Fragmentary narratives and also meta-theatre, that is « the play within the play » are very much one of my key focuses. It allows me to question the devices of drama and, more generally, the conventional ways of making a theatre piece. It opens the possibility of two distinct narrations: The story and the play. To define them: The story features the actors embodying characters and the play features the actors performing in front of an audience. This duality is what I’m playing with.
The story is what has been written by the playwright and the play is what I’m composing with the actors during the rehearsals but also every single night leaving space for improvisation in the body of the performance. It’s a great specificity of Theatre. It implies elements of Fiction, the story, and elements of Reality, the live performance. So as different temporalities: within the performance several times co-exist: the Story has been written ahead and sets in a fictional time whereas the play is speaking of the present time, the « here and now ». It speaks of actors and audience sharing the experience of the show in the same space at the same time. This is this very unique aspect of theatre. It is what attracted me to it and made me become director.
Even though I always engage a deep work on the text, I’m focusing on the experience: the live performance which allows a direct relationship between performers and audience. Theatre is the only art offering that device as a necessary element. Therefore the audience is a part of the show as a matter of fact. I’m acknowledging this fact in my work. I play with the theatrical devices to question the conventional ways of making theatre and attempt to form new processes more current and more relevant to the specificities of theatre
In practical terms, I expose all the theatrical devices: nothing is hidden. For instance there is no backstage. Or, I should say, no hidden one. I just mark the boundary of the performing space and you can see the actor coming in and out of it. You get to see the costume changes or the little ritual of preparation before entering the scene.
I try to base my work on fundamental elements of theatre: the performer, the stage (or performing space) and the audience. Then you can ad: the text (or choreography), lights and sounds. But no props, no decoration, nothing that is not strictly essential.
It is a very physically based work. The body is the performer’s main instrument. So I invite them to use it as much as they can. Especially at the beginning, when they enter the work, when they searching their marks on their part. Then their bodies and the interaction on each other become the cornerstone to build on.
I engage the actors to perform on two levels: as a character and as… themselves, using their bodies as markers. In other words, they will drop in and out of the character. It questions the character’s relevance and our prejudices towards this concept. At the end of the day, on a stage, the character is just a concept. I don’t think it’s the Alpha and Omega of performing art. It’s a construction that helps actor to figure their role. It’s certainly handy but it becomes too often a display of virtuosity from the actor. He’s too focused on his own acting performance and becomes less aware of the bound with the audience. When I go to theatre, I often have the feeling that if i wasn’t there watching it wouldn’t change anything to the performance. I feel a barrier between performers and the audience. So we don’t feel it affects us.
I consider the play’s character is made of words. Its face, its body, its flesh are the performer’s ones. So are its feelings and emotions. This is the performer relationship to these words and his embodiment of them that creates the main part of the stage character. The missing part will be completed by the audience.
The variation on performance level I work with is designed to deconstruct « the fourth wall », brick by brick. And it opens a direct relationship with the public. acknowledging the actual participation of the public in the play.
The result is very entertaining and fun as well as thought provoking. There is a lot of variations and a lot of things happening. You never get bored. And something I find very beautiful with theatre is even though you’re exposing every tricks the magic remains.
My main influence is the new german theatre. Directors like Frank Castorf, René Pollesch or Christoph Schlingensief. But also Pina Bausch.