Zhang Xian’s Workshop

Real Black Box: imagination revives bodies

Radar Sofia Event

Event Details:

03 June 2019, 12:00

Goethe Institut

1, Budapeshta str., Sofia 1000

Radar Sofia and Drama Pact invite you to take part in the workshop of Zhang Xian, to be held in Goethe Institut Bulgaria’s Luft Studio, from June 3 to June 7, 2019.

The event will take place from June 3 to June 6 between 15h-18h, and on June 7, between 17h and 22h.

The participation is free.

If you want to reserve a place in the group, please send a message to applications@radarsofia.org with a short CV and description of your work practice (max. half a page).

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 Spektakel in 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.


REAL BLACK BOX imagination revives bodies

by Zhang Xian

Man is an animal in action, drama is the “art of human actions”, which is a simple truth that has made sense since ancient times. It became difficult ever since drama was made the “art of imitating actions”, whilst actions are no longer direct and relate to any subjects, but the objects of imitation, and “reproduced” in a given situation.

The Ancient Greeks built the first stone theater in which vast numbers of people were assembled and divided into two parts: few of them acted, the vast majority watched their actions. This is the original theater from Europe, and there is no differentiated tradition in Asia. The invention was not introduced to East Asia over two thousand years ago, which boosted the enlightenment of the local community. Paradoxically, it turns out to be a tool for slavery and imprisonment in autocratic states: people first find themselves represented in the theater and lose their liberty of expression. When they try to regain their artistic expression, they realize that their actions are also forbidden in real life outside the theater – the truth is, most people are unable to be actions of animals.

“Real black box: imagination revive bodies” project breaks through the regime of Art theatre and State Theatre, it is an Exodus from the associated implementation of domestication set by billions of surveillance camera, real and fake police, tangible and intangible laws and cultural institutes. It backs to the “agora” before the appearance of a stone theater. In short, let the flesh walk out of the stone to restore the ability and subjectivity of action, and practice individual and collective salvation.

Our talks and workshops will employ a variety of experiments in the social theater – actions and freedom, the black box and the penumbra space, the body and the poem, the mask and the media, logos and mythos, anarchitecting space, etc. Let the participants get out of the unconsciousness of everyday life, to perceive, recognize and reflect on their existence. Revive their body, to imagine a life seize after, and rebuilding the relationship among others creatively.


imagination revives bodies


I. Lecture

1.1 alternative theatre for creative anarch-spaces

  • slides presentation/interpretation
  • Q&A
  • reading groups
  • Duration: 3hrs

Facilities: classroom, projection

II. Workshops

2.1 actions

  • liminal acts
  • act and perform
  • actions and weak actions
  • performing and non-performing
  • naming and anti-naming
  • signal revolution
  • situational ethics interaction

Duration: 3hrs

Facilities: empty space, chairs, dolls

2.2 “The body at present”

  • activate the sense of smell and hearing
  • rhythm and movement
  • anti-visual imagination

Duration: 3hrs

Facilities: empty space, sound and smell source (self-supply)

2.3 “Mask and installation”

  • fast make-ups, transfiguration, installation, media extension, logos and muthos

Duration: 3hrs

Facilities: empty space, makeup and decorative materials (self-supply), reading materials

2.4 alternative theatre for creative anarch-spaces

  • dark as a mask
  • Brobdingnag and Lilliput
  • nursery rhythms
  • contact impromptu and non-contact impromptu
  • trust on diet
  • anarchitecting and constructing resistance space

Duration: 3hrs

Facilities: hall or free space, props for shading, prepared food and waste materials

III. Immersive Theatre

3.1 “Real black box” anarchitecting

  • all participants and local residents
  • no-audience situation
  • light dictator and vocal dictator
  • multithread generation and interaction
  • Holiday ends

Duration: 2hrs or improv

Facilities: hall or free space, props for shading, portable light and cookers, safe evacuation measures


Zhang Xian in Sofia
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