Our Process

We Read

During the first two weeks, participants read and discuss examples of experimental theater from throughout history. The authors studied every year vary, but authors we have studied regularly include The Futurists, The Dadaists, Gertrude Stein, Bertoldt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Peter Handke, Samuel Beckett, The Open Theater, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Foreman, ntozake shange, Mabou Mines, Suzan Lori Parks, and Charles Mee, among others.

We Move

During this time, the participants also begin working together as an ensemble to build the skills needed for these styles of performance. This work includes vocal and physical exercises with an emphasis on exploration, but also stressing precision, commitment, and focus. We use many sources for these exercises, but we rely principally on techniques developed by Augusto Boal, JoAnne Akalaitis, Ruth Zaporah, and Peter Brook. Each year a number of the staff bring new techniques into the mix as well. Over 28 years, we have modified several of the exercises quite a bit to suit our purposes, and we are also always on the lookout for new techniques to try. For this work we strive to create an atmosphere of utmost respect between the participants and each other, and between the directors and the participants, and most of all respect for the work that is being done.

We Create

In the last three weeks the participants break into small groups and create their own original theater pieces. They rewrite a story familiar to our culture using the techniques of one of the authors they have studied. Each group uses the same story, but the techniques of a different author. The company also works together to create two shorter pieces performed by the whole group. Stories the participants have chosen to work from in the past run the gamut from fairy tales such as “Cinderella” and “Snow White”, to cultural pillars such as the book of Exodus, literary works such as A Christmas Carol and Frankenstein, and works of the dramatic canon such as Oedipus Rex and Hamlet. The choice of the story is made each year by the participants as a group, so there is no telling what stories we may tackle in the future.

Most of the styles we work in require the performers to embody emotional states physically, rather than psychologically. We tend to focus our staging on abstract movement and the environment we can create with our bodies and the power of suggestion. Our performers wear white shirts and black pants. We perform on a set of platforms more like a jungle gym than anything representational. Part of the workshop is educating ourselves and our audience, to broaden our definition of what theater is, so a lot of the work we present is challenging for the audience, but it is also very compelling, and has very funny moments and very touching moments that can be experienced very deeply by the audience, even if the way it is presented is unfamiliar to them

Our Participants

Participants come from a variety of backgrounds; some interested in literature and writing, some interested in theatre and performance, and others just interested in engaging in something wholly different for a summer without knowing what they are getting into. Alums of the program speak again and again of the positive effects of the workshop on their continuing lives. Those who go on to work in the theater often claim that their workshop performances were better than almost anything they have done or seen since, and the alums who went on to have careers outside theater tell us that they are grateful for the sense of self confidence and ability to look at things from different perspectives they gained from the workshop. MXTW offers young people the experience of having something entirely of their own doing turn out successfully because of their respect for each other and for the work and because of their creative courage, at a time when such an experience can be life changing.

Playwrights We Have Studied

Rachilde (1860-1953)
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
F.T. Marinetti (1876-1944)
Bretolt Brecht (1889-1956)
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
Tristan Tzara (1896-1963)
Antonin Artaud (1896-1948)
Tawfiq al-Hakim (1898-1987)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Umehara Takeshi (1925)
Heiner Müller (1929-1995)
Harold Pinter (1930-2008)
Adrienne Kennedy (1931)
Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999)
Richard Foreman (1937)
JoAnne Akalaitis (1937)
Lee Breuer (1937)
Betsuyaku Minoru (1937)
Gao Xingjian (1940)
Peter Handke (1942)
Joan Schenkar (1946)
Ntozake Shange (1948)
Suzan Lori-Parks (1963)