Theater TAS is a Los Angeles-based performing arts production company founded by Kaća Čelan in Sarajevo in 1984. Resurrected in Germany in 1993, it was reestablished in New York City in 2009 and since 2014 has been producing multimedia projects in Los Angeles.
The Theater TAS mission and vision is based on Kaća Čelan’s 30 years of experience working as an actress, director, playwright, producer and directing & acting professor in Europe (former Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Austria, Russia, Germany) and the US.
Theater TAS was at the beginning a performance space for renowned guest artists from classical and avant-garde theaters from across the world (The Beijing Opera, John Jesurun, Alchemical Theatre New York, Derevo from St. Petersburg, Na Doskah from Moscow, etc.) Their high esthetic standard was the main orientation for TAS productions ascribed to Kaća Čelan’s quill or created by her directorial hand.
The contemporary take on classical pieces (directing Shakespeare, Chekhov, Beckett, Sophocles, Kafka among others), “dressing old themes in new robes” with postmodern style, that forms the basis of the Theater TAS mission. The second, probably more significant component, is the production of Kaća Čelan’s own plays, whose main goal is the development of new genres in theater and which she personally considers her most original achievement (the direction of her dramas: “The Death of Omer & Merima”, “Heimatbuch”, “The Last Story”, “The Struwwelpit & Co.”, “Yard Sale: New Footfalls…”, etc.)
Kaća Čelan’s vision of theater heavily leans on the humanistic and ethical postulates of antique theater and on the pantheistic and renaissance dealing with human fate on all levels: the anthropological, psychological, philosophical, political, religiously-cultural. At the basis of her mission lies the interaction of the artist-performer within the cultural surrounding of multimedia.
In 1984 Kaća Čelan founded Theater TAS (Teatar Amfiteatar Sarajevo) in Sarajevo. Aside from hosting international theater productions and companies, Theater TAS was co-producer of the Shakespeare Festival, Moliere Festival and YU Fest as well as the festival of the best Yugoslavian plays, which included Čelan’s own play “Heimat”. The first Theater TAS productions included: “Triptych, a dream from life” (1985), “Everything and Nothing” (1986) – her dramatization of Borges’ story about Shakespeare’s biography, “Valde Confusus in Anima” (1987) and “The Death of Omer and Merima” (1987) by Čelan – her own rendition of the old legend about the Bosnian Romeo and Juliet. The last Theater TAS production in Sarajevo was Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. The production featured young actors, age 6 to 12, as Shakespeare’s heroes.
In 1993, with the help of Slovenian PEN, Čelan went to Germany following an invitation from the foundation established by and named after German Nobel-Prize writer Heinrich Böll. In his house in Langenbroich, she reestablished TAS in 1993, this time with qualification “in Exile”. Early German productions included: “Project 3” – featured in a two-year tour including Munich’s “Kammerspiele” & Hamburg’s “Thalia Theater” – and “The Last Story” (1995), a co-production with the State Theater of North Rhine-Westphalia WLT. Čelan found a permanent home for Theater TAS in the Knight Chamber of Burgau Castle in Düren, near Cologne. The postfix “in Exile” disappeared and the acronym TAS was interpreted as standing for “Theater Am Schloss” (Theater at the Castle). Productions of her plays “Woyzeck von Sarajevo”, “Cabaret International”, “Struwwelpit & Co.” (co-written with Maria Fuß), “Heimatbuch” (Homeland Book) and “Piccolo Fratello Francesco” followed. Three Shakespeare productions also take pride of place: “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet” – with 77-year old Juliet and 65-year old Romeo in the starring roles – and “Othello” – presented as a soap opera in three episodes. In Germany, Čelan also directed several plays with children: “The Robbers” (by Schiller), “Aska and the Wolf”, “The Little Prince” (as a digital fairy tale) and “Piccolo Fratello Francesco” (the story of little brother Saint Francis). Numerous productions followed: “Art” by Yasmina Reza, Aeschylus’ “Prometheus”, the poetry performance “Roses Are Immortal” (based on poetry by Mandelstam, Pessoa, Herbert, Celan, Whitman, Bachmann), Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, “King Lear’s Daughters”, Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”, Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, as well as the musical projects “Cabaret International Vol. 1 & 2”, “I Slaughtered my Aunt”, based on Frank Wedekind’s songs and Sophocles’ “Antigone”.
The first New York projects included “Yard Sale: New Footfalls…” (chashama, 2009 & DUMBO Arts Festival, 2010) and the production of Čelan’s “The Last Story” (The Tank, 2010 & HERE Arts Center, 2011). 2014 marks the continuation of this exciting history in Los Angeles featuring the multimedia production of "Blood on the Cat's Neck" by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut LA and Čelan’s “Woyzeck von Sarajevo” presented as a multimedia reading at the USC-Max Kade Institute.