WHILE YOU ARE HERELiquid Theatre
Эксперимент / спектакль
Участник программы «Новая пьеса» Фестиваля 2013 года
This is one of five projects by Theatre plus society initiated by Teatr.doc and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation in 2012. The program reflected the European experience, French, in particular, of state promotion of independent groups performing socially beneficial work - in children hospitals, prisons, rehabilitation centres, or with people with disabilities. As it turned out, almost nobody is engaged in doing this work in Russia. There are also just a few independent theatres in this country. So almost all of them took part in the Theatre plus society program, leading to many very different and impressive productions.
Liquid Theatre deals with movement - working with non-traditional spaces in varied and extraordinary ways, looking for a flexible language to express everyday human rituals, such as work. The language used in WHILE YOU ARE HERE was extracted bit by bit in a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. This was not easy for the Liquid group – none of the patients were ready to let them into their painful, private world. None of them wanted to become a character in a play, just like we don’t want anyone to see us when we're sick. It is a paradox, but the characters in WHILE YOU ARE HERE have a strong sense of acceptance, but not in a negative sense. Having travelled a difficult road, the Liquid group members accept everything as it is, without trying to destroy or improve anything. The most important thing granted to the artists by the “social program” was the ability to see the world through other people’s eyes and an understanding what it means "to be here”
Each of the eight people who started working at the performance had his own idea of what and how it was going to develop. Each had very different experiences with alcohol, drug dependent people and, in fact, with addictive substances. However, in June 2012 we crossed the threshold of a drug treatment hospital, without having any clear-cut "program". We spent 4 months there just talking to patients, trying to understand how we could make ourselves useful, and how to
“attach” our feelings, plots and stories to the future performance. The performance title was also found by us there, at the hospital. It was written on the fence of the hospital yard, though it sounded a little longer - "While you're HERE, the world lives without you ..." It seems to me that much of this work is about fear, the fear of realizing that the place where you are at the moment is that very "here", the fear that you will be forgotten. And on the contrary, it is about the need to tell your loved one something like: "While you're here, I can do EVERYTHING!"
The authors of the experiment are extremely delicate - the names of patients are not mentioned, the plot is extremely abstract, revealing only the substance - namely, people are made alcoholics, they are not born this way. Therefore, this process is reversible, although difficult: first one has to learn balancing on the rear legs of a chair (this is the key metaphor of the performance).
The barely perceptible dramatic action, containing a dozen streams of inflamed consciousness, is like a medical report: from the first failures and drinking bouts to turning the person into a faceless creature without a backbone, preserving human form through inertia. All of it is similar to the results of an in-depth psychoanalysis that didn’t miss either children fears with memory fragments, professional deformations or sexual motives of behavior. The underlying causes of alcoholism, the insidious disease that people are fighting against, are embodied in dancing, gesture, sound and video in turn and at the same time.
Perhaps, there are no practical benefits at all for potential or actual alcoholics in this performance (except for those who the actors directly communicated with), but from a purely artistic point of view, the Liquid Theatre group inadvertently invented some new genre, located right between modern dance and artist’s theater. Something that was supposed to happen - did happen: a new task enriched the language.