Took place Monday 7th June to Friday 2nd July 2021 inclusive
Each year, the internationally prestigious SITI Company (https://siti.org/about/) under the artistic directorship of Anne Bogart, Leon Ingulstrud and Ellen Lauren, invite artists from all over the World to work and train with this established and innovative theatre company who are regarded as being in the top 10 of theatre companies across the World. Anne Bogart is an internationally recognized theatre director, and is a recipient of many awards home and abroad. In 2004, she was invited to the Abbey Theatre to conduct a workshop as part of the National Theatre of Ireland’s Centenary celebrations.
This training and work normally lasts for a four week period in Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Saratoga Springs is the spiritual home for SITI Company, the initials standing for Saratoga International Theatre Institution.
Specifically, the pedagogy of training that SITI Company are Suzuki Technique, Viewpoints, Composition, Dramaturgy, and Process. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this training was held online and for a three week period. After being accepted in my application to train and work with SITI Company, I wrote to Michael Barker-Caven asking about the possibility of conducting this training and work at The Civic Theatre, and at the same time, I applied to the Arts Council for a bursary to support this exciting and innovative theatre work.
Thankfully, both Michael and The Arts Council gave their support for my proposal, and on Monday 7th June, I started my work and training with SITI Company in The Civic Theatre studio.
So what type of work do SITI Company do, and why?
Firstly, their work is intensely focused on corporeal engagement – in other words it is intensely physical. In simple terms, the Suzuki technique (not to be confused with Suzuki technique of music) focuses on the actor’s lower body, from the centre and down the legs and for the actor to connect to the Universal animal instinct through a series of techniques whereby they can do so, in order to create a body and voice that is poetic and metaphorical.
It requires a level of stamina and flexibility that may make it over-bearing for the beginner, or indeed, someone who may have a strong interest in his methodology. For this writer, it refocuses my centre, grounds my legs and my body to the Earth, leading to a unique way of breathing, where new physical engagement and vocal expression. and moving emerges. It is both a physical and spiritual transformation and experienced individually and crucially, as part of an ensemble.
Anne Bogart was so impressed with the quality of the work of Tadashi Suzuki and his ensemble that she co-founded SITI Company in 1992, and it was in 1993 that the second foundation of their theatre methodology led to what SITI themselves term, ‘the explosion’.
This was the introduction of Viewpoints on their second production, ‘The Medium’. The six viewpoints are as follows: Space, Shape, Time, Movement, Emotion, Story and were first introduced by two American choreographers, Mary Overlie and Wendell Beavers in New York in the 1960’s.
Eventually, they made their way into theatre. Viewpoints are a method of deconstructing the phenomenology of performance in real time, so that the performer becomes as much ‘a reader as well as a writer’. In other words, you are aware of the image you and the ensemble are presenting while you are presenting.
So each day, as part of our SITI training and work, we started with a class in Suzuki Technique, and followed subsequently by a Viewpoints class. These are always led by SITI Company members, and even on-line, one is very struck as to how detailed, generously talented, passionate and exacting the work is. Suzuki Technique is indeed, impossible to ‘master’, yet one simply tries to focus on one specific area each day to improve upon.
Viewpoints, conversely, is incredibly freeing in that it allows you to physically express, yet the apparent skill here is to monitor your own performance while performing so that what you are expressing is clear to an audience.
As part of the work and training, SITI Company gave us all an assignment where artist had to present a performance for their feedback and follow through on. Their notes are incredibly detailed and generous! The Company are SO encouraging have being working with this methodology for 30 years.
It is my earnest hope that a new play that I am writing will come to fruition in The Civic next Year and plan to bring this production to New York to have the opportunity to share this work with the Company who inspire me most, as mentors, namely SITI Company.
With most sincere thanks to all staff in The Civic Theatre who made this work possible and their enormous kindness.
Artist Bio: Michael McCabe
Michael McCabe is a graduate of the prestigious Ecole Internationale de Theater Jacques Lecoq, Paris, and the National Theatre school of Ireland (Gaiety School of Acting). His theatre appearances include ‘The Drowning Room’ (Project Arts Centre), ‘Borstal Boy’, ‘The Risen People’ (Gaiety Theatre); ‘A Christmas Carol’, (Cork City Gaol), ‘The Ginger Ale Boy’, (Belltable and Project Arts Centre) ‘Happy Birthday Jeanne Valet’, (Triskel Arts Centre) all for Corcadorca Theatre Company; ‘Lives Worth Living’ (Graffiti Theatre Company); ‘Brada Feasa’, ‘Diarmuid agus Grainne’, ‘New World Order’, and ‘The Changeling’, (Iomha Ildanach Theatre Company); ‘Promises Promises’ (Project Arts Centre); ‘Elemental’ (Black Box Theatre)‘A Day With Daghdha’, (Daghdha Dance Company); ‘Resist Surrender’ (The O’Reilly Theatre), ‘Wheel’, (Project Arts Centre); ‘The Libertine’ (The Crypt Theatre), Dublin Fringe and Prague Fringe Festival; ‘Macbeth’, ‘St. Joan’, ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’, and ‘Ariel’, (all at The Abbey Theatre); ‘Where the Shoe Pinches’, (Pavilion Theatre); ‘City Of Clowns’, (Barabbas Theatre Company); and his original adaptation idea of ‘Hyde and Jeckyll’
(Carpet Theatre) received a bursary from Culture Ireland, performed in Dublin and Prague Fringe Festivals. Michael performed in ‘Pagliacci’ (The Everyman Palace Theatre), which won best opera in The Irish Times Theatre awards in 2013.
His television and film appearances include ‘Aristocrats’, (BBC); ‘The Mystic Knights of Tir na nOg’, (Sky TV); ‘Ireland:1848’ , ‘Window’, ‘All God’s Children’, (all screened on RTE and at the IFI); ‘Bean Sidhe’, (IFI); ‘Ireland – 1848’, (screened on RTE and IFI); ‘Window’ (screened on RTE and IFI); ‘Smithwick’s-Are you going for a pint?’, (RTE and ITV); ‘Inside Out’, (Limerick Dance on Screen Festival); and the Irish feature film, ‘Sodium Party’, (Cork Film Festival) Michael was movement director on ‘Guerilla Days in Ireland’, (The Olympia Theatre, Everyman Palace Theatre) ‘Collecting Dolls’ (The Civic Theatre), ‘Macbeth’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Three Sisters’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘The Silver Tassie’ and ‘The Threepenny Opera’, ‘The Plough and The Stars’, ‘Antigone’(Mermaid Arts Centre) and participated of in ‘The Next Stage’ professional development programme with Theatre Forum Ireland and Dublin Theatre Festival.
In 2014, Michael was awarded a bursary from South Dublin County Council and a SITI scholarship to train with the internationally renowned theatre director, Anne Bogart, where
he directed a version of ‘Persians’, in New York. He has adapted and directed ‘A Wonderful Life’, (from The Frank Kapra classic film) ‘Peter Pan’s Cirque D’Imaginaire’, (from J.M Barrie’s novel Peter Pan), TUD Graduation showcases in 2017, 2018, 2019 all at the New Theatre. Last year, he directed Phillip Pullman’s ‘The Grimm Tales’, the graduation performance for B.A in Drama for TUDublin at Smock Alley Theatre.
In 2020, he also appeared in ‘Footfalls’, and ‘The Journey Home’, directed by Bibi Adigun, (The Coventry Belgrade Theatre). His most recent appearance was in ‘His Left, Her Right’ directed by Matthew Raili, at the Mermaid Arts Centre, broadcast as part of Culture Night, supported by Wicklow Arts Office and Mermaid Arts Centre.
His 25 year lecturing, facllitating and and Dramatherapy work includes TUDublin, Dundalk Institute of Technology, The Gaiety School of Acting, Trinity College Dublin, Dyspraxia Association of Ireland, St. Michael’s House, the HSE, Colaiste Chiarain Glasnevin, Barabbas Theatre Company, Kildare and Wicklow Education Training Board, University College Dublin, and National University of Ireland Maynooth. Michael has been training on-line regularly with SITI ensemble, and is a theatre artist with Smashing Times Theatre Company working on their upcoming arts festival ‘State as Violate and Protector Theatre and Arts Festival’ in October this year. Most recently, he was awarded an Arts Council bursary to train again with the internationally prestigious Anne Bogart and SITI Company which took place in a three week residency at The Civic Theatre.
Kindly Supported by Arts Council Ireland