Students gave Slovak theater director Viliam Docolomansky confused looks when he asked if poet Allen Ginsberg had lectured at Yale.
“The beginning of my work in the theatre was influenced by Allen Ginsberg,” he explained.
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“That is why I asked, with the great hope that Allen Ginsberg gave lectures at this university,” he continued, to scattered chuckles when his planned introduction failed to deliver the intended effect.
About twenty people gathered Wednesday in Trumbull College as Docolomansky discussed his philosophies on the nature and purpose of theater. Docolomansky, founder of Farm in the Cave, an award-winning international theatre studio, also spoke at length about his formative experiences as a director at the tea, co-sponsored by the Yale Repertory Theatre and the World Performance Project.
A teenager in Eastern Europe during the fall of Communism, Docolomansky described his first encounter with Ginsberg’s poetry, and later the poet himself, as “an unbelievable experience.” But it was another poet that led to Docolomansky’s ultimate decision to focus on directing instead of music composition, his other passion. After traveling to Andalucía in Spain to study the life of the early 20th-century Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Docolomansky and several colleagues collaborated on a theater production originally slated to be performed in three months. The production time ultimately stretched eight months, draining away his savings. But Docolomansky was nevertheless pleased with the outcome.
“I could not go back to performing Shakespeare in three or four weeks,” he said.
In addition his travels in Andalucía, Docolomansky and his studio have traveled to Poland and the Slovakian countryside, documenting life among the Gypsy (Rom) and the Rutulians in further pursuit of the “creation of theater upon the straight reflection of reality.” Recognition for these efforts has been forthcoming; Docolomansky was recently nominated as a candidate for the XI Edition of the Europe Theatre Prize, which will be awarded later this month.
Farm in the Curve’s most recent endeavors have included archiving songs and letters from Slovakian migrant workers in the 1920s and 30s as part of a project entitled “Sclavi: The Song of an Emigrant.” In the project, Docolomansky said he intends to “not only transmit human experience, but also a human message.”
Docolomansky’s focus on creating a personal vision resonated with Matthew Strother, ’08, who felt that Docolomansky’s work was “deeply personal and engaging in a way not found at Yale.”
Adam Horowitz ’09, said the director was articulate, despite the nature of the talk.
“I’ve heard people talk about [similar things] before, and I was very impressed with the way he was able to get into the subject material.”
Docolomansky’s ensemble, Farm in the Cave, will present “Sclavi: The Song of an Emigrant” at the University Theatre from tonight through Saturday.