|Cesena, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Bjorn Schmelzer|
photo Anne Van Aerschot
rosas: holy communion achieved
A lone performer, barely visible, arrives at the front of the apron and begins to vocalise. He drones, gasps, intones, and growls. I can just make out the grey outline of his flexing, heaving ribs. Soon his voice is joined by other voices issuing from the shadows. They harmonise in modalities that originate in Renaissance and Middle Ages church and folk music. While the lights give me just enough visibility to place the first performer, the new voices won’t let me fix sound to figure. I must receive with my ears only.
Cesena, by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Bjorn Schmelzer (Belgium), was originally performed outdoors at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, starting in pre-dawn half-light at 4.30 am. The indoor version parallels the transition to full morning light without attempting to mimic nature. More light will come as the show progresses.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this collaboration between choreographer and musical director is the way dancers and singers are seamlessly integrated. The greatest vocal challenges are left to the singers, and the most difficult movement solos are left to the dancers; but for the most part the bodies all sing and move—to very high standard. Walking, turning, rolling and singing with collective intent, the performers form a community of initiates with a holy mission: to awaken the sun—or its proxy, electric light. They succeed. My primal fears are allayed by the light, and my spiritual yearnings, associated with Gregorian chanting and the like, are fulfilled.
societas raffaelo: communion interrogated
|On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God by Societas Raffaelo Sanzio|
photo Klaus Lefebvre
Castellucci seems to have created all this as a test. Certainly for the characters—will the two men give in to despair? But also for the audience—as we watch the dreary and sometimes comical routine we are assaulted with the acrid odour of shit. Yes, Castellucci has polluted the theatre with a sulphurous stink. Some spectators hold their nostrils shut. As usual with Castellucci, the visceral nature of the experience is also a theatre game. While “regarding the face of the son of God,” I try to discern his attitude to the two men; I check my empathy levels while having my senses assaulted; I negotiate with the representation before me—to what degree do I identify with, and care about, the real-life situation portrayed? During one of the son’s exits for towels, the father unscrews the lid of a jug and pours more brown fluid over himself and the whiteness of sheet, blanket and floor. The son returns to find the father crying and begging forgiveness again. Who is testing whom? Later in the show, about a dozen pre-teens throw metal, grenade-like missiles at the giant face of Jesus, achieving not a dent. They then sit and contemplate the image. Jesus remains impassive. Someone just passed or failed a test again, but I can’t tell who.
madlinsko theatre: out of the body & in your face
|Damned Be the Traitor of His Homeland, Mladinsko Theatre|
photo Ziga Koritnik
Eventually, the actors ask the spectators, “Where were you when the slaughter in Srebrenica was taking place only 400 kilometres from here?” Of course, they don’t ask this when performing in Montreal. They find other ways to challenge the Canadian audience: for example they note that Canada’s oppressive Indian Act provided much of the basis for South Africa’s system of apartheid. With blanks fired loudly and frequently from a pistol, and with most of the show occurring almost in the lap of the audience, Damned Be the Traitor is a shock and awe performance that keeps me alert and on edge. The ‘awe’ part is largely in the handling of pace and rhythm by the director. Frilic’s sense of proportion is impeccable. He knows when to shift gears and when to surprise. As a result Damned Be the Traitor is a well-oiled, political-funhouse ride, one with amusements that turn nasty but never feel gratuitous.
motus: process makes imperfect
|Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2, Motus|
photo End & DNA
FTA: Festival TransAmériques 2012, Montreal, Canada, May 29-June 4; for credits and company sites, see www.fta.qc.ca/en
RealTime issue #110 Aug-Sept 2012 pg. 16
© Alex Lazaridis Ferguson; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com