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Awkward Happiness – New Work from Poland’s Laboratory Theater Scene

What is happiness? It is one of the great questions of meaning that runs through human history, investigated by as many philosophers and theologians as poets and playwrights. Studio Matejka draws this question out in 21st century terms through their performance Awkward Happiness. This show is a wild and silky blend of physical theater, dance, and visual art.

The pedigree of Studio Matejka and its laboratory process

Awkward Happiness is the result of 14 months of rigorous training that began in 2010 under the auspices of The Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, Poland. Director and Choreographer Maciej Matejka’s previous experience working with Farm In the Cave (CZ) and Teatr Zar (Poland) left him with the desire to create a laboratory environment where a wide range of physical theatre practices could be interrogated. An international team of actors and dancers came together and began to ‘speak’ through a diverse range of vocabularies. The team has since been invited to universities and venues around the world to share their results through company led workshops.

The making and development of Awkward Happiness

After its initial residency, Studio Matejka began to devise and reflect on gathered materials and fragments of movement. Personal writings along with themes from Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Pascal Bruckner’s Perpetual Euphoria became anchors for the Studio’s full range of physical expressions.

Awkward Happiness

Awkward Happiness

Receiving its premiere in 2013, Awkward Happiness has since played in Poland, India, Switzerland, England, Germany, and Czech Republic to enthusiastic audiences. The performance was also selected as a Special Jury Mention in last year’s Be Festival.

“With four characters and minimum props, the play was a visual treat, a performance that thrilled the audience, enough for it to break out in applause at frequent intervals.” – Swati Daftuar reporting for The Hindu.

The futility of happiness

The performance traces two couples on their journey to understand and discover happiness. In the private space of their relationships, masks fall and reveal what is hidden in public; their unvoiced questions and suppressed desires. If a moment of happiness appears and vanishes in an instant, will they even recognize it? “There is nothing more vague than the idea of happiness, that old prostituted, adulterated word so full of poison that we would like to exclude it from the language.” Pascal Bruckner – Perpetual Euphoria.

Venue: Summerhall Old Lab Venue 26            
Tickets: 12/10 concession
Dates: August 13-22 Tickets: In person at Summerhall
Time: 22:00 (60 minutes) Online: bit.ly/AwkwardTickets

Awkward Happiness is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and was created during an artistic residency at the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław. The performance is co-produced with Compagnie TDU.