Learning Intensively for Theatre

Berlin 28 June to 12 July 2008

Director: Benno Plassmann

LIFT Off is a 2-week workshop programme for young performers linking the approaches of experienced theatre makers into one intensive experience. Students have the rare chance of developing their creative strength by taking skills from each of them. These workshops were put together as they all develop the ability to perform in theatre situations both in theatres and outside theatres.

1. Musicality / Actor / Text

with Anna Helena McLean (Brighton, GB) & Dawid Zakowski (Warsaw, PL)

Led by Anna-Helena McLean and Dawid Zakowski, this work incorporates training from the Polish theatre companies, Gardzienice and Studium Teatralne. Their training is a dynamic, physical and musical theatre training that aims for the heart, awakens the spirit and opens the mind’s eye. The process draws on yoga, chorus work, acrobatic partner exercises, the art of gesture, and indigenous folk & gypsy songs to explore scenes from some of Shakespeare’s plays. This workshop is suitable for professionals and students of music, dance and theatre as well as other practitioners interested in a psycho-physical approach to performance and text.

After training as a cellist Anna-Helena McLean was for seven years principal member of Poland’s Gardzienice Centre, led by W. Staniewski. She performed the title role in their production of “Electra” at Berlin’s Hebbel Theatre, London’s Barbican, New York’s La Mama, and many other theatres around the world. Since then she has gone on to found her own company Moon Fool, and she teaches at a number of academies in the UK, Poland, and the US.

Dawid Zakowski was principal actor of Warsaw’s Studium Teatralne from ‘97-‘07, led by Piotr Borowski. He co-developed the company’s training and led workshops for actors and students in Poland and abroad. At the Latinamerican Theatre Festival in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 2006 he was awarded best actor. Dawid is now joining Anna in the research into new approaches to text.

2. The Actor’s work and laughter

with Zé Regino (Brasilia, Brazil)
& Pip Hill (Berlin)

Following the success of his performance and workshop in Berlin last summer, Zé Regino returns to work with performers who want to widen their repertoire of physical comedy. The workshop will explore insights into laughter and comedy first developed by Sigmund Freud, adapting and developing them through work with physical actions in Stanislavski’s sense. This approach is regularly used by Zé Regino in the creation of new shows with his company in Brazil, Celeira das Antas – Companhia do Riso, and most recently in the co-production with Berlin-based British performer and clown Pip Hill.

The workshop is the result of Zé Regino’s more than 20 years’ of work as comic actor and stage clown, and his research including a recently completed four-year research project at the Federal University of Brasilia. Pip Hill will assist Zé in the running of the workshop.

3. Pulcinella – Introduction to the Commedia dell’Arte

with Valerio Apice & Vincenzo Mercurio (Naples, Italy)

Who has not heard of them, the Italian actors of the Commedia dell’Arte, inspiration for generations of theatre makers! For centuries they have travelled far and wide with their masks and their improvised performances – yet to this day they remain a fascinating example of Mediterranean warmth and poetry, as well as of great technical skill and entertainment. In this workshop participants can explore some of the elements of the mask’s cultural history, its practical performance value, and the link to musicality. Following the success of the mask exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute, and of his performance in Berlin in 2007, Valerio returns to Berlin to strengthen the link with the South!

Valerio Apice and Vincenzo Mercurio are actor-musicians from Naples, home of Pulcinella, one of the mythical characters of Commedia dell’Arte. For the past ten years they have worked internationally with Teatro Proskenion from Calabria/Southern Italy.

Practical information:

This year’s LIFT Off session takes place at Berlin’s Theaterhaus Mitte in Koppenplatz ( Working sessions will start at 9.30 hrs, and will last until approximately 18.30 hrs (with lunch provided at the theatre). Cost of participation for the whole session is 225 EUR (this includes workshop fees and lunch; it does not include breakfast, dinner or accommodation in Berlin). A non-refundable deposit of 75 EUR will be payable upon acceptance of your application, and the full remaining fee has to be paid no later than the first day of the session. Applicants who committ to the full session and / or who are between 18-26 years of age will be preferred.

If you are interested, please send an e-mail and a brief CV to

The LIFT Off session is supported by the German-Polish Youth Exchange Foundation and by the Brasilian Culture Ministry.

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