In the years 1982 - 92 the theatre undertook work in three fields:
- searching for acting methods and performance creation (THE MANDALA PROJECT)
- presentation of street performances inspired by the folk drama and the theatre of the absurd (THE POPULAR PROJECT).
- experiments carried out by actors, painters and musicians in performance art, video art and installations (THE THEATRE GALLERY)
The directions we followed were to certain extent mutually exclusive. On one hand we spent months, even years, perfecting the acting technique, on the other we worked on performances in which this element seemed to be almost of no importance.
Sometimes only few people came to see The Mandala Project type of work, while the next day a few thousand watched The Popular Project performances.
Moreover, the projects developed in The Theatre Gallery did not have much to do with our performances. But this apparent incoherence helped the actors to develop specific working methods, the essence of which was the readiness to embark on the most difficult and complicated projects.
THE POPULAR PROJECT started with typical street performances (‘Circus Again’, Dr. Frankenstein’s Crazy Circus’) which included elements such as stilts, fire eating, equilibrist acts etc. to develop into what we call ‘anti-street performance’ (‘A Bench’) characterised by the rejection of all the ways of presentation mentioned above.
AT THE THEATRE GALLERY the individual works of the artists from the Mandala Theatre were displayed. No formal restrictions were introduced. It was important to present the end product as the expression of the artist’s vision at that time. If he did not agree with collective decisions, he was given a possibility to manifest, at his own risk, his independence to the other members of the group and the audience through all the means available.
The inspiration for the performances and projects came from different sources such as the oriental theatre, mystery plays, carnival and folk traditions of different countries and cultures as well as surrealism, absurd, dadaism and such contemporary forms as multimedia and virtual reality.
The first Mandala Project performances mainly inspired by the Orient (‘Aren’t we secretly...’ and ‘The Constant Prince’) evolved gradually towards projects in which the actor ceased to be the key element of the structure. In the 24-hour ‘Project Schulz’ it was the element of play and the audience that mattered. The actors only ‘watched’ the audience carefully.
This form of presentation came into being during visits of the artists invited to co-operate with the Mandala Theatre. It is a performance prepared by two artists representing different types of art. Its aim is not to prepare one more performance but an exchange of artistic experience between the artists themselves on one hand and the audience on the other.