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TABULA RASA, A CLEAN TABLETOP

“Tabula Rasa is faith. Tabula Rasa is.” TABULA RASA, an experimental theatrical troupe from Prague, breathes new life into scrap materials, old entities, thoughts hidden under the surface, and materials deemed useless and redundant.

WORDS BY THE AUTHORS / The tools of self-presentation and the need for self-expression have shifted significantly in recent years, not only by the onset of living in the virtual space. Capturing attention. Gaining feedback. Being accepted. Coming up with something never seen before. Breaking through. Everyone is their own PR specialist.

Even at times when the cultural nourishment of the majority of Czech society consists of one great recyclate of TV variety shows, wannabe singer-songwriters, rockers with vague messages, bad musical aftertaste and the discount-o-machine, there are still many possibilities how not to participate in this “new normalization”. By just ignoring it, for example, and doing your own thing. In every case, it’s a context / space that surrounds us and in which we move. We consume means, sources, and energies that we exchange for feelings of “abundance”.

The TABULA RASA concept came to life about two years ago. But the work from which it resulted started a few years earlier. Classmates from the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre of Prague’s DAMU, Mikoláš Zika and Jan Brejcha, started to make up a functional artistic tandem already during their studies. In the summer of 2018 and after working together on various cultural projects, we’ve naturally merged on the beer garden of Dejvická nádražka.

Tabula Rasa is faith.

Tabula Rasa is.

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We try to get oriented in the present-day world. Our work, perception, and speculating have a certain ecologic-philosophical dimension. We do not strive to literally name single details.  We are not trying to be somewhat appellative. Through our distinctive approach, we work with poetics, metaphors, and artistic depiction of current affairs. It’s a possibility. A tool. The way of refining a shared point of view. We invest our time and skills into the belief in the whole and the individual. We insert ourselves onto a blank page. 

Tabula Rasa is a possibility. Tabula Rasa is an ability. Tabula Rasa is dissimilarity. Tabula Rasa is variedness. Tabula Rasa is togetherness and partnership. Tabula Rasa is an idiosyncrasy. Tabula Rasa is solidarity. Tabula Rasa is a challenge and a gift. Tabula Rasa is excitement for something. Tabula Rasa is persistence. Tabula Rasa is a dream and reality.

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It’s not easy to express in writing the principles of our shared view of the world and, at the same time, to get rid of clichés and pathos. It’s a feeling where if you want to describe it, you’re bit worried about its nature, meaning and conviction being drowned in the words. Because this matter ends up in a current. It’s fragile but, at the same time, very stable. We find ourselves in the middle of a circle, amid polarities. Gradually, we look for balance. We draw on dualities, opposites so the current won’t stifle us and we could breathe. Through the nose, at least. We enter the stream, discover the spring of our being, search for the courage to do courage, we hold the formation mutually so not one of us feels fear and the need to grab onto the bank, to which they probably won’t even make it and if they did, they would stay there alone. It’s not easy but, all in all, there’s nothing simpler. We vouch for one another within the whole. Co-vouch.

Words are words, actions are actions.

TABULA RASA is a forum where opinions, artistic tendencies, expressions, feelings, efforts, and stories mix but consist of a single slab. One onto which all this has been already written. A slab that can hold an inexhaustible number of stories. If you lay the unworked slab on its smooth side so you could inscribe it, the other side bears the depth and substance. Between the smooth, blank side and the depth is matter, which creates the whole. It is written from all directions and in all directions. It is created from within and from without. An autonomous world is being created. Creation is an escape and also a bond.

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We work with various types of materials. Trash, things long unused to which we give new a meaning. We’ve been very lucky to considerable extent since this approach sometimes brings situations where a certain thing or a material, figuratively speaking, finds us by itself. It’s about the communication and relationship with the supposedly “inanimate” world of stones, wood, iron, tools, fabrics, words…

We live in the conviction that a different approach, in the Planet’s current setting, is not possible. It’s necessary. Recycling, using the existing, not flooding the circulation with “new” and, again, useless stuff which essence and meaning no one will discover because they don’t have one or because it’s about the obsession over freshness, shininess, bliss. We connect the already created.

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We’re fascinated by elements. In the next theatrical season, we would like to work on the FOUR ELEMENTS cycle. We treat it like a singular spectator experience. We aim to impact every sense of the viewer. To set the spectator on a certain contemplation through visual experience. We would like to touch the essence of things and artistically process topics that are contemporary but also a little forgotten.

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We believe, regarding the current state of our globalized society, that it’s time to re-evaluate the approach to a great number of phenomena and entities, which not only became a commodity thanks to the influence of the industrial revolution, capital, modern technologies and other tools of modern history, but also started to rather radically stand against civilization. The FOUR ELEMENTS cycle we would like to devise as a fascination/celebration of the individual elements and, at the same time, a certain contemplative stopover over the seemingly self-evident entities that accompany us since the beginning. 

Tabula Rasa is an outlook on the world and the approach towards it. We want to surround ourselves with work and honesty. To go to the essence and to the depth of the blank slab.

Words are words, actions are actions.

Words / Jeník Tyl
Translation / Františka Blažková
Photographs and videos / 
PROROCTVÍ: Teres Bartůňková
CERN: Kryštof Zika
KOLONIZACE: Jan Hromadko

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