Diva Divan


Diva Divan is a collaboration between International Culture Lab and Margo Korableva Performance Theatre in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Physical theatre actors, visual artists and writers from each country worked to jointly create a performance. Ideas were developed in workshop settings in each city and were expanded upon using Internet resources. Each discipline -- writers, visual artists, actors -- took the lead at various points in time as collaborators become inspired to move the process in a desired direction based on each other's input. Through this process, a rich landscape is created in which each committed artist has a maximum stake. The project culminated in a performance at the Coney Island Butoh & Theatre Festival, March 11-13, 2016.



In August of 2014, Nick Fracaro and Gabriele Schafer traveled to Tbilisi to initiate the project with David Chikhladze, director of Margo Korableva Perfomance Theatre, and his collaborators. At the invitation of the Giorgi Leonidze State Museum of Literature, we met in the museum's inspirational courtyard and soon Diva Divan was well underway.

From there on out, both companies held workshops in their respective countries, exploring various ideas and ways of working.


On March 15, 2015, in a first foray into public performance, seven New York divas go "shopping" at Ikea in Brooklyn:



On May 15, at the invitation of the Center of Contemporary Art-Tbilisi secured by David Chikhladze, three members of the New York ensemble joined Nick and Gabriele in a 3-week visit to Tbilisi to introduce their Georgian counterparts to their Butoh-based methods. One exercise created by Paula Lalala, one of the New York group's visual artists, was to make "self portraits" -- drawings created with charcoal or chalk by choosing either the black or white side of a 4'x6' piece of paper.

Lines, like movement, have different qualities -- hard, soft, frenetic, flowing, etherial, practical, violent, peaceful... A line drawing is the trace of ourselves that is left behind with the passage of time.

These works came about after various forms of self-exploration and guided meditations and as such are a reflection of the performers' inner life at a specific point in time -- the traces of themselves left behind at the time of the drawing's creation, the particular dance that existed within them captured in time and space.



Over the course of ICL's three weeks in Tbilisi, the Diva Divan collective held three public workshop performances. The first was at the CCA gallery where the "entitiy" drawings were inspirational as well as on exhibit. The other two were public explorations, one in the city and one at Lisi Lake.




The challenge was to merge ICL's method of going back to our ancestors, our DNA, in order to understand who we are and what we'll carry forward to posterity, with Margo Korableva's "mapping" work, premised on the idea that we have an individual distiny laid out for us but a choice in how we each decide to walk our road.

We began generating text as well. Eva Melas, another ICL visual artist, introduced cups into the New York process early on. She had an exhibit coming up at Brooklyn gallery Proteus Gowanus and was interested in seeing how her exploration of cups -- the vessel as metaphor -- could enter the Diva Divan process. We developed various exercises -- vision quests of sorts -- that allowed the performers to endow and personalize their individual cups. We then asked them to look at everyone else's creations and write 3 to 8 words about their immediate impressions of each cup. The lines were put into a sequence by one person in whatever way they chose to arrange them. Themes emerged and both individual and collective ideas became manifest, this time in the form of words.

This process was repeated in Tbilisi.



The day after ICL's return to the US, on June 6, 2015, Nick, Gabriele and ensemble member Mary Catherine Donnelly decided to make a ceremonial presentation in Georgian folk tradition of the Margo Korableva performers' vessels to Eva at her opening reception at Proteus Gowanus. This was to be Proteus's final performance.