The Theatrical Learning Season

Damascus Theatre Laboratory  |  Research on the Arts Program  |  2020  |  Syria
“The Theatrical Learning Season” is an empirical, experimental, and theoretical research project on artist training. The project initially focuses on the organization and implementation of three practical workshops, with an interval of two months between each workshop. A selected group of actors of both genders, numbering between 6 and 12, engage in these workshops. The first workshop outputs a realistic theatrical play according to the Stanislavsky method, which is primarily designed to provide a psychological realistic representation in dramatic theatrical works. As for the second workshop, it will work on Bertolt Brecht’s text, unexplored and not fully translated in the Arab region (Buying Brass), in which he formulated a unique literary-theoretical proposal fitting in the epic theatre. The proposal is along the lines of Brecht's approach to dramaturgy, and works on the actor, who is primarily trained to provide a playful and theatrical representation where he steps out in an epic theatrical work. In the third workshop, the same group will be working on a post-dramatic text so as to confront actors with the main actor's questions in contemporary theatre, where the character and dialogue dwindle in their traditional form and sense; where the focus is on the recipients’ senses; and where the starting point is a world’s perception in which wane and decay are postulated.
The replication of the practical and theoretical research experience with the same group allows the establishment and use of a clear impact scale, through the documentation of lengthy debates and discussions with the group of male and female actors exposed to these three practical and theoretical theatrical experiences. The first season will stretch over a period of no more than a year and a half, in an exceptional experience compared to the locally prevailing reality of theatrical and research production in the field of arts. Thus, the second season’s stages will encompass the translation, script-writing and editing processes that complement and supplement the workshops, culminating in the publication of a research book on actor training in contemporary Syria. As it plays an ideal and pivotal role in interpreting and interrogating the reality of culture within the local context and its challenges, the book provides a comprehensive summary of this experience, and presents the problems of actor training at the theatrical, formative and societal level at a highly complex historical moment.