• Events
Sep 22
Ideas and Ideals: Strong Female Voices III ONLINE EVENT  Albertine Bookstore/French Embassy 972 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10075 
Sep 22
Ideas and Ideals: Strong Female Voices III ONLINE EVENT  Albertine Bookstore/French Embassy 972 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10075 
Sep 22
When the Waves Have Come and Gone Plage des Catalans

The Future of Street Theater with Begat Theater

"Histoires Cachées" in Brooklyn (New York) © Philippe Laliard

After 25 years of touring in France and abroad, translating plays into several languages, and the creation of a residency to host other theater companies, Begat Theater continues its momentum by bringing together more French and American artists through a new project with Portland's longest-running theater ensemble, Hand2Mouth, and New York's multidisciplinary group, WaxFactory. This collaboration in partnership with the Alliance Française of Portland and the organization Outside In will result in the presentation of a new play, HOME, that explores the places, feelings, people, and structures that come to define one's "home". Begat Theater and Hand2Mouth will deliver a moving and contemporary performance on the streets of Portland, a project supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in partnership with FACE Foundation, through the 2020 Face Contemporary Theater program

Begat Theater Takes Over The Streets

Co-founded by Portland-based performance designer Karin Holmström, Begat Theater , based in South-East of France , has a specific vocation: That of taking over space, and more specifically the street, to transcend the boundaries with its audience. With the evolution of technologies, the development of big cities, the new relationship of the human being with the outside world, street theater responds to an urgent social need and has become an artistic genre on its own, even if interdisciplinarity is its credo. Indeed, the choice of the street as a set is significant: In addition to the scenic objective of the performance, one must not forget that street theater questions the modern, cultural, association with the street as a public space that has become an impersonal corridor of circulation, dismantling social connectivity and dissolving human relationships. The street theater in which Begat Theater engages could be defined as a theater that interferes in the places of daily life, by delivering intimate emotional experiences in unexpected places. 

The Begat Theater's "Sound walks"

The company, created in 1992 in New York and imported to France in 1994, is in constant search of immersive plays and is considered as one of the creators of "sound walks". These "sound walks" consider the spectator as a fictional character of the play taking place in an urban environment. Let's take for example the play Histoires Cachées (Hidden Stories), directed by Erika Latta from 2010, performed again in 2019 during a tour in Portland, San Diego, and Brooklyn, and after the lockdown in 2020 in France between July and October. For more than an hour, spectators wearing headphones must follow an object stimulating social interactions in the street. One follows a newspaper, the other an orange, and everyone hears voices: the thoughts of passers-by who pass the object from hand to hand. Anonymity is no more, the spectator enters into the intimacy of the characters and becomes the actor wandering through the alleys and lingering at the bend in the road or a lamp post. This game of "sound walks" quickly became a signature for Begat Theater, which also produced the immersive plays La Disparition in 2016, ASKIP* in 2018, and La Fille suspendue in 2020.

Watch the teaser of Hidden Stories to have a look at Begat Theater's world. 

HOME, men, and women incorporated into the urban landscape at the center of a new performance

This is not the first time Begat Theater has met Hand2Mouth! In 2019, H2M co-presented Begat’s west coast US premiere of Hidden Stories, with the support of FACE Contemporary Theater. H2M ensemble members participated in the workshop and experienced the performance from the inside by helping to scout the neighborhood, enabling collaborations with local businesses, and being accomplices in the show. This first experience inspired H2M to persue an artistic collaboration between the two companies on the theme of HOME. HOME will be directed by Hand2Mouth’s artistic directors Jonathan Walters and Lucille Dawson (based in Portland, OR), and Begat Theater’s team leaders Karin Holmstrom, Dion Doulis (both based in France) as well as Begat’s long-time collaborator Erika Latta from WaxFactory (NY based). 

The new interactive performance will blend materials from interviews, and cinematic and literary sources that focus on the definition of what a home is, and what it means to place a home on unceded traditional territories and land with preexisting memories. What is ownership? Is our own body our only home? Is home a feeling? A person? A place? What circumstances force us out of our homes? What do we take with us when go from one home to the next? Why do we spend our entire life in pursuit of the perfect dream home in a temporal world? This new work explores the various perspectives and interpretations of what home is through a hybrid, interactive, site responsive performance, revealing definitions of home both culturally, in mainstream and nomadic societies, and the ramifications of our own desires, our need for ownership and our obsessive need to define the word "home" with walls and beams.

Impacted by the global pandemic, the teams found themselves inside their homes for extended periods of time and also bore witness to the loss of homes experienced through evictions due to the economic collapse, and those who entered the crisis experiencing houselessness. Our plans changed rapidly as we moved to working exclusively online without yet ever being in the same space together. This study of HOME comes from lived experiences of the creators and collaborators as well as special guests and, eventually, the audience participants. We discover together what it means to have and be HOME.

About Hand2Mouth

Hand2Mouth (H2M) is a theatre ensemble that creates original work that is bold, accessible, and inclusive. They support all forms of artistic expression and experimentation, and seek to enrich the social fabric of society through their work. Committed to fostering community through performance, engagement events, and educational programs, Hand2Mouth seeks genuine connections with audiences by speaking authentically from the voices and lives of their creative artists and community.

H2M creates powerful plays whose universal themes create opportunity for dialogue and exchange with strong impact. H2M reaches non-traditional theatre audiences, often by touring to communities where they live and work. Engagement is at the core of their work. H2M seeks connections with those whose stories are under-told, using their unique community-interview process to best reflect contemporary life and society through the experiences of current and past citizens.

H2M’s is Portland's longest-running theatre ensemble, whose work has been recognized with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, Rockefeller MAP Fund, and many other funders. H2M is one of only 50 or so Portland arts organizations that receive General Operating funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. 

In 2017, it established Student Voices, theatre education for underserved youth at multiple Portland SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) sites. From 2012-2020 H2M operated Shout House, a multi-use affordable and accessible community events space in the Central Eastside Industrial District.