“War is inevitable — but there are miracles. Every day millions of people die, yet we live as if death will never touch us.” –St. Vyasa, The Mahabharata
These words sit at the heart of one of the greatest epic poems—a meditation on war, death, and loss. Its core question is of a particular resonance: what should we fight for and why?
In an attempt to understand this exact question, Theater Mitu gathered hours of interviews with a range of communities worldwide: current and past members of military forces; citizens who have been directly affected by war; people diagnosed with terminal illness and their families; doctors, nurses, spiritual leaders, scholars, teachers, mental health professionals and artists. As they touch upon, come to the edge of, and often confront death, each interview becomes a portrait of what is left behind—a remnant.
In a time of seismic loss, where communities are prohibited from gathering en masse, Theater Mitu has reimagined the original live theatrical production of Remnant into an interactive digital experience titled </remnant>. Engaging Theater Mitu’s anti-disciplinary practice, where company members create and shape every aspect of the work, this piece will interject the interviews with found text, video/film, interactive web design and new media to create a unique online theatrical experience offering audiences an opportunity to gather virtually as a community. It will affirm how loss can scar us, shape us, and at times propel us towards change—towards understanding what we should fight for and why.
Driven by a commitment to innovation, Theater Mitu expands the definition of theater through methodical experimentation with its form. Framing art making as a mode of research and inquiry, Theater Mitu shares knowledge, sparks dialogue, and strengthens our community through cultivating radical ways of reimagining our world. Theater Mitu embodies this by way of our theatrical productions, trans-global research initiatives, artist support opportunities, education programs galvanizing the next generation of artists, and the curated programing of MITU580, our multi-use art space in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Over our 22-year history, Theater Mitu’s permanent ensemble of artists has utilized theater to build bridges across ideas, cultures, and communities. The company’s commitments to artistic rigor, disciplined exploration, and the continuous exchange of knowledge has led to national presentations of our work at venues including BAM, The Public Theater, Z Space, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Los Angeles Theatre Center, and Mass MoCA. Internationally, the company’s productions have been presented at The Cairo Opera House (Egypt), The Kontakt Festival (Poland), DuocUC (Chile), The NYUAD Arts Center (UAE), Patravadi Arts Center (Thailand), and the MESS Festival (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Theater Mitu has been awarded support from the NEA, New England Foundation for the Arts, MAP Fund, Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, CEC Artslink, Network of Ensemble Theaters, Mental Insight Foundation, New York Community Trust, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Cultural Development Fund, and The New York State Council on the Arts. Theater Mitu is committed to creating and maintaining a space that embraces the whole person as a vibrant and unique range of embodied experiences, histories, and imaginations. Theater Mitu asserts that identity is not negation but aggregation. These intersectionalities are essential to the vibrancy and growth of our work and our community.
Rubén Polendo is Founding Artistic Director of Theater Mitu. Committed to challenging the parameters of theater research and practice with Mitu for over twenty years, Polendo’s practice and pedagogical work is situated in the tension between acting and performance, theatrical design and installation, multi-media and interactive technology. Theater Mitu has been presented and developed nationally (including NYTW, Public Theater, Skirball, Lincoln Center, NAATCO, Rattlestick Theater, 3LD, Kennedy Center, McCarter, Perseverance, The Alliance, Mark Taper Forum, A.C.T., Sundance, Watermill, NACL, Zspace, Rubin Gallery, MassMOCA, NOLA Contemporary Arts Center, LATC) and internationally (including Patravadi Center/Thailand, CCPN/Mexico, DUOC/Chile, Visthar/India, UB Blkbx/Mongolia, Mansion Blatt/Lebanon, Manarat Al Saadiyat/ UAE, NYUAD Arts Center/UAE, Kontakt Festival/Poland, CIFCET/ Egypt, MESSFestival/ Bosnia & Herzegovina) . Theater Mitu has been company-in-residence at The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and at The NYUAD Arts Center. Polendo served as Theater Program Director and Associate Dean for the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. Polendo is currently Chair of The Department of Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.