We spoke with Carolina Chmielewski about Tales from the Wind. Carolina is the performer behind the upcoming production happening at Centaur Theatre as a part of their TD Saturday Morning Children’s Series on February 9, 2019. Carolina also works at Centaur so we were thrilled to talk to her about her experience in theatre!
Quebec Drama Federation: Tales from the Wind is inspired by Brecht’s epic theatre and Peter Brook. Can you tell us a bit about how you bring those qualities to theatre for young people and their families?
Carolina Chmielewski: This has been Cia. Paideia’s research for many years. We try to provoke and invite critical thinking and reflection. This need comes from an urgency to connect theatre and society, what is crucial in theatre for young people. We are inspired by Brecht and Brook to create work in which children can wonder if things should be as they are or if they could be transformed. In terms of the language of theatre, we work on the empty space idea, which is the space of all possibilities. We break with realism and play with theatrical language, allowing the viewer to imagine part of what is shown. We try to include what did not happen in what is shown to indicate that the story could have been different. We use breaks of action, time, space, and character. We try to show the different points of view within the same story. The goal is to create layers, in which different ages will understand and relate to the stories in different ways.
QDF: A theme of intergenerational storytelling and carrying wisdom is present in the production. As the only performer onstage, can you tell us about your technique in performing multiple characters?
CC: I think the first step is to think about why I want to tell these stories and try to understand the different points of view of each character – what are their motivations, issues and contradictions. Then, I create some striking features: it could be with my body, gestures, voices, posture, rhythm or with the gaze. I try to keep a flowing conversation between characters and to be precise when I change between them. I aim to do so without carrying characteristics over from one to the other. The idea is not to create a complete character necessarily, but rather establish some signs for the public to understand the story.
QDF: Can you tell us about your creative process performing for children audiences?
CC: For me, this was one of the richest artistic processes I’ve ever participated. The play was created in two versions in parallel: one with three actors and one musician and the other with each actor telling a story alone. The idea is linked to Brecht’s process in which the actors study the scene redoing it with different actors each time. It is a process in which I see my colleague acting and then I select what I want to absorb and what I want to add, so it was a very collective creative process. In addition, we created the play together with a group of students from a public school with which we have a 20-years partnership. The children came to rehearsals weekly to watch and make comments and critiques: the play was built from that exchange. During the process the children also discovered in practice the process of creating and staging a theatrical play.
You can see Tales from the Wind at Centaur Theatre TD Saturday Morning Children Series on February 9, 2019. Tickets are on sale here. Coming up at Centaur: Crabapple Trolls by Comedy Clownesque (Feb 23); FELT by choreographer Bill Coleman (March 9); and PB & Jam by Les CréActifs (March 16)
Carolina Chmielewski is an actress, theatre teacher and producer. Carolina was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she worked for five years at Cia. Paideia de Teatro, a troupe that has an extensive artistic and community oriented work whose main audience is children and young people. She has performed in eight of the company’s productions, being the main role in the play that premiered in Germany in a 5 year partnership with Grips Theatre in Berlin and premiered in Germany. She continues her research on epic theatre language of Bertolt Brecht and Peter Brook. As a teacher, she has worked with various age group, from children to youth people, but also with kindergarten and elementary school teachers. She worked for five years in the production of the Paideia International Theatre Festival for Children and Youth, especially in reception and support to international groups, including the Le Carrousel from Montreal. Carolina lived for one year in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she joined the group TeArt Amateur Theatre Group. Additionally, she worked as a volunteer for the Odin Theatre group and for the April Festival for children and young people. Since October 2017 she has lived in Montreal and currently works as Assistant Box Office Manager at the Centaur Theatre. She participated in workshops with Gervais Gaudreault and Micheline Chevrier and as a volunteer at the Festival Les Coups de Théâtre. In February 2019, Carolina will present a solo work by Cia. Paideia at the Centaur Theatre and will begin her work as assistant director in the play Fragments d’Ana, directed by Ligia Borges Carbonneau.