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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Inspiring Quote for ARTEL to continue to live by:

...Russian theater as deconstructed by local company ARTEL  is one of the most visceral, dangerous acts we’ve witnessed from the audience since the days of Jesus Lizard, redefining the boundaries of how live theater can engage us.-Hadley Tomicki, LA TACO

Friday, July 02, 2010

Interacting Galaxies

Leeds - Los Angeles
Barcelona Bus - Olya Petrakova
Writing Practice - Physical Practice

Our galaxies are colliding.
After 18 months, it is imperative for the Artistic Directors 
to realign, rebalance and restructure life's majesties.

New Explosions are coming.

photos courtesy of NASA and Hubble telescope. Yay NASA!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A riotous 5 week run in Hollywood was not enough! A serving of Kharmful ARTELians has been ordered in San Diego!

Honoring the writing of Daniil Kharms with a dash of Monty Python, a pinch of Waiting for Godot, and a heaping spoonful of American Russian devised mayhem,
Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms
will perform Friday March 26th & Saturday March 27th @ SUSHI PERFORMANCE & VISUAL ART.

Come partake at

Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms will then return with an ever-evolving show of Circus Shardam Antics to rouse your senses at Art|Works theatre for 6 more shows (see below post for review, dates and tickets)!

"Simultaneously Disorienting and Comforting..."

A humble thank you to K. Primeau for upholding the job of reviewer! Far too often LA Theatre critics feel that a précis of the literary aspect of a theatrical event suffices as a job well done. It's an honor to have our work so well articulated and to see the noble role of critic is still preserved in some minds of the world.

Conforming to our laboratory manifesto, ARTEL continues to present an ever-evolving spectacle of Circus Shardam Antics to rouse your senses.
Come partake in 6 new performances of an evolved version of Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms!
S. April 3rd, Th. April 8th, F. April 9th, S. April 10th, F. April 16th, S. April 17th
ART|WORKS Theatre, 6567 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood CA 90038
tickets :

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Declaring 2010 as the Year of the Absurd, ARTEL is making explosive (re)solutions to the New Year, beginning with detonating notions of theatre as a dramatic servant of literature. While English speaking academics are just now wrestling with Hans-Thies Lehmann’s ten year old articulation of a ‘post-dramatic theatre’, ARTEL ransacks a storehouse constructed eighty years ago by Daniil Kharms when he divined a creative practice of sluchai*, to propose its own poetics of perplexing alogical perspectives formulated for a new decade of twenty-first century theatre.

Daniil Kharms, an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist, was a post-modern artist before the term had any cultural currency. Kharms exploded the conception of theatre as a literary representative, defining the rules of theatre not as dramatic but scenic. By the late 1920s, his anti-rational verse, nonlinear theatrical performances, and public displays of iniquitous and irrational behavior earned Kharms - who always dressed like an English dandy with a calabash pipe - the reputation of being a talented but highly eccentric "fool" or "crazy-man" in Leningrad cultural circles. Exiled briefly during the “relatively vegetarian” days of the early 1930s, ten years later he was imprisoned in the psychiatric ward of Leningrad Prison No. 1. Kharms died in his cell – most likely from starvation – in February, 1942 as the Nazi blockade of Leningrad was well underway. His writings (a vast assortment of stories, miniatures, plays, poems, and pseudo-scientific/philosophical investigations) were virtually unknown until the 1970s, and not published officially in Russia until the late-1980s period of "glasnost".

ARTEL has found a kinship in the writings, theories and spirit of OBERIU (Union of Real Art), the avant-garde collective founded by Kharms, that adds a legacy and language to the ways in which the ensemble laboratory has been training performers and devising theatre since its inception. Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms is therefore presented as homage to OBERIU whose aesthetic centered on a belief in the autonomy of art from the real world's rules and logic as well as the intrinsic meaning to be found in objects and words outside of their practical function.

By ‘Real Art’, OBERIU intended the creation of an artistic language that refused symbolism and subtext as a means to present realism. The Oberiuty rejected literary drama, in which all the elements are subordinate to the dramatic plot, that is the play as ‘a tale told by people about something that happened’, and in which everything is done on the stage in order ‘to explain the meaning and the course of the events more clearly, more comprehensibly, and in a more life-like way’. ‘Theatre’, said the Oberiuty, ‘has nothing to do with that.’

OBERIU embraced a creativity that demanded “the transformation of the forms of private life into a fact of art”. The promotion of an aesthetic and ethos that blurs life and art has been a main line of research for ARTEL, and coupled with the notion of ‘scenic plot’ was a central dramaturgy for the Bulgakov variations over the last three years.

Derided as literary hooligans in the increasingly hostile atmosphere of 1930s Stalinism, OBERIU survived as a collective for only a few short years, but are considered “the last of the Soviet avant-garde”.

As the cultural weather continues to fluctuate in our own tumultuous times, Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms disrupts the experience of daily entertainment routines, challenges the central questions around the role of art, the responsibility of artists, and the creative capacity of all living citizens, and ultimately aims to provoke an incident of love.

You want to find the laws of normality and logic which you think you see in life. But you will not find them here. Why? Because an object and a phenomenon transferred from life onto the stage are no more dependent on the laws of ‘life’ and acquire laws of another kind, those of the theatre. We are not going to explain what they are. To understand the laws of a theatrical presentation you have to see it.

- OBERIU, 1928

After a riotous oversold presentation of the workshop production last spring, ARTEL – a mad-gang of artisanal scientists comprising the underground American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory – brings Daniil Kharms back with a vengeance! And he is more charming, macabre, and scintillating than ever! Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms is an original decadent comedy illogically formulated from Russian Surrealist and Absurdist motifs, constructed as an evening of not-so-innocent commotions and antics, vignettes and dreamlike incidents, all set to a rousing live musical score.

Where: Art|Works Theatre 6567 Santa Monica Blvd. 90038
When: Feb 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, March 5, 6, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 at 8:30pm
March 7 and 14 at 3pm

Produced by viaCorpora International Performance Research and Development House and Don Cesario

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Absurdity is here, or is it waiting for the Tiger

Daniil Kharms is back with a vengeance! And he is more charming, macabre, and scintillating than ever!

After a riotous oversold presentation of the workshop production last spring, ARTEL is hard at work to re-invent and re-create their production of “Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms”. Continuing to explode the thread of illogically decadent comedy formulated from Russian Surrealist and Absurdist motifs, ARTEL will be constructing an evening of not-so-innocent commotions and antics, vignettes and dreamlike incidents set to a rousing live musical score.

Opening night FRACAS is February 19th!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Teatr Zar in Los Angeles

Our friends and collaborators of Teatr Zar are spending two weeks in Los Angeles conducting performances, specially arranged workshops and occasional concerts. "Gospels of Childhood. Triptych" opened last night at UCLA Live to a completely sold out run. Zar's work is for the intimate spaces, and that is a blessing. Royce Hall, a large venue, is transformed into a small sanctified space for closer transmission of song and action from performers to the audience. This proximity is paramount. Still nothing can compare to seeing their work at Apocalypsis room of Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, where darkness of the room resembles that of the black hole, and the acoustics those of the ancient caverns. Tuning into their performances in London, Chicago or Los Angeles requires perhaps a greater amount of work on behalf of the audience to tune out brightly lit "exit" signs, the dust of the big city, the head noise of the daily grind. Here are a few eloquent accounts of encountering Teatr Zar by American colleagues who witnessed their performances in Poland last summer: A Search for the Oldest Songs in the World by Jim O'Quinn, and Applauding in Poland by Guy Zimmerman. If one is attracted to this kind of theatre, making a pilgrimage to Wroclaw can be life altering. It certainly was for every ARTEL member who went.

For a direct website of Teatr Zar, please follow this link: Teatr Zar.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Auditions for Kharmful Charms of Dani Kharms - World Premiere!

WHAT: After a sold-out workshop production last April, ARTEL returns with Kharmful Charms of Dani Kharms - A World Premiere: collaborative ensemble-devised project based on the works of Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms (1905-1942). Creation/training process will explore the styles of Eastern European clowning (Slava Polunin), vaudeville, cabaret, burlesque, commedia dell'arte, viewpoints, Polish/Russian theatre practices (Grotowski, Meyerhold, Vakhtangov), and devising techniques.

DATE/TIME/LOCATION: Oct 2, 6:30-8pm or Oct 3, 11-12:30. Artworks Theatre & Studios. Studio C, 6575 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90038. Tel. 310-985-9996.RUN: Presented at Artworks Theatre. Opens February 12, Fri-Sat 8pm (occasional Wdn, Th or Sun shows) 4 weeks. Please be open to extend. (another 4 -6 weeks)

WHO: We are looking for character actors-creators, dancers, singers, puppeteers, musicians with a proclivity for comedy and absurd. Physicality, expressivity, courage to create are a must. Everyone will be required to devise solo and group work. Training in physical approaches to theatre, commedia dell'arte, clown, cabaret is a plus.

AUDITION: The audition will be 1.5 hours long or so, with a group of people auditioning together (up to 12 people). It will involve physical, vocal and movement-led exercises, ensemble work, devising session and a presentation of prepared material. Very fun, high energy event. At the very least you will get an awesome workout. In the prepared material category I am asking for a short theatre/performance piece up to 3 min long. Preferably comedic. Original piece is a plus, but not required. The more unnaturalistic and expressive it is - the better. This can be done with any material, classical or not.

If you feel like creating something new on your own (which a few people did at the workshop audition we had in the spring) - you can take a look at the link below and see if any of the pieces of Kharms spark your imagination. In your preparation you can use anything you fancy - puppets, shadow play, monologue, write a song to Kharms' story - anything at all. This is just one site with Kharms' material, but there are many on the net:

REHEARSAL: ARTEL's work is highly collaborative and physically/vocally demanding (think Robert Wilson). The styles of approaches to the material are varied: vaudeville, burlesque, cabaret, circus, commedia dell'arte, etc. All of them are tied together by something uniquely kharmsian, the show definitely has an overarching style of its own. All material is generated by the group utilizing Kharms' stories and references. The entire show is put together as a puzzle set to a rousing live musical score. We did a workshop production of it in April (in a research stage), and it was met with an enthusiastic response (oversold both nights). So there is a strong momentum: audience's anticipation, a good amount of material already generated, and a number of great bandmates in place. This next stage, what would be considered a development stage, is where we will add more material (text, song, dance, shadow play), a few new cast members and fine-tune the details. The long-term goal for this piece is to tour and/or to be presented in several countries (UK, Poland, Russia)

REQUIREMENTS: I ask everyone in the cast to be solidly available in January and February (Mo-Fr evenings) and have no other creative conflicts (jobs, ready performances can be OK, depending on dates, but no rehearsals). As this piece will demand a lot of time, even outside of rehearsal schedule. All of us will be working on getting at the quality of performance, which is placed in physical/vocal exactitude and high degree of expressivity. There are training sessions and creative opportunities that are open to all new cast members as early as October and a performance salon Gogol-Mogol that is slated for Oct. 24 (to be confirmed), where any creative material can be tried, especially connected to Kharms.

WHAT TO DO: Send PIX and RESUME to, or via post: ATTN: KHARMFUL CHARMS, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038