The Executive Committee of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC/AICT) is pleased to announce that the winner of its fifth Thalia Prize for Critical Writing is Eugenio Barba, theoretician, director, and founder of Odin Teatret in Denmark. The prize will be given in Beijing during the 27th World Congress of the IATC in October, 2014.
Eugenio Barba is one of the world’s most important writers on the subject of theatre anthropology. For critics and actors in the Western world, his writing opened new windows to acting, especially in relationship to Eastern tradition. His early works particularly popularized achievements of the Grotowski Laboratory and new methods of actor training. He formed a Scandinavian laboratory theatre called Odin Teatret/Nordic Teatrlaboratorium (1964), which still operates in Holstebro, Denmark; and he founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA) in 1979.
Eugenio Barba was born in 1936 in Brindisi, Southern Italy. His family’s socioeconomic situation changed drastically as a result of World War II. In 1954, Barba emigrated to Norway, where he worked as a welder and sailor. He went to Poland in 1961 after receiving a UNESCO scholarship to study at the state theatre school in Warsaw. Between 1962 and 1964, he worked with the Laboratory Theatre, assisting Jerzy Grotowski in his work on Akropolis by Stanislaw Wyspianski and Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Based on these experiences, he wrote his first book dedicated to Grotowski’s theatre – Alla ricerca del teatro perduto (In Search of a Lost Theatre, Padua 1965). In 1963 Barba traveled to India where he studied Kathakali, a theatre form which was unknown in the West at that time.
Barba has directed dozens of productions with Odin Teatret and Theatrum Mundi Ensemble including My Father’s House (1972), Come! And the Day Will Be Ours (1976), Brecht’s Ashes (1980), The Gospel According to Oxyrhincus (1985), Talabot (1988), Kaosmos (1993), Mythos (1998), Andersen’s Dream (2005), Ur-Hamlet (2006), The Chronic Life (2011).
The first ISTA session took place in Bonn in 1980. The most recent one was organized in collaboration with the Grotowski Center and took place in Krzyzowa and Wroclaw in April 2005. In his essay, Eurasian Theatre, or a chance, Barba writes, “ISTA allows me to gather theatre masters from the West and Asia, compare extremely diverse work methods and reach for the common ground of technique – common for the work of West and East, common for ‘laboratory’ and traditional theatre, mime, ballet or contemporary dance.”
Barba has published many essays and books. Among his most recent publications, translated into many languages, are The Paper Canoe (Routledge), Theatre: Solitude, Craft, Revolt (Black Mountain Press), Land of Ashes and Diamonds: My Apprenticeship in Poland – Followed by 26 letters from Jerzy Grotowski to
Eugenio Barba (Black Mountain Press), Arar el cielo (Casa de las Americas, Havana), La conquista de la diferencia (Yuyachkani/San Marcos Editorial, Lima), On Dramaturgy and Directing: Burning the House (Routledge), and, in collaboration with Nicola Savarese, The Secret Art of the Performer: A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology (Routledge).
Barba has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates for his artistic and scientific work from various universities including: Århus (Denmark), Ayacucho (Peru), Bologna (Italy), Havana (Cuba), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Edinburgh (Great Britain), Hong Kong (China), and Warsaw (Poland). He is also the recipient of the Danish Academy Award, the Mexican Theatre Critics’ prize and the Pirandello International Prize. He is member of the editorial boards of journals such as: TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, New Theatre Quarterly, Performance Research, and Teatro e Storia.
Previous honorees of the Thalia Prize have been Eric Bentley (2006) and Richard Schechner (2010) of the United States, Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (2008) of France and Kapila Vatsyayan (2012) of India.