IMALIS — ARTISTIC PROCESS
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Imalis is a vital movement of the performing artist to return to the source of theatre, both in themselves subjectively, but also in relation to their public and their peers -both present and past- and even, we could add, future… We rarely think in such terms, perhaps because of what they seem to evoke to our modern consciousness. A kind of awkwardness lurks there, or a discomfort one has difficulty pinpointing. Past, present, future: all terms that sound into our depths somewhat ominously. A fear really, of ancestors best buried and forgotten, of death, lurks there, of life, which working with and at the source allows us to connect with as performers in a vital gesture of recovery and renewal, of liberation of our creativity. Imalis is an ancient Greek word which means "spring," "source" of water, of life. It is the same word which we find in the name of the highest mountains of the world, Himalaya, which also means "the sources.

So Imalis is the term we use to encompass a method of work that can evolve, for each of us, out of a primordial recognition of the need we have to return to a direct contact with ourselves as a source of life, expression, intelligence, will and with our art of theatre, at its point of origin. Imalis is the desire to return to the sources, in their raw form, and to work concretely with the materials, the artifacts the spaces of the origin of theatre, not as cult, or spectacle, or ceremony, but theatre as such.

Particularly, Imalis is not only the recognition of this vital point as it exists, and finds its first expression, in the Ancient Hellenic tradition. it is a point of perpetual return, a pulse point to which each and every performer can, and has the right, to return to belongs to a wider movement in modern Greek theater, to stage Ancient Greek plays in their native tongue. Today, Imalis has grown into a unique experiment in the renewal of contemporary theater and performance research. As an organic creative process Imalis developed out of the discovery of strong links between Stanislavski-based acting systems and Ancient Greek performance practices and esthetics generally, and prosodic and musical forms specifically.

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Our artistic approach begins with reconstructing the vocal and physical techniques that make-up a preverbal language encoded in the poetic verse of the ancient dramaturges, known as prosodia. Our process involves the exploration of the primary texts in their original tongue as dramaturgical scores composed of raw sound forms (vocalizations), ritual and improvised movement and archetypal patterns. This score leads us to an inner fusion of sound and movement within a dilated dimension of rhythm and tone, a continuously evolving time and energy signature which the ancients termed orchesis, feeding and structuring the presence of the actor on stage, and out of which emerge the voice and mask of the role, in that order.

Our contact with this underlying structure of ancient performance practice, made evident its relationships to parallel sister traditions, not only Greek, but from many peoples around the world, that are still alive today. Thus our research process began linking the ancient theater forms through these living “sister” performance traditions to the rich practices of contemporary performance.

We invite living masters from these traditions to contribute to our research and training programs, from vocal traditions like the Greek amanes and Persian tahrir, Japanese butoh and gagaku, to the martial arts applied to performance, kalaripayattu, yoga and tai chi. It is in this sense that our practitioners and teachers contribute as much to a historic revival project in ancient theater as they participate in the renewal of contemporary theater practice.

By staging the primary poetic texts of the ancient playwrights in their native tongue, Imalis is also establishing a renewed basis for translation, as well as new play development (in Modern Greek as well as other languages). The exploration of these significant lines of research and their integration into a more fundamental understanding of ancient drama as a source of renewal for contemporary theater practice is the ongoing aim of Imalis as an artistic process. A significant documentation and publication project of our progress will be carried out and excerpts posted
here on a regular basis by the members of our research groups.

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A second meaning of Imalis, or Imalia, refers to a practice, a set of very ancient rituals and festive events belonging to Dionysos that has fallen out of use only recently with the wane of rural society in the past century. But, It can still be found in certain more remote areas of Greece and many older Greeks still remember the moment to which it refers, of the rising of the waters in springtime, when the village would gather around the source which the community celebrated with dancing and singing.


Many say that theatre came from the threshing floor in summer, others from the wine-press in fall, and others still, from the springwaters, happy at hearing the humans dancing and singing, rising, to meet them.


Imalis is based on an integral approach to ancient performance which we term “native tongue staging,” and which we identify as that source of pre-verbal and verbal encodings that our practice-based research extracts from the primary poetic texts, artifacts, popular traditions and natural environment that we still share with our ancestors and children… at the source.

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