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1999-2001: France/UK

by Ant Hampton and Sam Britton

voice: Gad J Sabba

Cassette: Stephan Press / Veronique Adler

performers / performances:

Henri Taib, Thomas Courcelles, Alexandre Archenoult - Theatre de l'Echangeur, Paris, Nov1999

Barnaby Crocker - East End Collaborations Platform, Queen Mary and Westfield University, London - 29 May 2000

Tassos Stevens, Mark Shearer, David Rosenberg, Lucien McDougall - Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London, July 2000

Nick Daniel, Neil Saffer - British Festival of Visual Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, October 2000

Christophe Marchand, Phillippe Delaunay, Guillaume LeBraz - Theatre de l'Echangeur, Paris, Nov 2001

CLICK HERE for more info about the ROTOZAZA T.O.C.A.R.PROJECT that BLOKE sparked off.

[this is page 2 of TOCAR works] - click here for next page > ROMCOM ]

above left> Phillippe Delaunay..."Make the rabbit walk".

Above right> Christophe Marchand... "Drop your lower jaw in amazement".

above left> Phillippe Delaunay

right> Christophe Marchand... "Blow up the balloon while running in circles. Blow it up until it bursts. Don't be afraid".

All photos on this page from the last time [BLOKE] was performed - at the Theatre de l'Echangeur, Paris, 2001

We wanted to create a situation for him where the responsibilty to perform was lifted from his shoulders **, where we could say to him "it will work perfectly if you simply do what we say". So we wrote a text of imperitives, a list of orders which would lead Henri and whoever watching him along and through something resembling a story.

** but what does that mean to take away the responsibility to "perform"? When we say "responsibility", we're implying that in the theatre it's someone's JOB to entertain an audience. So if we say to an audience that tonight it's not the job of the person on stage, because he hasn't got a clue as to what he'll be doing, then that responsibility is shifted elsewhere. We look around wondering who's in charge. This kind of tension in the room fuels whatever happens.

The voice giving the orders, which is pre-recorded, is heard by the audience and the performer at the same time. So, as an audience, for every instruction we're aware that mentally we're doing the same job as the BLOKE: thinking of how to respond and carry it out. As well as this there's the attempt to project the implications of a command further into the future and past; we "wonder" about what might happen, and form a standpoint from what's happened already.

To do either is difficult in [BLOKE] because the motivation of the voice giving orders is kept deliberately ambiguous. Instructions keep us on edge, and range from the banal - "blow your nose" - to practical - "tell us what you have in your inside left jacket pocket" - ,personal - "point to the most beautiful thing you can see in this room, now. It's not necessarily a person. Take your time" - to the incomprehensible "tell us what's in your suitcase. Don't look", where often the command implies a guess is the only way forward. Sometimes they're a mixture, eg personal / practical, "Cry. [long pause] Use the bottle of eyedrops if you like." Occasionally we forget it's an order at all, eg - "Don't worry".

The idea was always to have the orders he was to follow PRE-RECORDED . In this way, the structure - utterly rigid and "closed" - would clearly foreground the very human, "open" process of negotiating and carrying out these instructions. Sam Britton's exquisite sound work, however, gives a clarity and presence to Gad Sabba's soft, ambivalent voice and it's only when a command is repeated, with exactly the same intonation, that one realises it's a recording.

In a later version he's asked about halfway into the show to put on a pair of RADIO HEADPHONES. From this point on [keep scrolling right!] we don't hear what he's being told to do, we only see the result. However, the orders being given to him are projected in text form above him. This sets up a very illustrative process; it seems further away and easier to watch than before, and the atmosphere gradually becomes more removed and dream-like ... until we realise the projected text is starting to LIE about what he's being told to do. We're faced with having to reject the offer of being "taken away" as we wonder even more about what he's really being told to do.

Below is a review by Hettie Judah in The Times, "British Festival of Visual Theatre Highlights" 10.10.2000

CLICK HERE for more info about the ROTOZAZA T.O.C.A.R.PROJECT that BLOKE sparked off.

[this is page 2 of TOCAR works] - click here for next page > ROMCOM



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