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On The Road_Echoes_Summary of Malá Inventura Festival by Orsolya Bálint

Malá Inventura is one of the most well-organized, artistically ambitious and professionally engaging performing arts festivals I have visited in the region, both regarding the performances, the programs for professionals and the added events – thanks to the 14 years of experience, the diverse international network and the creative resources added by the organizer Nová síť z.s. The mindful, precise and enthusiastic work and the exceptional hospitality of the members and volunteers of the association made the festival visit an especially memorable experience.

From the artists presented, we had the chance to see well-known, already established creators and ensembles of the Czech/Slovak area (Spitfire Company, Jaro Viňarsky, Petra Tejnorová, Handa Gote Research & Development, Andrea Miltnerová & Jan Komárek, ME-SA / BOD.Y etc.) as well as talented upcoming local artist featured in the association’s Young Blood on the Stage program.

Among them, I need to mention the group Ryba Řvouci, who performed their physical theater piece Práce (Work) in a set of a construction site. The performance was intriguing and inventive in its scenery, subject, musicality and execution as well. Although after the promising beginning the end was dramaturgically less dense, the performers on stage still held the attention with their charisma and quirky humor.

From the performances in Alfred ve Dvoře theatre, the ‘alchemist’ piece Mutus Liber by Handa Gote Research and Development and Wariot Ideal’s costume comedy, The Pirate and the Apothecary provided as extraordinary, complex, visionary and entertaining theatre experiences as the ones we have seen previously from the two groups, beautifully synching scenery, music, and dramaturgy on their very own and unique artistic ways. The excellence of the piece Tranzmutation we have seen this time from the dancer-visual artist power duo Andrea Miltnerová and Jan Komárek was rather the visual storytelling and the ambient-style screening on stage, a little bit overshadowing the sophisticated still energetic choreography. 

Since we have watched the performance Kabaret de Sade by Depresiní Dĕti in Czech language, I can only intuitively say that it was an intellectually challenging, text-heavy, provocative and absurdly comical piece, very entertaining for the mostly young adult audiences. Still I should note that Venuše theatre with its ‘baroque punk’ atmosphere and amazing underground – even though technically puritanical – stage cold be a superb residency spot for artists looking for smaller, more intimate venues (and they can be chosen as partners for VARP-PA applications as well).

The performance Sniper’s Lake by Spitfire Company (directed/choreographed by Miřenka Čechová) in Divadlo Ponec felt a bit uneven, not truly matching the high artistic quality of the performances I have seen before from this great ensemble. Especially because the subject – the human and social drama of the refugee crisis in Europe and anywhere in the world – should really hit a nerve with the audience, but mainly since there was an actual sniper sitting in the audience rows all the time, acting very calculable, it was really hard to get over his presence and move to a more metaphorical or abstract interpretation.

On the other hand, I have found the performance Let Me Die In My Footsteps by ME-SA / BOD.Y (choreographed by Renan Martins de Oliveira) a strong, mature and boundary-breaking creation, I could very well imagine this performance in the program of L1danceFest, and as I have learned, it has already been selected for Aerowaves Spring Forward showcase in Pilsen.

Because of its feminine subject and its original, serious yet hilarious approach to the many roles of women and their perception by the society, the performance Hit By a Flower directed by Petra Tejnorová felt the closest to my heart. Even in spite of the slight language barrier (since the performance was partly in Czech, but subtitled in English, except for the fresh input of the audience) the piece was not solely entertaining but thought-provoking too, with inventive, versatile and very conscious choreography by Jaro Viňarsky. Because of the similar Eastern-European socio-cultural background, this piece could really work in Hungary as well, where women are sharing similar problems and challenges with Czech women. In case it would be possible to invite this performance, the best would be to tour it in the country where women’s political, economical and social situation is even more lagging than in the capital cities.

The last performance of the festival was Cow Love by the France-based ensemble Société Protectrice De Petites Idées, presenting the mutual annoyance and pecking rituals of a couple with splendid absurd humor, virtuosic acrobatic movement language, great live music – and immense trust on both sides. The two performers (who are a couple in real life as well) created a masterfully entertaining yet very smart piece, with minimalistic equipment, but enormous wit and performing talent, which absolutely resonated with the audience – it will be worthwhile to follow their path in the future as well.

Among the programs for professionals I have to mention two important events: first the speed dating, where 17 artists presented their work, changing tables in Studio Alta every five minutes to each of the producers, festival organizers and managers present. The unusual setting proved to be very enjoyable as well as really efficient, since the artists could give a firm first impression about their projects, their creative processes, personal attitudes or at least raise interest for further conversation even in this short time. This method of networking is really useful when there are so many potential partners and collaborators to match with each other, since a short ‘date’ like this is already sufficient to decide whether the artist or their work fits into a program of a festival or theatre, and if they are open/available for co-operation with an association, and ask later for more material, trailers etc.

The other important event was the discussion round Looking for Partners, where every invited guest could introduce the association, theatre etc. they are representing in plenum, and I was especially fond of seeing so many friendly and interested faces at the tables. Although many already knew or heard about the activities of L1 Association, it was a great opportunity to go more into details and tell about our plans for the annual L1danceFest in September and the activities of the Critics’ Self-Educating Workshop KÖM by L1 Association. Summing it up, it was a really rich, substantial and productive experience to participate at Malá Inventura festival, with several memorable performances and meetings with many long-time and lots of hopeful future partners. 

Orsolya Bálint - KÖM by L1 Association
Malá Inventura 2016, Prague (CZ) 25-29th of February 2016

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