“Each Meeting is a ‘New Birth’”

by Park Krausen

in Global Connections

Post image for “Each Meeting is a ‘New Birth’”

(Beleck Georges and Park Krausen)

(This post is part of the Global Connections grant program and blog salon)

“Chaque rencontre est une nouvelle naissance”. Translated, but somehow with a lot less poetry – “Each meeting is a ‘new birth’”. This is how Beleck Georges talks. It’s what he writes. This is his motto and “façon d’être”. In a way, he articulates what my head and heart have thought and known. His articulation always tends poetical. And so is he: gentle muse, sage, director, leader, and guide in a creative process.

“We start from nothing,” he says. “A void. Rien. We are in a space of meeting. Construction. Everyone brings something of themselves: first a word, then a gesture, their voice, their body, themselves, and then we bring it to a public and the public adds something, sees something. It’s an experience, an experiment, a meeting, a construction”. This is exactly what happened in our workshop/sharing with an audience in Atlanta. Beleck came to work with a group of artists between the ages of 10 and 50 in Atlanta, to guide them in personal and theatrical exploration which came to be called “Qui suis-je? Où suis-je?” (Who am I? Where Am I?). The workshop culminated in a “public sharing.”

History of how the conversation started.

Rencontre: Beleck and I met 2 years ago on a panel as part of the Carrefour Festival, an annual international theater and dance festival in Quebec City. We met each other and after a brief conversation, we were both compelled to continue the conversation and to work together. Two years later – after some “Nos” from granting organizations and finally a beautiful “Yes” from TCG’s Global Connections Program, we began a larger “rencontre” not only between the two of us, but between artists from Atlanta and Beleck from Port-Au-Prince.

We both see this as a beginning. We see the meeting expanding into a meeting between Atlanta artists and numerous artists in Port Au Prince, and then beyond. We are trying to bring artists from Atlanta, including myself to Haiti in December as part of another international theater festival. There, we will continue to collaborate in a similar fashion. There will be artists from French-speaking African nations in attendance as well and we will expand the circle.

Beleck and Park

(Beleck Georges and Park Krausen)

As often is the case in Beleck’s work – he finds that the meeting of bodies and voices in space naturally leads to a larger human question. These questions transcend borders.

What is more primordial than “Who am I? Where am I?” In this vein, the event of our initial meeting remains with us. It was such a startling yet familiar encounter. I can only attempt to describe it as both a moment where we saw in the other a kindred artistic soul and something so foreign at the same time. That experience of holding “the thing and it’s opposite” has become one of the sources for a future collaboration that is currently in a nascent stage of development.

My eyes, my heart, and my mind continue to open towards more Rencontres et Nouvelles Naissances in Haiti and in the US, between Atlanta and Port au Prince, Haiti and the US, COSAFH and TdR and Beleck Georges and myself.

Favorite moment from the “public sharing”: Georges challenged the actors and audience. He staged a scene in gibberish whose story and characters’ intentions were absolutely clear. The audience thought it must have been in Créole. The point – how little we need language to understand one another.

Park Krausen is a producer, actor, and the Co-Artistic Director of Théâtre du Rêve. Park is a bi-lingual theater artist and has acted across the U.S., in France, the Netherlands, and Poland. She has performed with a number of theaters around the U.S.: The Lincoln Center Living Room Series, Hartford Stage Company, The Alliance Theater, Chicago Dramatists, About Face Theatre, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival (3 years), Georgia Shakespeare (where she is an associate artist), Actor’s Express, Theater Emory, Out of Hand Theater (core company member), Théâtre du Rêve, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

She has worked with international directors including Arthur Nauzyciel, Andrzej Sewyern, Simon Abkarian, Olivier Coyette, Valèry Warnotte, and Frédéric Dubois as well as German Director, Walter Asmus (Beckett’s longtime assistant) and Polish director, Marek Kedjerski. Park served on the committee of the International Year of Beckett, celebrating Beckett’s would be centennial. She has produced over 30 plays and events for Theatre du Reve including international collaborations: 3 Pieces Courtes – Shorts by Samuel Beckett in French and in English with Walter Asmus directing; the commission and production of Olivier Coyette’s Voir un Ami Pleurer/To See a Friend Cry, which toured to DC, NY, Maine and France; Valère Novarina’s L’Acteur Sacrifiant with Valery Warnotte which toured to Limoges, France and DC. Favorite productions in the US include a new theatrical adaptation of Le Balon Rouge/ Red Balloon by Park Cofield and SO COCO, a theatrical experience creating a dialogue between theater, fashion, fine dining, and film. Awards include the 2010 Sunday Paper award for Atlanta’s Best Actress, and 2 Suzi Awards for best musical ensemble: Vive la Fontaine! and best ensemble: Metamorphoses. Park was nominated for best actress awards for her roles as Desdemona in Othello and Kate in Shrew: The Musical. She was also named one of Fenuxe Magazine’s 50 Most Influential People in Atlanta.

Park has served as a rehearsal translator for d’Arthur Nauzyciel, Eric Vigner, and Thierry de Peretti and translated Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps by Scott Turner Schofield, which was performed at CDDB in Lorient, France in 2010.

Park believes in cross-cultural dialogues through the arts, the mentorship of young artists, and theater as a way to access our connected, authentic, and persuasive voices and to connect our voices to our bodies. She holds a B.A. in theater and French from Emory University. 

Beleck Georges is a cultural journalist, playwright, director, and mentor from Cap-Haitien, Haiti. He is lettered in Sociology and served as a professor. He has published 7 plays. He also serves as the producer of Regards Croisés – The “Saturday Night Live” of Haiti, which was written up in the New York Times last July (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/arts/television/regards-croises-offers-haiti-needed-comic-relief-on-tv.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw).

He is working with an “American” Organization called Conféderation des Francophonies des Ameriques, which is devoted to keeping Francophone culture alive in the Americas – from Louisiana to Quebec to Haiti. He is currently developing a radio station to serve all of the Americas and would also like to develop a program with artists from his company and from Théâtre du Rêve. He currently has in mind programming driven by divergent social, economical, ecological, and cultural motors. Riffing on current events and the engines that drive us, and investigating the similarities and differences around the Francophone world.

Since the 1990′s he has been the Artistic Director of the theater company Comédie Sans Frontières or “Theater without Borders”, which he founded with his wife in Port-au Prince. As a theater, they work with young artists and are supported by the Foundation Knowledge and Freedom in Haiti. Georges Béleck built the Comedie Sans Frontières COSAFH as a theater with a cultural center attached, a space for creation, recreation, and production.

Beleck finds that the name “Theater without Borders” not only indicates physical borders, but also the belief that in theater we are without limits or boundaries. Under his direction, COSAFH works with more than 1,000 students per year. They develop their own work and then tour their performances around Haiti and abroad: in the French Antilles, in France at Theatre Du Tarmac in Paris, and in Laval at Theatre du Tiroir. They perform for thousands. His work supports literacy, play, and debate. He and the COSAFH members believe in the importance of stimulating a dynamic youth in order to construct a new society through culture and knowledge.

The Global Connections program was designed by TCG and is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Learn more here.