Eleven actors, from Swiss company Theater HORA, take it in turns to walk on stage and stand there for a minute or so. Each then returns to state their names, ages and that they are actors, their words translated by a deadpan interpreter.
Disabled Theater - Tramway, Glasgow
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Then – as instructed by French choreographer Jérôme Bel, who created this piece – they explain their individual learning difficulties, from hydrocephalus to Down’s syndrome. All this takes half an hour: several members of the audience walk out, wondering, perhaps, where the theatre is in all this.
In fact that question is integral to this strange, challenging work which attempts to give its performers a chance to have a creative voice of their own as, after the introductions, each is showcased in a short dance they made up themselves (while the others watch or jig along).
Some are genuinely entertaining, loose explorations of movement. Others are – well, a bit rubbish.
Each performer then gives their own brief take on the piece: some think it’s “super”, while a couple say their families found it disturbing, like a freak show or a circus. One man says, “There’s no story, it doesn’t look like theatre – I don’t get it.” They all have a point.
As an art provocation, this isn’t entirely successful, opening up interesting issues of representation, exploitation, condescension and talent, without developing them. A chance to discuss the points raised feels badly needed and the 90-minute duration feels stretched. But in putting people with learning difficulties front and centre, asking us to consider what they might have to offer as artists, it provokes thought.
Seen on 17/18.10.14