A Discussion with Performers and Scholars of "The Ghost of Elsinore: Every Tzara Has His Dada"

Friday, September 9, 2016
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Please join us for a discussion with the performers and scholars involved in September 8th's production of The Ghost of Elsinore: Every Tzara Has His Dada, a contemporary theatrical collage celebrating the centenary of DaDa and its Hamlet-admiring visionary Tristan Tzara. Play by Ion Pop and Stephana Si Ioan Pop-Curseu. Presented by The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York and the East Central European Center of Columbia University. Co-production of National Theater Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Theater and Television of Babes-Bolyai University Cluj, and Persona Association.

Speakers will include:

Ioan Pop-Curșeu, PhD: "Benjamin Fondane: A vision of Cinema born out of Dada" (Film and Television Department of Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

Stefana Pop-Curșeu, PhD: "Tristan Tzara's Theatre and its heritage in the XXth century" (Film and Television Department of Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

Michael Finkenthal, PhD, (Research professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University)

This event is a next-day discussion to follow up the performance of the play on September 8th. For information about the performance itself, please visit THIS PAGE.

Performance description provided by the theater company:

On February 5th, 1916, Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings, together with painters Marcel Iancu, Hans Arp and poets Tristan Tzara and Richard Huelsenbeck, inaugurated the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich. This meant, implicitly, the birth of DADA, the artistic movement that radically transformed the traditional aesthetic norms and deeply influenced the art world for the decades to come.

DADA, the expression of a controlled chaos, had been closely linked to the world of performing arts, to improvisation and self-affirmationwhile insisting to shock the tame spirits. Wasn’t Mr Antipyrine, the main character of Tristan Tzara’s first play, the one who assumed the “authorship” of the first Dadaist manifesto read by Tzara himself on July 14, 1916? We can easily see that the brief but very intense lifespan of Dada movement was assisted by a constant theatricalisation of the group members’ life and work. Beyond Tristan Tzara’s passion for Hamlet, even before he left his homeland, theatre, in its “dramatic” or scenic form, never stopped haunting him: The First and The Second Celestial Adventure of Mr AntipyrineThe Gas HeartA Handkerchief of Clouds are the few plays written by Tzara. Marcel Iancu’s masks would accompany the Dada soirees, just as the strange costumes that would stir the longing for far-off lands. Furthermore, as emphasised by Henri Béhar, the poetic work“would be reduced to instant acts” in the authentic Dada manifestations; also,, “the Dadaists had to be on the stage” and become “actors-manifestos who did not perorate, but live their ideas as subjects and objects of their own demonstrations”.

Dada brought considerable and fascinating changes into our perception on Art on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Its effects continue to inform the artistic production even now: the challenge, the collective communication, the joy of a body abandoned to its natural violence, the release from any convention, the emancipation of language, the perilous overlapping of life and theatre (art), the involved, participative spectator who actively intervenes in the performance.

Based on this strong and intimate connection between Dada and the performing arts, the performance The Phantom of Elsinore: Every Tzara Has His Dad borrows the structure of Tristan Tzara’s play Mouchoir de Nuages (A Handkerchief of Clouds) and stages the extraordinary artistic legacy left behind by the Dada group. It celebrates the centenary of the birth of this avant-garde movement which has overthrown the foundations of traditional art and gave a fabulous impulse to modernist directions in the history of art.

Taking as a starting point Tristan Tzara’s texts (manifestoes, poetry, theatre) as well as letters exchanged with his Romanian Friends, from a dramaturgical point of view, the performance recalls to one’s mind, in a Dadaist spirit, the Poet’s biography, from the moment he left Romania and from the first soirées at the Cabaret Voltaire, to the end of World War I, to the moment of the auto-dissolution of Dada, and then, of Tzara’s distanciation from surrealism and refuge in the study of the anagrams in François Villon’s poetry.

The audience will assist and be invited to participate in a halucinant colage story, through wich theatre welcomes on stage dadaist manifestoes, silent films, dada cinematography, simultaneous poems, dada African songs, the aproximative man, the rituals, the anguish and the joys, the friendships and the dissentions of these exalted young men, lovers of justice. All this, under the shape of sad and joyfull phantoms, with avant-garde masks.