The Entertainer

 

"One still attempts to give meanings that normally pile up to give sense to the artificiality of things but fails. Instead one is forced to experience basic feelings. Meanings pile up for a while, because we are used to this codes, but soon enough you begin to feel how the piece deconstructs you. You begin to feel molecules that fight for survival. You fear that those ones on stage will not injure or kill themselves by mistake from questioning about the meaning of their existence. 
It is that sole and lonely matter on stage that the spectator observes, and reflecting within himself. Even if no one will say a word after the show, you will observe signs of a dehumanization. They will soon be recovered because the piece does not pile up layers of shock but rather takes away, just like you would peal leaves off a cabbage sprout, to uncover the bright bursting center."

 

Hana Vodeb, video artist, writer and environmentalist, on The Entertainer, 2012

 

 

The Entertainer speaks about a particular violence - the violence of sensation. The work stems in my cross-disciplinary research in choreography, performance, and figuration (Performative Figuration), gathered into a thesis (Per-forming the Figure), and dedicated to my mother. I was inspired by the notion of the Figure as a sensation, as Cezanne and Bacon painted. The Entertainer began evolving as my graduation piece, concluding my MA study in choreography. Co-produced by ARGEkultur Salzburg it has developed into a full evening performance with edgy dramaturgy, creating emotional polarities in the audience. Some people remained speechless, couldn´t categorize it,  what to do with it. The Entertainer appears to be personal, and as such it tends to affect the beholder personally as well.

In this performance project I was interested to stage four performative portraits of the performers I worked with. I associated their figures with four figures of cabaret and burlesque: the striper, the comediant, the singer, and the pianist. The performance displays a confluence-like composition of four solos, performed in two acts: "This is not my cup of tea" and "My fat experience".  The aesthetic of this work borders to a kind of exhibition(ism) and installation. In this work I developed a fascination in the composition of images associated to dreams. 

The particularity of the performance is the authenticity of sensation and duration of every stage action, that affect the rhythm, and perception.  Both acts work with the principle of the performtivity of senses, enhancing the kinesthetic perception. This affect provokes the watchabiliy of the piece; it was said that either it has a strong affect to "pull one into" a voayerism, or it "pushes you away", in the awkwardness and disgust, provoking emotional polarities. 

The narratives of The Entertainer are associated to the absurdity (of entertainment), failure of pleasing, yet creating, in teh spectators,  more desire to indulge deeper into pain and violence of sensation. While one kind of audience would prefer the performers to stop, the other one seeks for more. "This is not my cup of tea" reflects the idea of adaptation to new situations and working conditions, doing something that one doesn´t know yet, starting from zero, a sense of tabula rasa, while mastering a new skill as absurd as it seems. "My fat experience" raises the question of how entertaining a drama, even personal one, can be in the presence of the beholder. Going to the extreme of physical investigation, the absurd reality and connotation this has with self-destruction, as if one must destroy a part of oneself in order toregain the ability to feel; resistence and pain endurance, to the level when ones senses become numb. Yet there is a beauty of reality here, a beauty one discovers when gains sensory consiousness; that one really exists, becasue learns that can still feel pain.  

This performance is dedicated to the four brilliant performers Spela Vodeb, Zoé Alibert, Lander Patrick, and Felipe Salazar. (TS)

 

Concept, direction, choreography . Tomaz Simatovic

Performance and research . Spela Vodeb, Zoé Alibert, Lander Patrick, and Felipe Salazar

Dramaturgy . Claudia Heu

Light design . Peter Thalhammer

Co-production . ARGEkultur, ArtEZ Arnhem, Dance Kiosk Hamburg

Supported by Salzburg Stadt and Land salzburg Kulturfonds, ArtEZ Arnhem, ARGEkultur Salzburg 

Touring supported by The Dutch Embassy