In the summer of 2017, a group of actors and musicians, directed by Maria Lexa, will present a series of outdoor performances featuring theatre, dance, comedy, masks, giant puppets, and live music. The project is entitled Kosmos, and will be produced in collaboration with FO-Aarhus. Kosmos will hold rehearsals and performances in Aarhus, and tour in other parts of Denmark. The production will be created by a nucleus of professional artists and organizers in collaboration with skilled emerging performers. The group's presentation will consist of a parade through town, followed by a choreographed 30 minute performance, which involves the audience interactively. From July 25 - September 25, Kosmos will be performed free of charge for a broad audience of all ages and from all cultural backgrounds.

Shows and tour: In a collaboration with the Women's Museum, Kosmos will be performed during Aarhus Festugen 2017 from August 25 - September 3 in Mathilde Fibigers Garden outside the Museum. Other planned guest performances include the Eutopia International Festival in Gellerup, Folkestedet in Aarhus, appearances at refugee centers in Jylland, and a tour of selected educational institutions (højskoler and efterskoler) in Denmark.

Collaborative structure: Maria Lexa is artistic leader and director of Kosmos, and FO-Aarhus is the technical and administrative arranger. Kosmos' project coordinator, Rikke Pedersen, performs organizational duties, and a directing assistant from the group is responsible for artistic and practical tasks for the performance. The cast will consist of 12 - 15 performers with experience in theatre and music, who are chosen through auditions. During the production, the group will function as a theatre ensemble. The performers will not receive wages, but they will receive professional training and valuable experience with artistic production. Kosmos' collaborative partners include: Quonga Teaternetværk, Aarhus Universitet, Eutopia, DATS, Folkestedet, and Kvindemuseet.

The performance: To achieve its unique dramatic quality, outdoor theatre must be clear, simple, and visually powerful. Kosmos features the art of the mask, which is a special branch of physical theatre. Likewise, the art of performing inside a 10 ft. tall moving puppet. The production's masks and puppets are artworks in themselves. Kosmos uses wooden masks, some handmade by mask carvers in Bali, others by Danish artist Kirsten Gitz-Johansen. The production's giant puppets are created by Maria Lexa. Kosmos is performed without words. It creates a universal language through physical expression, music, and vibrant visual imagery. The piece is a homage to Mother Earth, telling the story of the wee folk who honor her, a gang of unruly monkeys who create chaos around her, and Father Earth, whose visit brings about an unexpected turn of events. Kosmos' underlying themes are nature's power, care for the environment, peace, motherhood, and relations between men and women.

Time frame/practical information:
In its scheduling for the performers, Kosmos is structured as a summer project.
Theatre workshops/auditions for performers, led by Maria Lexa:
   November 5-6, QuongaFest 2016, Aarhus
   April 23, April 30, May 7, May 14, 2017 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at
   FO-Aarhus Studio, Vester Allé 8-B, 8000 Aarhus C
Rehearsal period:
April 23 - June 18: rehearsal every Sunday, 3pm - 7 pm in FO-Aarhus’ Studio
June 25 - July 25: intensive rehearsals
   Rehearsals at FO-Aarhus’ studio: June 25 - July 10
   Rehearsals at Det Blå Hus, Højbjerg: July 11 - July 25
Premiere Kosmos: July 25
Performance period: July 25 - September 25
Conclusion, evaluation, final accounting: September 26 - 30

Maria Lexa studied in Paris with master teacher Etienne Decroux. She began her professional career with Studio II at Odin Teatret in Holstebro, Denmark, and she co-founded Institutet för Scenkönst in Östersund, Sweden with theatre director Ingemar Lindh. From 1981, she toured Scandinavia and Europe with her solo performances L'Odyssée Illustrée and Kilden, working also as director, master teacher, and leader of her own theatre group. In 1990, in Aarhus, she founded Foreningen Freja. Under her leadership, Freja organized six international women's art and culture festivals. Since 2001 she has been the artistic leader of Sun & Moon Ensemble, a theatre organization in San Francisco, whose performances feature theatre, dance, comedy, masks, giant puppets, and live music. She regularly teaches theatre workshops in Denmark and in 2014 she directed the performance Medea, Medea, an original work, in collaboration with QuongaFest in Aarhus.