By WES JONES
Orion Dunaway, who has been a member of the Hippodrome’s Teen Ensemble since 2012, recently returned from Tuscany, Italy, where he took part in a week-long intensive workshop with the Workcenter for Jerzi Grotowski.
By way of background, Jerzi Grotowski (1933 – 1999) was widely known as one of the most important and influential innovators in theatre in 21st century. His directing and teaching style took a stripped down, minimalist approach with regards to sets, props and costumes, and instead put all the emphasis on the skill of the actors as the physical, spiritual and verbal vehicle for the art. Thus, his approach is one of the most demanding and challenging disciplines an actor can embrace.
Last year, the Hippodrome began a collaborative relationship with the Workcenter for Jerzi Grotowski, an international group of actors and directors who work to carry on his legacy. Last October we hosted Thomas Richards and the Grotowski group for a two-week residency, during which actors came in from around the world to work with the actors in our Teen Ensemble. Members of the Grotowski group helped develop a peer education workshop that culminated in a performance at a local recreation center.
During this collaboration, Orion’s focus and talent made such an impression on Mario Biagini, the group’s director, that he extended this invitation to Tuscany. Orion was born in Cross Creek, and has been a Teen Ensemble member since the group’s inception in 2012. He raved about his time there: “My time in Tuscany was educational in more ways than one. I learned not only valuable theatre skills, but skills and lessons which can be applied to every aspect of my life and self. I am so grateful to Mario, the Workcenter and all the wonderful people I met and worked with.”
About the Teen Ensemble:
The Hippodrome Teen Ensemble is a tuition-free, audition-based educational program for young actors, ages 13-19. The Teens design peer education performances and workshops and take them on tour to schools and neighboring communities after completing seven weeks of theatre training. Teen participants assume the role of actor, playwright, director – and most importantly – teacher as they share their knowledge to their peers and other members of the community. By assuming leadership roles, students build self-esteem, team building skills, and strengthen their ability to make positive life choices. Learn more.