Teatr Usta Usta Republika (Mouth to Mouth Republic Theatre) set up their own, independent creative work with the production entitled A in the year 2000. The troupe’s artistic roots can be traced back earlier, to the intial cooperation of its members with the Porywacze Ciał (Body Abductors) from Poznań
A scene from Driver dir. Wojciech Wiński, 2004, photo: Marta Bruszewska/Teatr Usta Usta Republika
Together with Porywacze Ciał they created an open air performance entitled Sztuczne oddychanie (Pulmonary Resuscitation) which depicted a shrivelling contemporary reality which is devoid of the sacred dimension, and in which people are incapable of establishing emotional contact.
In a review of what turned out to be the group’s preliminary performance, Joanna Malicka stated:
The encounter between different practices, varying interests and distinct theatrical fonts resulted in an astonishing effect. Sztuczne oddychanie surprises the viewer with its form, which is very far from the means that are usually employed in the traditional street-art or open-air performances. The artists didn’t attempt an easy win that the usual wind-smothered flapping fabric, talking with the audience or glowing torches seem to guarantee. The fire and the stilts remain hidden in the shadow of a grand post-industrial set design, which is a perfect match for surrounding 'living' nature – the trees, the grass and the sky. The performance is a particular contestation of contemporary urban life and takes full advantage of silence and the space that it employs. On the other hand, it also uses elements that are typical of the picture-frame stage, such the placement of stage lights underneath the actors’ feet. Outside the walls of the theatre, and even beyond the framework of the alternative scene, a whole new range of the group’s new and surprising effects has been opened.
Dziennik Zachodni (The Western Journal), 2000
Following the cooperation with Porywacze Ciał, that same year the Mouth to Mouth Republic Theatre created their first independent production, entitled A. The piece is based on the New York Trilogy from Paul Auster. Dorota Mrówka from Gazeta Wyborcza commented:
The performance is a pastiche, and it plays with the convention of a good thriller. Somewhere in the air you can sense the drifting ghost of Philip Marlowe, and the play has an air of Raymond Chandler’s novels about it, which it blends with the atmosphere of 1920s ganster movies. (…)
This thriller is more than mere entertainement, as the artists transmit serious questions regarding out identity and the trouble of an inner sense of disintegration which is so frequent in our times.
Ewa Obrębowska provides more insight into the group’s work:
A is shown on the independent stage. And, here, there’s (…) a surprise. We have gotten used to expect socially engaged art or merely formal experiments from these artists. Usta Usta offer nothing of this kind. Instead we receive a godd portion of black humour and an intrigue, which is a logical and detectivistic riddle just as much as it is a metaphysical interrogation of the essense of being, a questioning of the human identity or its lack
To date, Teatr Usta-Usta Republika have created the following performances:
2002 - Cadillac
2004 - Ambrose, Driver
2005 - Alice 0700
2006 - Embassy
2007 - 777
2008 - The radioactive, System
2009 - Alexandria
2010 - STREAM
2011 - Exam, Glosolalia, The Unseen
2012 - Luminaria
Almost all of the projects constitute an experiment connected with a particular situation and space. Driver, for example, turned out to be the first Polish car-play. Performed for an audience of four spectators, the play becomes an intimate drive in an old American cruiser, which travels across different urban places that become the scenery of the Driver’s plot. Alice 0-700 presents the first Polish interactive performance carried out in the telecommunications network, where the future of the main character is determined by the viewer/listener’s choice, marked by pressing the receiver’s buttons. Embassy, on the other hand, had its beginning on a website. Spectators were forced to fill out the application form in which they were asking for asylum and a temporary stay in an indefinite country.
A sensitivity of the space constitutes both a distinctive feature and an advantage of the Poznan company. The group’s lack of a permanent residence created the impulse to engage unusual urban venues for the needs of the theatre. A dank basement of the Contemporary Art Centre, a dusty attic of the Poznan Society of Friends of Sciences, a monumental building of the imperial castle in Poznan, an underground parking lot, a night maze of city streets, and, finally the virtual reality – all of these ‘spaces’ became places where the Mouth to Mouth Republic presented their work. Their specificity served as the key to the structure of performances. The act of leaving a classically conceived of theatre stage provoked a play with the space on numerous levels. Its various elements become not only parts of the set design but also the dramatist personae.
The projects created by Poznan Mouth to Mouth Republic Theatre force the audience to be an active participant of the theatre. According to Joanna Derkaczew, a known Polish theatre critic, in the performances by Mouth to Mouth Republic "the division between the person who creates and constrains and the person who acquiescently accepts the vision of a creator disappears." Wińskiplays with the spectators, leaving a space for their autonomous reactions and choices in the script. The drama unravels as a result of the decisions of the audience. The group breaks with the idea of a comfortable chair from which the viewer can peek at the actors’ efforts. The spectator is invited to become the performer, whether he is sitting inside the tight space of the car, creating the show through pressing a button, answering growingly intimate questions in the ‘application forms’, or betting for a mysterious prize in the 777 performance.
Mouth to Mouth Republic Theatre are:
Director: Wojciech Wiński
Dramaturgy / Scripts: Ewa Kaczmarek, Wojciech Wiński
Costume designers: Idalia Mantas, Ewa Mróz, Ilona Binarsch, Joanna Werc
Music: Snowman, Zbyszek Łowżył, + pituri, Wojciech Morawski
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, marzec 2004. update and edition: SRS July, 2012
Teatr Usta Usta Republika
ul. Poznańska 25/9
tel. 061 852 41 86, 889 447 350