Exciting things are afoot for MXTW!
Last summer we embarked on a new experiment as we added an international artistic and cultural exchange opportunity to our regular workshop fun. We had some friends from Norway come for a visit, and they shared with us some new works they had created in their own experimental theater workshop. Then we all got to work together in our usual ways to create something new together. It was such fun!
How this happened
In 2015 the Norwegian Experimental Theater Workshop (NExT) was begun in Oslo, Norway by Scenelusa Productions. Scenelusa was looking for a theatrical experience to offer the underserved youth of their district that would broaden their thinking and empower them to take creative action. They shared their wishes with a mutual friend and he suggested they might be interested in the methods used in MXTW (eternal thanks, Clay). Introductions were made and connections explored and in 2014 MXTW director Gwethalyn Williams and alum Megan Clark began consulting with Scenelusa on building a workshop similar to MXTW in Norway, the result was NExT.
Gwethalyn and Megan traveled to Norway twice to collaborate in person with the NExT staff and participants. Once to provide training to the NExT directors and help them start the workshop off and again at the end of their process to help with the final stages of preparing and presenting their work. NExT was a real success creating passionate new theater that was appreciated by near sold-out houses for every show and also providing exactly the kind of empowering experience for their students Scenelusa had hoped for. All of a sudden there were two groups of people working with our methods on two different continents, and in two different languages!
The obvious dream was to bring the two groups together so they could create together and learn from each other. Last summer this dream came true when NExT brought some of their students to Kansas just after the regular MXTW session had ended. The two groups of students got to share their work with each other, create some new work together, and of course hang out and have fun. We had a good time sharing Kansas culture with our Norwegian friends and learning about their culture from them.
The work of both groups and their collaborative piece were presented at a special MXTW encore performance. Seeing the work from both countries side by side was very exciting. Even though the NExT pieces were performed in Norwegian, the passion, dedication, and intelligence we have come to expect from experimental theater performances was on full display.
The final piece of the evening, a collaboration written and performed by both groups speaking both languages at times, was electrifying. As they told the audience at the end of their piece:
“We are like lightning forming our own path. Electrified unification.”
The energy and excitement created by the two groups was palpable in the air of the theater as their performance ended before an audience that sprang to their feet to applaud. Electrified indeed.
Next year will be the 30th annual MXTW and in celebration of this milestone we hope to complete the second half of this cultural exchange by bringing a group of students from Kansas to Oslo to share their work, make new work, and experience Norwegian culture first hand. This will be one of the largest undertakings MXTW has ever attempted and we will need lots of help to get it done, so watch this space, our facebook groups, and your email inboxes, MXTW fans. We’ll be asking for your help.
Can’t wait to get some more of that unifying electricity reaching across the globe!