Farm in the Cave

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Performing Arts (physical theatre)
Europe, Eastern
Czech Republic
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December 5, 2006
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Please note: This page has not been updated since February 19, 2007. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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 Farm in the Cave


Communication, place, tradition, love

Communication, place, tradition, love - there are a whole host of recurring themes that concern this young company. But the four shows Farm in the Cave has produced since its formation in 2001 indicate that it’s concerned as much with ways and means of expression as it is with what is being expressed. The theatre studio search for a physical articulation of that which cannot be expressed by other means: all their performances are a combination of “movement, acting, word, song, sound. Farm in the Cave trusts in the human imagination, in the willingness to read symbols and approach metaphors.” (Marta Ljubková: Farm in the Cave / The Song of an Emigrant /REFLEX magazine, Culture section, EX 13/05)
Their work is “reminiscent of Greek theatre, of Grotowski’s theatre, of theatre of all those times and communities that had the benefit of values shared between the stage and auditorium.” (Malgorzata Jablonska, Didaskalia) Grotowski is a useful comparison. The Polish director (1933-1999) declared that theatre should focus on the very core of the act of theatre, actors in front of spectators, rather than trying to compete with the overwhelming spectacle of film. He insisted that theatre “cannot exist without the spectator relationship of perceptual, direct, communion.” (Jerzy Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre. Simon & Schuster, 1968, p.19) For Grotowski, as for Farm in the Cave, the fundamental concern was the work of the actor with the audience, not the sets, costumes, lighting or special effects. Farm in the Cave defines itself through relations: you – I, body –voice, public – intimate, and many of the reviews comment on their success in making a connection with the audience. Writing about Sonnets of Dark Love Jana Pilatova said, “It got to me the way only theatre can, and even theatre only on its good day… I felt overwhelmed by things I had pushed into the background, things I thought I knew but did not, things about people and their suffering. And I felt involved.” (Tanecni zona (Dance-Zone))
In their emphasis on the unity of movement and song, and in their use of sources from minority cultures, Farm in the Cave belongs to the traditions of East and Central European theatre. Again, about Sonnets of Dark Love, a critic wrote, “In the context of Czech theatre I consider Dočolomanský’s project to be exceptional.” (Jan Kerbr, Divadelni noviny 1/03) Farm in the Cave should not be viewed simply in the context of Czech theatre: “I think it is quite right to say that this is a major event on scene of movement-based theatre. It is, in fact, a major event of the theatre season.” (Nina Vangeli, The happening of the year: Sclavi (The Song of an Emigrant), Economic News 8/3/05)
Sonnets of Dark Love was Farm in the Cave’s first creation, premiering in 2002. This stage composition, based on themes from the poems and the life of Federico Garcia Lorca, is a prime example of the methods of the ensemble, both in the process of creation, and the end result. The material and inspiration for the show was gathered through a process of workshops and study, involving a field trip to Andalucia. The main focus of the piece is the abiding love between Lorca and Rafael Rodriguez Rapún. Ewa Orebowska-Piasecka commented, “Without prudishness, but with great sensitiveness, finesse and wisdom they expressed the love of two men on stage.” (Gazeta wyborczej 7/7/04 International theatre festival Malta 2004) This is expressed in a physical language, based on the art of toreadors, the rhythms of bullerias, and cante jondo Gypsy songs. Words, and traditional forms of expression, become less dominating: “Silence, filled with deep breaths, the rhythm of tapping heels, traditional singing creates an extraordinary stream of narration.” (Tomasz Praszczalek, Rzeczpospolita 2/7/04 International theatre festival Malta 2004)
Farm in the Cave’s second project, SCLAVI: The Song of an Emigrant, premiered in March 2005. Again, it is based on extensive field research carried out by the ensemble in villages of eastern Slovakia, on old Ruthenian and Ukrainian songs, on letters of Slovak emigrants, and on the story of Josef Capek’s Hordubal. It tells the story of an anonymous economic migrant who returns to his native village in Slovakia after years spent in America. He finds that his return is not received in the way he had dreamed: his daughter does not recognise him, his wife avoids him, and former friends shun him. The creators of the performance are of Czech, Slovak, Polish, Ukrainian and Serbian descent, and with a hint of self-irony, they present the reality of the Slav experience in Europe today.
Sclavi won much praise at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2006, winning the Total Theatre Award (which is the only one of its kind, focusing on contemporary physical theatre), a Fringe First Award, and a Herald Angel Award. Joyce McMillan admired the “great courage in exploring the profound fear and mistrust of migration that lies deep in their culture” and deemed the performance “simply unforgettable.” (The Scotsman, 14.8.2006) Susannah Clapp wrote that “their complicated, defiant polyphony is the saddest, purest, most arresting sound on the Fringe.” (The Observer, 13.08.2006) The admiration for the show was abundant: “a theatre production which overflows with vitality and the optimism inherent to any artist who believes in the resilience of the human spirit. SCLAVI, \… is much more than mere theatrical entertainment.” (Mark Brown, The List 3-10 Aug 2006) The non-verbal means of expression employed by the ensemble were again found to be particularly effective: “the voice of this performance goes beyond the borders of language.” (Matthias Hassenpflug, Unidram: SCLAVI-The Song of an Emigrant from Prague) “Fascinating and extraordinarily stylized movement, working rather through fast nervy steps and jumps than with the quality of the curves of the human body, full of inner energy and tension. \… the movement is permanently connected with singing and sounds of the human voice, whispers, shouts which create a strange stylized music and transmit emotion more than words.” (Vitezslava Sramkova: The latin word Sclavi means Slavs as well as slaves, Podkarpatská Rus 1/05) “All expressive levels live together in a tight symbiosis, so that together they condense into an explosive mixture. \... the most outstanding element of the performance is movement.” (Nina Vangeli: The happening of the year: Sclavi ( The Song of an Emigrant ),Economic News 8/3/05)
The ensemble’s most recent project, which premiered in April 2006, is Waiting Room. This develops themes from a small sketch of the same name, which was a part of the Road to the Station theatre meeting. This event took place in 2003, in collaboration with the Norwegian street theatre group Stella Polaris, in a train station in Zilina-Zárecie, which had been the starting point of deportations of Slovak Jews to concentration camps in Poland. Waiting Room is set in the waiting room of a provincial train station in a far-removed corner of the world. The story follows travellers minutes before they leave their former lives to lose themselves in the unknown, and portrays their personal tragedies and loneliness from the 1930s until the present day: similar territory to Sclavi. Jana Návratová said of Waiting Room, in what is becoming characteristic of Farm in the Cave, “the entire musicality in \Docolomanský’s productions, exerts not only the direct instrumentation of the music and song, but also an emotionally impressive modelling of the production’s story. In connection with the exceptional physical performances, we have in front of us a choreographic theatre par excellence.” (The Brief History of Dishonour, Newsletter of bulletin 2/06) Although the subject matter and the setting of the piece were highly emotionally charged, Farm in the Cave handled this with skill: “it had the form of a theatre event so emotionally strong, that no skin was thick enough to face its attacks.” (M. Malickova: The way to the station, 6/10/03)
One critic has noted, “Farm in the Cave represent an approach to theatre which will never become mainstream, but is an absolute necessity for the existence of living theatre with a message.” (Marta Ljubkova, REFLEX magazine) Farm in the Cave’s productions engage the audience they do have, and ask timely questions about the way people live today. That should be mainstream!
Author: Alexandra Wood


Formed in 2001 and based in the Czech Republic, Farm in the Cave is an International Theatre Studio. It focuses on creating new productions, leading workshops and organising concerts and expeditions to minority indigenous cultures and is influenced by the work of Viliam Docolomansky, Farm in the Cave´s director. Its performances are characterised by precise rhythmic orchestration and strong statements. Farm in the Cave has performed in the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Great Britain, Korea, and Argentina and is invited to prestigious festivals throughout the world.



Production / Performance,
• 2006 - ´Waiting Room´. Premiere 28th and 29th April 2006 at experimental area NoD Roxy, Prague. Develops themes from a small sketch of the same name, which was part of the ´Road to the Station´ theatre meeting. A story of the space of the waiting room in a provincial train station in a far-removed corner of the world. • 2005 - ´SCLAVI /The Song of an Emigrant´. Premiere 03rd and 04th March 2005 at Svandovo Theatre in Prague-Smíchov. Explores the problems facing an economic migrant when he returns home to his native village in Slovakia after years spent in America. Finding himself a stranger with family and friends he finds that, having returned home, he is still without a home. • 2002 - ´Sonnets of Dark Love´. Premiere 12th February 2002 in Palac Akropolis, Praha. A stage composition based on themes from the poems and life of Federico Garcia Lorca.


Intermedia project,
2006 - ´Search for Message´ – ´Hledání odkazu´. Commenced in September 2006. A year long project organised by Farm in the Cave in collaboration with other renowned artists from Europe that all share an interest in cross cultural and multi genre art production. Several research expeditions will be carried out as part of the project. The entire project will culminate next May in the Svandovo Theatre at the FARMA 2007 festival.


• 2006 - Total Theatre Award (awarded by British physical theatre magazine Total Theatre) for ´SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant´ performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
• 2006 - Fringe First Award (awarded by The Scotsman and The Fringe Society) for ´SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant´ performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
• 2006 - Herald Angel Award (awarded by British newspaper The Herald) for ´SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant´ performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
• 2006 - won the main award at the Czech Alfred Radok Prize for ´SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant´.
• 2006 - Main award Velijka Maricice at the International Small Scenes Theatre Festival in Rijeka, Croatia, for the performance ´SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant´.
• 2005 - Viliam Docolomansky and Farm in The Cave were awarded the Divadelní Noviny (Theatre News) and Sazka Prize for Movement-based Theatre for the staging of "SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant".
• 2004 - The "Voices of the East" project achieved the first position in an I-theatre poll in the category of Extraordinary Theatre Act.
• 2004 - Farm in the Cave´s project ´Road to the Station´ was awarded the European Enlargement of Minds Annual Award by the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam.
• 2003 - Viliam Docolomansky was awarded the Slovak Literary Fund Award for his direction of "Maids" (Jean Genet, BDNR, Bánská Bystrica)
• 2002 - Viliam Docolomansky was awarded the Trojan Horse Award in choreography for his work on "Marketa Lazarova" (V. Vancura, directed by J. A. Pitínský, National Theatre, Prague).
• 2002 - The staging of ´Sonnets of Dark Love´ was nominated for the best performance of 2002 in a Divadelní Noviny (Theatre News) poll. It was also nominated by the Alfred Radok Foundation for best staging and music.


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Farm in the Cave: SCLAVI

Part of the 2006 aurora nova festival

(04 August 06 - 28 August 06)


Farm in the Cave´s website

SCLAVI/The Song of an Emigrant
Waiting Room
Waiting Room