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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Playing with Theater

Photo: Géraldine Aresteanu
by Yoann Bourgeois

Minuit (“Midnight”) is a theater show designed by a circus artist. This is an important
distinction; the show plays with the very notion of theater as a concept and as a
physical space.

The show reinvents itself according to the particularities of each theater, with the stage
stripped down to reveal the technical rigging behind it, as if the stage itself is the set. “Playing with the theater” is therefore true in the most literal sense. The emptiness of the space brings the ensuing acts into sharp relief as objects accumulate and pile atop one another on stage. We are left at the blurred boundary between performance and creation. The stage becomes a climbing frame whose composition is part of the show.

The idea of “playing” bridges the entirety of my work. It’s the starting point for my creative process, finding out how to play together. I use the word “play” in the widest sense possible. I like its mechanical definition in French: the space between two objects that allows them to move.

On a deeper level, the idea of play has led me to explore, construct, and deconstruct the physical forces that act upon us—in particular the concept of “non-action,” a balancing of forces whereby a performer reacts to the forces upon them without initiating movement themselves. There is powerful dynamism in that struggle.

What these ideas have in common is that they render a suspension point perceptible. For a juggler, the suspension point is that brief moment when an object thrown in the air arrives at the summit of its arc before it falls. That’s what I’m looking for: the absolute present of that moment. It’s the ideal place—the peak before the fall, that moment of weightlessness, the moment when everything is possible.

Minuit, part of the Brooklyn-Paris Exchange, plays the BAM Fisher through Saturday, October 8. The show is currently at capacity, but standby tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis before each performance.

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