about the production
The French choreographer and performer of Croat origin Ivana Müller finds and explores in her works theatrics in different media and social situations – from texts, videos, web and audio projects, to live contact with audience, such as group presentations, dance and theatre performances. She draws inspiration from the works of philosophy and social sciences. Technological innovations and societal changes enable rapid change in communication situations and strategies. Müller tries to rediscover the basic elements of theatre and theatrics, and thus to redefine its core. That seems inevitable against the background of the changes. Her exploits rest on intermediality and crossing limits of individual arts or, more specifically, on the movement on the borders. It is in the extreme situations that she discovers interesting perspectives for her exploits in theatrics and performativity. The project We Are Still Watching also takes us to the border – that between reality and theatre performance, text and stage, viewer and actors, between the fi set script and improvisation, and an opportunity of and realisation of a piece of art. It is precisely in this in-between space where the theatre piece is placed prior to the so called reading rehearsal. The text is distributed among the actors who then work on it for the fi time by reading aloud. The two-dimensional text on the paper thus turns into a polyphonic exchange of responses. The unfamiliar script leads the group of actors to unexpected situations of harmony or conflict. Even though the script sets the structure of a communication situation, it is often disturbed by improvisations – commentaries or discussions of the read or experienced situations. The piece thus fi itself in the aforementioned space.
The uninitiated viewer who is invited to the rehearsal expands the in-between space by an additional dimension, for he is unaware of building the theatrical fiction as the ac- tors do. By his presence the audience accentuates reality in opposition to fiction. Müller uses simple means to transfer the entire agenda to the viewer: she lets them experience the creation more intensely than ever before; experience joy and responsibility brought by the situation. The model situation, however, is interesting not merely at the individual level. In a condensed form the viewer can experience different group processes from decision-making to emotion-sharing. The format of the performance is quite simple and playful: the audience is given the script and reads it following the instructions contained within. The situation in which they find themselves enables them to create a temporary acting community that is working on a comedy from the life of bystanders.
The witty script enables amateurs to excel in their roles. It is not merely about becoming an actor for the moment, or about exploring the life of theatre. At times of mediated communication, it is equally interesting to observe the means of and our ability to communicate, participate and build community. The simple and playful form offers an un- expected theatrical experience and an utterly new insight.
“If there is a political or social message in this piece it is that we all have the voice, the agency to be both a performer and creator in the political and social world. Our destiny and indeed the destiny of the world is in our hands and we are our own agency of change. So the question, are we still watching or are we participating is in fact an extremely important one and this piece asks us to consider participating.”
Andrea Stolowitz, Oregon’s Artwatch
“What excuses do we have to really talk to people we do not already know? The weather, a train delay, intoxication, get- ting lost—situations that necessitate (or permit) for human contact are often out of our control. A lesson in social dynamics, Müller’s We Are Still Watching was a chance to have an extended, somehow honest conversation with people I may never see again.”
Stormy Budwig, Culturebot
“We Are Still Watching succeeds in creating a sense of community and mutual understanding. Its simple structure helps to quickly form a society, one that is united by the fact that none of the participants has any idea what he is doing or where the script will go next. Whether or not participatory theatre will solve the financial crisis in Europe is unclear. However, the work accomplishes what most art sets out to do: changing the audience’s perspective on what it means to be a performer.”
Madeline Molot, Columbia Daily Spectator
concept and text: Ivana Müller in collaboration with Andrea Bozic, David Weber-Krebs a Jonas Rutgeerts
light design & technical direction: Martin Kaffarnik
production: Gerco de Vroeg
management: Chloé Schmidt
Ivana Müller (1972) grew up in Croatia and The Netherlands and later settled in Paris. Choreographer, fine artist and author of texts, she operates in the threshold of different performing genres, from installations, through textual pieces, video lectures, to audio plays and web presentations. She addresses the themes of a body and its expressions, the principles of self-expression, the place for the imaginary and imagination, understanding authorship and viewer-performer relationships. He works have appeared in the programmes of theatres and festivals, such as the DTW New York, the Singapore National Museum, HAU Berlin, Wiener Festwochen. In 2007 she received the Charlotte Koehler Prize by the Prins Bernhard Fund and, for the piece While We Were Holding It Together, the prize by the Impulz Festival and the Goethe Institute. In addition to her artistic endeavour she leads festival, convenes debates and lectures.
She re-thinks the politics of spectacle and spectacular, re-visits the place of imaginary and imagination, questions the notion oft “participation”, investigates the idea of value and its representation, and keeps on getting inspired by the relationship between performer and spectator.
Video of the production: no
Script of the production: SK
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