Photographs by Troubleyn & Jan Fabre
The Bulgarian audience does not meet the art of Jan Fabre, one of the emblematic authors from the afterwar European avant-garde, for the first time. Fabre is an artist who simultaneously works in the fields of visual arts, theatre and dance and was presented in Sofia in 2019. We saw his exhibition ‘Can’t escape art’ at the Sofia Arsenal Museum for Contemporary Art (SAMCA) and later the same year his play The generosity of Dorcas was performed at the International Theatre Festival “Varna Summer”, as part from the initiative WORLD THEATRE IN SOFIA. Fabre is famous for his provocative voice and re-testing the boundaries (in the genres, themes, etc.), by establishing a unique approach to studying the world via art, or rather, by relying on the research methods through the creation of art. This spring of 2022, in the context of a sublime expectation, two of his plays are visiting the Bulgarian stage: The Fluid Force of Love and Resurrexit Cassandra. All this in mind and the tendency of Toplocentrala – Regional Centre for Contemporary Arts, to show regularly (and not in campaigns solely) more and more works by contemporary artists from various locations across the world, we can assume that a more substantial effort has been made from our side towards reaching the European standards of performance.
The two presented plays, in terms of thematic focus, approach and completion, are totally different. The Fluid Force of Love studies the problem about the multiplication of sexual identity and the social responses to the phenomenon, but via the issue about the clichés of identification, media exposition and labeling, which political correctness often imposes. ‘Isn’t it enough that we are all human?’, ask the actors from the stage and there is not reply and no such is sought. The performance actually with its satirical (and emancipating) approach implicitly touches upon a structural problem within the European society, namely, why human sexuality and identity questions, which it stirs, is turned into a theory about power instincts and why there occur attempts to control and often rigid attitudes appear.
The second play, Resurrexit Cassandra is performed by Stella Höttler in French, German and English and is divided into five chapters, each one corresponding to a different colour allegory, emphasized by the costumography. In every single chapter, Cassandra, the prophet, appears with typical funeral mourning. Her resurrection from the earth leads to the ecstasy of existence, through which she traumatically passes without a single moral sign, but she also brings the concern about Mother Earth. The text of Ruggero Cappuccio, which Fabre as a matter of fact uses, exploits the narrative about the eternal return, the circle of human mistakes, which affects not only their own self-destructive existence, leading to the decline of civilization, but also to the disappearance of Life on the planet as a whole. In this apocalyptic atmosphere, Cassandra’s image is transcendental and beyond historicism; she has an omnipresent consciousness which is close to that of gods. There isn’t any hierarchy of beginnings, nor a binary opposition between the good and the evil.
The work of Fabre demonstrates a rare synergy of interestes in various applied art fileds, which seek a contact with the audience via contemporary themes. However, the finding of a unique iconography of the images, which needs to be exported towards the audience, and their goal is more than obvious, a maximum confrontation with the hall attenders.
The Fluid Force of Love
Text, directing and choreography by Jan Fabre, music by Hao Wu, cast: Sylvia Camarda, Annabelle Chambon, Cédric Charron, Conor Doherty, Stella Höttler, Ivana Jozic, Pietro Quadrino, Matteo Sedda and Irene Urciuoli; costume and set by Jan Fabre; dramaturgy and artistic assistant Miet Martens; light design and technique by Wout Janssens; producers: Troubleyn/ Jan Fabre (Belgium), co-producers: Bon Lio National stage, Ansi (France); Charleroi Danse, Wallonia-Brussels choreography centre (Belgium), Sevilla Central Theatre (Spain) and Perpodium (Belgium).
At Toplocentrala, on 15th and 16th April, 2022
Concept and directing: Jan Fabre; text by Ruggero Cappuccio; original music by Arthur Lavandler; flute performers: flutes: Julie Brunet – Jailly, Alice Szymanski; main part: Stella Höttler; male voice: Gustav Koenings; film ‘Shame all over the world’(2018); Jan Fabre/Angelos (Antwerp, Belgium); dramaturgy: Mark Geurden ; light design: Wout Janssens; costumes: Jan Fabre/ Kasia Mielczarek; producers: Troubleyn/ Jan Fabre (Antwerp, Belgium), co-producers: TANDEM SCÈNE NATIONALE (France); Naples Theatre Festival (FONDAZIONE CAMPANIA DEI FESTIVAL – NAPOLI TEATRO FESTIVAL ITALIA, Italy); Tovstonogov Bolshoi Theatre (Russia); Charleroi Danse, Wallonia-Brussels choreography centre (Belgium).
At Toplocentrala, on 17th April, 2022