All images by Dan Ramaën
CONCEPT: CLÈMENT DAZIN
LIGHT DESIGNER: TONY GUÉRIN
SOUND DESIGNER: GRÉGORY ADOIR
SOUND ENGINEER: MATHIEU FERRASSON
CHOREOGRAPHIC ASSISTANT TO DIRECTOR: HERVÉ DIASNAS
COSTUME: FANNY VERAN
FEATURING AND CREATED BY: JONATHAN BOU, MARTIN CERF, CLÉMENT DAZIN, BOGDAN ILLOUZ, MARTIN SCHWIETZKE, THOMAS HOELTZEL, RENAUD ROUÉ
FROM: COMPAGNIE LA MAIN DE L’HOMME - FRANCE
What I Saw
Humanopterè - on the surface- is a piece about seven guys juggling on stage. Unfortunately, beneath that surface, it’s also a piece about seven guys juggling on stage. No doubt full of stupendous feats of juggling and riddled with heart, the seven jugglers - some of whom it seemed had little experience acting in a staged context like this - often felt like they were performing in pieces with radically different performative styles in the same moment. Regularly, the production lunged toward glorious allegories - man as machine; the bestial nature of conformity; echoes of totalitarian productivity, efficiency, and dogmatism; critiques of capitalism; humorous contemplations on the apprentice-master dialectic - but whenever the production was on the verge of becoming profound, they pulled in the reins, and it just became about juggling again, leaving it to persist in its monotony.
The most evocative moment in the production came when a single juggler was alone on stage. Abandoning juggling altogether, he removed his shirt and bent toward the audience, placing his hands on the ground so the audience could see only his back as it covered his lower limbs. In the dimly lit stage, all I could see was his flesh, and the juggler began what I can only call a ‘dance of the shoulder blades.’ By flexing and contorting his back, he conjured images of beasts and demons - almost as if he were painting upon his flesh just by moving his muscles, utterly effacing his own humanity right before my eyes. Then, the production had to sully this image by having the remaining six jugglers enter the stage and do precisely what this performer just did but with less profundity or skill, effectively cheating the previous moment of its appeal.
Humanopterè couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a circus act or a piece of theatre, and that was its downfall. There were moments in its too-long presentation that gestured toward something more narrative and poetic, but the production shied away from allowing those moments to blossom, instead relying on the spectacle of juggling, which was ultimately less than spectacular.