Zhang Xian, theater director, social choreographer, liminal situationist, live art and dissidential reality maker. He is one of the earliest independent Chinese playwrights of the Post-Mao era. From the very beginning of his career, he has engaged in the underground art movement to cope with the societal pressures of his time. Following a long period of editing and writing for the press, magazines, screenplays and film scripts, he founded several non-governmental art organizations and theatre work spaces.
As a playwright, director, and producer, Zhang Xian has more than ten plays and dances performed in as many cities around China, Europe and America. The first dance performance of Tongue’s Memory of Home won the ZKB Patronage Prize of the Zurich Theatre Spektake1in 2006.
As a film script writer, his film Those Left Behind won the Best Film of the Golden Pyramid Award at the 16th Cairo International Film Festival, while Jasmine Woman won the Judges’ Prize of the 7th Shanghai International Film Festival and became a highly acclaimed blockbuster movie in China. He has also acted as a judge at 18th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater and DEON Fund’s Young Choreographer Project.
In his capacity as an art organizer and curator, Zhang Xian initiated the independent drama group Z and the dance group Zuhe Niao and established the Hard Han Cafe Theatre. He co-organized the first Chinese non-profit art and performance base, Down Steam Garage, in Shanghai, as well as several of the earliest independent Chinese art festivals, such as the Fringe Festival, Idea Festival, and the Free Cinema Festival.
In recent years, he has also taken inspiration from live art and has since incorporated “Liminal Situations” into his social theatre experiments, bringing to fruition his concept of Everyday Life as a Festival.
The work of German Artist and Author-Director Achim Wieland shifts between the Visual Arts, Stage Performance and Writing. He is a founding member of the performance collective SRSLYyours ––a group of international performers, writers, visual artists and dramaturges devoted to an inclusive and non-hierarchical content development process around socio-political themes. Their devised-performance Fear Industry has been selected in the Category “Best Theater Performances on Berlin Stages” (Berlinale Issue, Zitty Magazine) and is on Tour since 2015 (Berlin,
Montenegro, Stuttgart, Zurich, Gothenburg, Athens, Malmö). In 2016/2017, he was the Artistic Director of the project Uniting the Mediterranean Sea commissioned by the Cultural Capital of Europe/Pafos and has directed the Bi-Communal Project/Performance Myths and Tales across the Divide commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Cyprus. After Egoland (2017, Sweden/Cyprus/Germany), the collective’s latest production Tea Ceremony (Germany/Japan/Cyprus) will be on Tour from Spring 2019. Since March 2018, Achim Wieland is the Artistic Director of the Buffer-Fringe Performing Arts Festival in Cyprus. Born and raised in Germany, Achim Wieland holds a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design/USA and has taught and lectured throughout Europe, North
America, and the Middle East. Prior clients and projects include work for the Deutsche Guggenheim, New York University, the Bronx Museum, Harvard University or the J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles and his work has been awarded and exhibited at the American Center for Design (ACD) Chicago, Cultural Capital of Europe/Cyprus, Museum of Contemporary Arts Thessaloniki, Jan van Eyck Akademie/Netherlands, Explosive Festival/Bremen, Dance Platform Cyprus, the Experimental Film/Video Festival Strange Screen, among others. He held teaching positions in the Design and Graduate Program of the Rhode Island School of Design/USA, HWZ (Switzerland), VCU/Q (Virginia Commonwealth University/Qatar), F+F School for Media and Design Zurich and the University of Nicosia (Cyprus). He conducts workshops and gives lectures internationally, exhibits independent art projects, and directs performance and theatre work staged throughout Europe.
ELEONORA EDREVA/LEO WILLIAMS
Eleonora Edreva & Leo Williams are artists whose solo and collaborative work spans the mediums of video, dramaturgy of scents, food, games, digital fabrication, and fiber; each seeking to explore the themes of waste, gender, food, technology, sensory education, and environmental catastrophe. Their work emerges as a response to confronting and feeling the dense and leaky weight of growing landfills, mass consumption, and unequal access to dwindling resources; which they address by calling into question myths of individualism and upholding the necessity of community-based resilience in the face of apocalypse. Their video and game design work has been shown in Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and Seyðisfjörður, Iceland and now in Sofia, within the framework of Radar Sofia artistic residency. Leo Williams is from Miami, Florida, and studied art history and curatorial studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. He works as a digital fabrication specialist, and wants to use the principles of game design to emphasize and explore community building possibilities. In the past, he was the director and curator of an apartment gallery based in Chicago, IL, called “cornerstore”, focusing on experimental work by a range of emerging and mid-career artists. Eleonora Edreva is a Bulgaria-born, Chicago-raised artist, researcher, and sensory educator. The artist’s main creative partnerships currently include video and game design work with Leo Williams. She is a member of the Speculative Bodies Collective, which produces workshops positing alternative futures through the use of scent and fashion; and has co-founded CBORG (the Community-Based Olfactory Research Group), a Chicago-based roving research team, through which they participate in open-access research on the intersections of scent with art, science, technology, theatre, dramaturgy and politics.
SIMONA SEMENIČ (1975) is a Slovenian playwright and performer. She completed her dramaturgy studies at the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana.
Simona is a recipient of the Prešeren Fund Award, the highest Slovenian national award for artistic creation. She is also a three-time winner of the Grum Prize, the highest national award to be bestowed on a playwright in her native Slovenia. Her first award winning play “5boys.si” (2008) was translated into twelve languages, staged in several countries in Europe, USA and in the Middle East and also published in several countries outside her homeland. She also won awards for “24hrs” (2006) and “seven cooks, four soldiers and three sophias” (2014) and was nominated for 1981 (2013) and “this apple, made of gold” (2016). Her other plays include “you didn’t forget you just don’t remember anymore” (2007), “feast” (2010), “blame it all on donnie darko” (2011), “sophia” (2011), “we, the European corpses” (2015), “the last love letter” (2017). Productions of her plays won several awards in Slovenia and abroad.
Simona also writes, directs and performs autobiographical experimental theatre shows, which include “9 easy pieces” (2007, with artistic group Preglej), “I, the victim.” (2007), “do me twice” (2009), “43 happy ends” (2010, with artistic group Preglej), “Kapelj and Semenič Under Construction” (2012, with Barbara Kapelj), “Bulc and Semenič For Sale” (2013, with Mare Bulc) and “the second time” (2014). Her shows received outstanding notices from the audience and from theatre critics and Simona performed them at several festivals in Slovenia and abroad.
She has also been collaborating with Ivan Talijančić, Janez Janša and other theatre directors and choreographers as a co-writer and a dramaturge.
Simona lives in Ljubljana with her two sons.
photo: Andrej Vasilenko
Vaiva Grainytė (b.1984) is a writer, playwright, and poet. Her writer’s practice usually crosses the confines boundaries of deskwork and becomes an integral part of an interdisciplinary polylogue. Her handwriting exhibits the features typical of her oeuvre: personal and collective memory, daily routine and social issues are in harmony with poetic and ironic approach.
Her first book of essays Beijing Diaries was nominated for the Lithuanian Book of the Year category and made it to the list of 12 Most Creative Books. In 2013 the book received The Augustinas Gricius Award. She is coauthor and the librettist of the contemporary opera for 10 singing cashiers, supermarket sounds and piano Have a Good Day, which holds 6 prestigious international awards (its libretto is translated into 9 languages). The second piece she did with composer Lina Lapelytė and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė – the opera-performance Sun and Sea (Marina) – was selected
to represent Lithuania at the 58 th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, where authors received Golden Lion award. In 2019 Vaiva’s poetry book Gorilla’s archives was published.
Drama Pact East selected playwright
Sabina Balan (b. 1993) is currently studying playwriting in her final year in Bucharest. She also studied film before that and was part of the the filming process of many projects, where she became interested in the similarities and differences between the two media, theatre and film. Her only produced play is an adaptation of a fairytale by Brothers Grimm which has been staged at two different venues, one with puppets in Râmnicu Vâlcea, Romania, and one with live actors in Chișinău, Republic of Moldavia, both being aimed at very young spectators. Her other written pieces that haven’t been produced yet explore subjects such as the forming mechanism of addiction, the impact of technology on the lives of young people, and also, another adaptation of a Romanian fairytale. Sabina also wrote for a couple of Romanian television series and as a script supervisor of short films.
Drama Pact East selected playwright
Burhan Kerim (b. 1995) graduated as an actor from the Drama Theatre Academy NATFA in Sofia in 2018. Even before that started to perform in theatres in Sofia – Theatre Laboratory Sfumato, National Theatre Ivan Vazov, Youth Theatre. During his last two years he attended Dramaturgy classes. In 2019 he studied Public Speech where he specialised in writing speeches and monologues of various genres. As a dramaturg his debut was at the Small season festival of Sfumato Theatre 2019 as a co-author of Dodo together with Teodora Ivanova. He is currently enrolled in a master’s programme of Stage Directing and is also undertaking a research on the topic of the expulsion of Bulgarian Turks during 1980s, or the so called “Big Excursion”, upon which he is building his next project, now being supported by Radar-Sofia.
Anna is a member of the teaching staff at the Damascus Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts (formerly), a member of the Arab Writers Union, a member of the Artists Association/ Damascus. She has written a series for the BBC Beirut, has won an award from the Cairo Radio and Television Festival and recently established Mraya Theatre Project in search of new theatrical forms and expression, more relevant to the local context.
Julianna Bloodgood actress, movement artist, vocalist, teacher, director
Julianna Bloodgood is an actress, movement artist, vocalist, teacher and director whose work includes anthropological performance research. She has traveled extensively in search of different cultural perspectives on the body, voice and the ritual of performance. She was an actress in the award-winning and critically acclaimed Polish theatre company Song of the Goat Theatre from 2009-2018. In Poland Julianna was also a founding member of the pedagogical and performance research company Odra Ensemble. She was a resident artist with New York based Theater MITU, and is currently collaborating with Slovakian theatre company Honey and Dust. In 2019, Julianna was awarded a scholarship from the Polish Ministry of Culture for her artistic research and was one of ten European independent theatre makers chosen to participate in Creative Europe’s Make A Move project. Julianna is the co-founder of The Dadaab Theater Project, a youth based theater project in Dadaab, Kenya, formerly the world’s largest refugee camp and is a founding member and co-artistic director of The Great Globe Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to inspire and empower the individual voice and to help build bridges between people and communities. Julianna graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University and holds an MA in Acting, a BFA in Dramatic Performance from the College Conservatory of Music, Department of Acting, University of Cincinnati. She is also a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, California. Julianna regularly teaches workshops and masterclasses internationally. juliannabloodgood.com
Playwright, theatre maker
Zsófi Pálffy is a playwright and theatre maker from Transylvania. She studied Theatre Sciences and Playwriting at the University of Arts (http://www.uat.ro/en.html) in Targu Mures, Transylvania, Romania and Karoli Gaspar University, Budapest, Hungary. Zsófi lived in Hungary for 8 years where she was doing both background (festival organizing) and also foreground works of theatre making, such as critique writing or workshops facilitating in Budapest (creative writing workshops, monologue writing workshop at the Budapest Contemporary Drama Festival 2016). She wrote two unconventional plays, which were both put on stage: The Blue Frankfurter – a bar play (2014) and this text was nominated in 2015 for the Vilmos-prize in Hungary. Farewell Therapy (2016) became the base of a theatre project dedicated to prevention and finding solutions for addicts called „Independents for Addicts”. At the moment Zsófi is living in Transylvania, where she is working with local independent theatre makers on different projects. During her latest project, the Make a Move residency programme in Targu Mures she met Julianna Bloodgood and they started to develop together Clouds Passing By/Vital Space – an interethnical theatre living installation. Zsófi is mostly interested in theatre making processes, which are trying to rethink the context of a performance. Being a part of a bilingual region dealing with interethnic conflicts, she finds it important to be able to reflect on the specifics of society in general. She believes that art can be a really good platform to open new dialogues and perspectives when it comes to collective traumas and she likes assisting in building up performances from oral history/storytelling of the people on the spot.
OUR ARTIST AT RISK RESIDENTS
Spartak Khachanov is from Kiev, Ukraine, where he was studying in his fourth year at the Kiev Art Academy when he was expelled by its Director for making ‘immoral’ artworks. The decision appears to have been politically motivated and followed a longstanding period of tension between the artist and the University.
The expulsion followed an art action in which Khachanov placed several hundreds of white plaster soldiers and military vehicles, all with suggestive phallic features, in a miniature military parade that occupied the corridors of the Art Academy. Since then he received threats from the far right formations in Ukraine. Following allegations that he is anti-Ukrainian, Khachanov argued that he simply wished to express his pacifism. Khachanov and his wife received threats and fled to Helsinki, where they were generously welcomed by the Artist at Risk organisation.
Artists at Risk’s AR–Safe Haven Sofia is co-curated by Radar Sofia and the Helsinki-based curatorial and residency platform Perpetuum Mobile as part of the Nordic network funded by the Nordic Culture Point “Immigré Artists (IA) & Artists at Risk (AR)”.