

“I see a world in the future in which we understand that all life is related to us and we treat that life with great humility and respect.” David Suzuki
Arrive: Friday 14th August
Residency: Saturday 15th - Wednesday 26th
Depart Thursday 27th August
Workshop and Accomodation Fee: €950
DUENDE Associate Artists €760
Three Scholarship places (only avialable to Greek-resident artists): €475
The Venue:
The residency will take place in Fara, a large house in a remote bay on the south coast of the Greek Island of Lesbos. DUENDE has run rsidencies at Fara for almost a decade now. It is a magical place. Few people come to the beach there, and the house is only minutes walk from the sea, in a valley with mountainous sides, full of olive trees, goats, and occasional people. It is an isolated spot with sketchy mobile connectivity.

We take over the house for the duration of the residency - with a maximum of two people per room, and a few people sleeping in tents in the grounds. The main workspace is the olive grove behind the house (there is a shade-cloth against the summer sun). We will also work on the beach, on the mountain sides and in the sea.

'Our separateness is an illusion; we are interconnected parts of the whole- we are a pond with movement and memory. Our reality is larger than you and me, and all the vessels that sail the waters, and all the waters on which they sail.'
Ervin Laszlo, Science and the Akashic Field, An Integral Theory of Everything 

Places are limited to 12. Please contact to register your interest.
'Only Connect' will be designed and led by John Britton and Eva Tsourou


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