AND SO ON
AND SO FORTH
Group Project. Produced by Via Negativa
Première 7. 12. 2014, Stara mestna elektrarna Ljubljana
Running time 1 hour and 10 minutes. No interval.
WHAT I SAW
Upon entering the Maribor Puppet Theatre, 6 actors greet us from microphones set up in the back row of audience seating. They tell us to sit, relax, get comfortable. The lights dim and we stare at an empty stage. In English (all of the text is in English), one of the actors, a man, says, “His Majesty the Stage is ready to start his royal breakfast. Which mortal should we place in the centre?” A woman walks down through the seating, walks onto the stage, and lies down.
The other actors, still on the mics behind us, begin to tell stories in relation to the body on stage. That is, the ends of stories. “A woman sleeps in a patch of sun.” “A dead deer lies in the middle of the highway. The end.” All the while a blue band of light makes its way across the stage at different intervals, with different accompanying sounds. The sounds are in the family of beats – heartbeats, footsteps of giants, crashing waves, all felt as much as heard. The band of light (combined with the sounds) begins to feel like a character in and of itself, contributing to the stories told.
More actors enter the stage, lying, sitting, standing. Staying very static. An actor will add him or herself to the tableau onstage, and another will exit soon after, back to the microphones behind us. And the stories continue to be brief ends. There are large swaths of silence and space between tales.
One body remains onstage, lying flat. A British actress takes the stage, and begins to tell a more involved story about this body: a dead body, which horrifies onlookers. But this story doesn’t satisfy her. She tries another. Doesn’t work. All the while she’s getting more and more agitated, though she keeps insisting, “I’m not angry.” She speaks slowly, pausing amply. Another woman speaks from one of the audience microphones, tries a story involving the British woman, calls her traumatized. “What I really am is afraid,” she says, “because I, none of us, have any idea what is happening.”
Eventually, the full cast takes the stage. They begin dragging one another around by the arms or legs. The blue band increases in tempo, the sound in intensity. This goes on for quite some time, until the cast is clearly tired. Then, they grab a wireless microphone from backstage. They begin to tell us what we should be doing. Smiling more. Being nice to our neighbor. Inviting our friends over for dinner, and serving them really good wine (not the cheap stuff). Saying thank you, and please. One of the young men, who doesn’t contribute here, begins to laugh as he continues to get dragged around. His laughter builds. The play ends.
NUTS AND BOLTS
Cast size: 6 (4M, 2F)
Touring Size: Cast of 6, 4 technicians, 1 escort, totaling 11.
Minimum height/width/depth of stage: 20m, 15m, 12m
Maximum height/width/depth of stage: 20m, 15m, 12m
Load in time: 18 hours
Strike time: 5 hours
Cartage Information: This piece has no set. It requires 7 microphones and a projector.
Touring History: MAD HOUSE HELSINKI (work in progress production)
Translation Options: performed in English
Representation: Špela Trošt, Managing Director. Email: email@example.com
The Future: For information on future performances of And So On and So Forth, CLICK HERE TO VISIT VIA NEGATIVA'S WEBSITE
Availability: And So on And So Forth is available for touring at least until winter of 2018.
Director - Bojan Jablanovec
Conceived and devised by the group.
Performers: Grega Zorc, Rok Kravanja (Slovenia), Anna Krzystek (Scotland), Anita Wach (Poland), Magnus Logi Kristinsson (Iceland) and Timo Fredriksson (Finland).
Programming of audio-visual interface: Vasja Progar
Manipulation of audio-visual interface in real time and sound design: Tomaž Grom, assistant: Beno Gec
Light design: Meri Ekola
Stage: Igor Remeta
Theatre: Via Negativa
Via Negativa is a platform for research,development and production of contemporary performing arts. The platform is based on working methods developed by theater director, the founder and Via Negativa artistic director Bojan Jablanovec.
Via Negativa is an open type project. That means we are not bound by the set-ensemble logic of a fixed number of constant members. With each new project, we organize as a group of individuals connected by an interest in research of contemporary performing arts and development of performing strategies.
Our core activities are the production of contemporary performing arts, the organization of workshops based on the VN working method and our education program, which takes place every year in the form of the VN Lab – the Via Negativa laboratory for contemporary performing arts. Via Negativa is based in Ljubljana and operates internationally.
In the first 10 years (2002–2012), we produced 48 projects (12 large format performances, 23 small format performances, and 13 collective presentations). These projects involved more than 80 performers from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Denmark. During this time, we performed more than 200 performances on tours and in festivals in 21 European countries and the USA.
artistic director Bojan Jablanovec
phone: +386 41 389 284
managing director Špela Trošt
phone: +386 51 360 735
WRITINGS AND REVIEWS
REFLECTIONS BY KELLIE
This piece was at turns boring, delightful, sweet, and unsettling. The director and cast allowed the audience to sit in silence while absolutely nothing was happening on stage for an extended period of time, which was challenging for me, and I imagine would be difficult for most American audiences. But there was an interesting thing that started to happen: as the cast made up stories based on the static images onstage, I found myself starting to do the same. The blue band moving across the space was no longer a projection but a giant, the body a cowering peasant. A man sitting near a woman was secretly yearning for her. And so on. This interested me for a time, but not throughout. The piece grew and changed, but always at its own pace, like a tree sloth moving ever upward. I had the sense that if I stuck with it long enough, the various parts would add up to something rewarding and revelatory. But alas, one can only stick with a tree sloth’s journey for so long.
With the exception of the British woman’s rant (which felt like she was trying to perform as herself: too self conscious to actually succeed), performers spoke naturally, simply, with no affect. This was most successful in a section where a man stood center stage, slightly swaying and quietly saying or singing something to himself. Says another actor on microphone, “A penguin on a patch of ice thinks about past days. He remembers a song he liked to dance to.” The man sings the song, badly, off key. He stays small, does little, and charms all.
The program blurb for And So On and So Forth speaks of the stories told in this piece as, “the stories of finality.” It states, “the only thing six performers can do is to remove the corpses and grab for the last traces of meaning.” However, with a few exceptions, the cast does not seem to grab for meaning so much as take casual stabs at it: the performers are calm, detached, in no hurry. There are no stakes here, and so the bodies on stage never really read as corpses. Therefore, the performers’ quest for meaning felt less like a quest and more like an exercise. An interesting exercise, but one that ultimately does not add up to something greater than the sum of its parts.