Legend for Witkacy: Theatrical Research of Pure Form.

Adam Houghton is a professor, actor, and director. As professor, he has taught at Brigham Young University, The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Beyond working in academic theatre, Adam has acted and directed in New York with Handcart Ensemble and worked regionally at South Coast Repertory, Missouri Repertory Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, Sundance Theatre Lab, In the Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theatre, Teatro da Bexiga, WPA Theatre, and Artistry Theatre. And outside of the US at Horse + Bamboo Theatre in the UK. Adam is a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.


This presentation is a theatrical performance of a work in progress. Its history began with a period of experimental research in which Adam Houghton, as director, and a group of actors developed a performance of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s 1922 play, The Cuttlefish, or The Hyrcanian World View (Polish title: Mątwa). This was developed and had a workshop performance at Brigham Young University (BYU). The main research question in this beginning work was based on Witkiewicz’s essay, “On a New Type of Play,” which posed the value of Pure Form over psychological realism. In this research, the team sought to develop a theatrical vocabulary that would produce compelling, truthful, and beautiful theatrical performance without psychology.
After this research period and workshop performance, the project has developed further by taking up additional texts as source materials. During this next phase of the research, we seek to create a performance that is compelling, truthful, and beautiful with an emphasis on Pure Form, but the additional texts allow us to expand the thematic scope of the story to include three major human themes: identity, love, and mortality. This creative research and development is currently underway at BYU.
Though we are six Americans working on this project, we are working with texts written by Europeans, and all the company members have travelled and/or lived abroad (in England, Germany, Austria, Hungary, South Korea, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Thailand, and the Philippines). Those experiences living abroad were impactful enough to allow company members to speak some of the respective languages of these countries fluently (i.e., German, Hungarian, and Korean). We know the value of an international exchange of ideas and the power that recognizing common human experiences has on the creation of meaningful art. IUGTE conference is truly an ideal venue for the presentation of this performance.

This performance attempts to reveal truth about universally human themes: identity, love, and mortality. These are not new themes to the theatre, but they are worthy of ongoing, current creative exploration. This project seeks to answer questions like:

·      How can we reveal the inner experience of identity using theatrical conventions?
·      What is the value of love in a technological, militarized world?
·      How do powerful relationships transcend and influence our conception of mortality?
This work uses performance techniques used in American theatre, physical theatre, puppet theatre, and mask theatre. This work is developed based on the following source materials:

·      “On a New Type of Play” by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
·      A Dog’s Heart by Mikhail Bulgakov
·      The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
·      Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

The play is not an adaptation of these stories, rather it is an amalgamation of images and events inspired by the magical and transcendent elements in the stories. 

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"