NET/TEN Shareback: WaxFactory - Q+A with Ivan Talijancic and Ivana Catanese

2013 Fall Travel Grant Recipient

WaxFactory (New York, NY) founder Ivan Talijancic and core ensemble member Gillian Chadsey traveled to Mendoza, Argentina. Hosted by I [heart] MENDOZA founder Ivana Catanese over a 10-day period, WaxFactory members engaged in a series of exchange activities including performance training, shared practices in rehearsal and roundtable discussions on ensemble theatre making in US and Argentina.


In December 2013 WaxFactory traveled to Argentina for an exchange project, upon invitation from the founder of I LOVE MZ, Ivana Catanese. WaxFactory’s founder and artistic co-director Ivan Talijancic spoke with Ivana about her impetus and vision for this long-term exchange platform.

Q+A with Ivan Talijancic (Founder / Artistic co-director, WaxFactory, New York) and Ivana Catanese (Founder / Artistic director, I LOVE MENDOZA exchange platform, Argentina)

Can you explain what your impetus was to create I LOVE MENDOZA exchange platform here in Argentina?

Though I am a native of Mendoza, I had been a New York artist for 8 years the last decade, and had also been traveling around the world with different companies. When I moved back to Argentina, I realized that there wasn’t an international community that was bringing their work to be shared with the artists in this country. During the years that I had lived and worked around the world, Argentina had become very closed-in, and people here are starving for a community outside of their own. I realized I had the opportunity to create a dialogue. I grew up here in Mendoza, and the people that I grew up with are now protagonists in the local cultural sector. People that I went to the university with, for example my colleague Ruben Scattareggi started an English-speaking theater company as a means of helping teach English to local residents and so we started talking. Around the same time, a new facility was built by the city of Mendoza (Espacio Julio Le Parc), I went there to direct a project and realized that the key staff was basically all people I went to school with and we started discussing what this space could grow into in the coming years. Although it is a regional institution, we discussed how great it would be if it became more international, bringing more artists and visitors to the area.

Can you talk about the theater scene in Mendoza?  You had mentioned that it was rather insular -- does that mean that there isn’t a great deal of international work coming through this region?

There really isn’t much in the way of international presence on our theater stages. When we do receive international work, It tends to be from the neighboring countries, like Chile, but as you can imagine our aesthetics can often be rather similar in this part of the world, so neither the artists nor the audiences benefit from exposure to different ways of theater making and performance.  Here in Argentina, we work on a European theater model, where shows we produce may be presented a couple of weekends each month, and then possibly remain in repertory for a long time. It is not uncommon for local actors to be simultaneously cast in many different productions and perform various shows with different companies and on different stages over several months, sometimes even years. So, basically, you end up seeing the same people on the stage all the time.

I would like you to tell us specifically about I LOVE MENDOZA, which I understand you envision as a long-term exchange platform between local Argentinian artists and their counterparts from around the world. In several conversations that I was a part of during our exchange visit in Argentina, you referred to it as a kind of a “bridge”.

It really goes back to the origins of my company [The South Wing], which I started with my now husband, who is from the United States. At the time, he was working with and traveling with Tadashi Suzuki’s Company from Japan, they came through Argentina and were teaching workshops, which were wildly popular, and I was astonished to see just how much interest and eagerness there was to be exposed to something new, to experience a different approach as a tool to challenge and improve one’s own practice. Shortly after that, we started our own company and began touring, so I have had the opportunity to encounter many terrific theater artists internationally. My husband still works in Japan periodically, and also in Los Angeles, then he comes to Mendoza, teaches workshops and people are just clamoring to take them. I am thrilled to see that the participants are highly diverse – performers, directors, dancers, theater artists… Some people are writers and they just want to see how other people train. This helped me to gain an understanding of just how valuable these long-term exchanges can be to one’s ongoing development as an artist in theater. Having experienced it firsthand, it was clear to me that creating an infrastructure, a bridge like you said, to enable an ongoing flow of ideas between artists from different cultures in different parts of the world would become hugely influential not just to us, but to the international artists as well. I started with New York artists, because I lived there for many years, which gave me the opportunity to develop relationships with certain individuals and certain companies, whose training I am well versed in, particularly those whose approaches go beyond language.

How do you think your local community in Mendoza will continue to benefit from these exchanges?

Their work will grow; they will be inspired to tell their stories in different ways, and to use tools that are new to them. Furthermore, bringing international artists here to work with local artists, after these relationships are formulated, hopefully will result in Mendoza artists being invited to collaborate in other countries – such as the United States or Japan – to continue the dialogue we initiated here.


Le Parc
WaxFactory Methodology


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Posted by: 
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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