El Conde de Torrefiel:
pantomime and histrionics
La posibilidad que desaparece frente al paisaje explores contemporary Europe in a visit of ten cities
By Luc Archambault
An empty stage. A woman appears, her back to the crowd and introduces the play. And here, ‘play’ takes on its full ludic character. Four actors step up onstage and they will ‘play’ on the themes of ten European cities – Madrid, Berlin, Marseille, Lisbon, Kiev, Brussels, Thessaloniki, Warsaw, Lanzarote and Florence – offering details about these destinations by way of information disclosed on a giant screen. For these four actors will remain silent throughout the performance, and only the female voice will sound, out of scene. And she will reveal only piecemeal information, the giant screen making up for the rest.
El Conde de Torrefiel (Tanya Beyeler and Pablo Gisbert) question European identity (or identities) through an almost pantomimic quest. They do not pretend to propose any answers to this line of questioning. They are neither moralists nor militants. They incarnate the post-modern deconstructive view of a continent ravaged by wars, by economic inequality, by the boredom of daily routines.
Four actors step up onstage and they will ‘play’ on the themes of ten European cities…
They attempt to infuse each tableau with layers of meaning, disparate and almost dysfunctional, but in a highly creative way. They like to evoke concentration camps, located in idyllic sceneries, largely forgotten, as though nothing ever happened there. They force the public, through their conceptions, to cross the boundary between the abject past and the idealized present, bringing about the coexistence of these two possible landscapes.
One of the scriptural devices they use is name-dropping. They will cite European intellectuals, like Michel Houellebecq, Paul B. Preciado, Spencer Tunick, Zygmunt Bauman, but not in a real manner; they have invented all the quotations cited during this show. Now this is a highly creative and current approach, no? Have they inspired the orange-haired president down south?
In the case of Houellebecq, they acknowledge his seminal novel, La carte et le territoire, in which he explores the absence of a direct causality between any geographical representation and the true lives of its inhabitants; where images gleaned through superficial surveys do not correspond to the reality of the world, where images are mostly false, even misleading.But their true originality lies in the invention of all quotations. This creative design permits them to manipulate the information given, to play with these cultural icons, to bring to life new relationships between these pagan neo-gods and the modern public, never really knowing the pertinence of any source – a veiled reference to ‘fake news’ and the internet’s lack of true referrals?
For those who like to think in a political way, this was THE show for you.
La posibilidad que desaparece frente al paisaje ran as part of the Festival TransAmériques June 5 and 6 at Place des Arts.
Images: Festival TransAmériques
Read also Wycinka Holzfällen or Woodcutters
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.