26 01 2007
#1477


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Saw this last night at PEAK in Montclair, NJ... very cool...

Jan Fabre

I AM BLOOD (a medieval fairy tale)

For his new creation for the 'Cour d'Honneur' at the 2001 Festival d'Avignon, Jan Fabre has written a long poem on an essential constituent of the human body: blood. It revolves round the thought that little has changed since the 'dark' Middle Ages. There has been no fundamental evolution, and man, in all his urges and impulses, still displays great aggression - in this respect he is essentially no different from the animals - and also a systematic bloodthirstiness - in which he does differ distinctly from the animals. Underlying this piece is the notion that despite the development of his consciousness, rational and scientific developments and the global village, no new mental or physical image of man has arisen.

The body and expression by and by means of the body are over-evident. The form of this piece is reminiscent of such older forms as mediaeval polyphonic chants and Biblical psalms. They are forms of a ritual nature in which a particular idea is illustrated from several angles.

In the text of Je Suis Sang, the free verses develop like mantras: an idea is started, repeated and slowly expanded. Several voices sketch a particular picture of man in the past (the Middle Ages, for instance), the present and the future. They create time continua. They describe the burden of the body, subject as it is to obsessions, fixations, suffering and diseases.

The body, which is the source of urges and social taboos which are specifically linked with blood: wounds, menstruation, stigmata and 'bloodshed'. In this respect nothing has changed since the Middle Ages. Man is addicted to blood in all senses of the word. The mirror effect of using man-animal-vampire (bloodsucker) as a metaphor is typical of this.
The voices express the wish to become nothing but blood. Blood has a system of its own whereby it constantly cleans itself.

The body, flesh and bones are renounced in a systematic, invocatory manner so as to dissolve into something different, into another type of form that is not weighed down by suffering and taboos, something fluid that permeates matter: a body of the future that consists only of blood. And as one whole, this future image extends further: a gigantic pool of blood, a collectivity that washes over the earth and colours the planet red.

The piece is written partly in Latin in order to make the link with the mediaeval view of man by means of what was then the language of science and power (e.g. the church). The writer has incorporated mystical wisdom into the piece. Among others he consulted Hildegard van Bingen (12th century) who described visions of the body, healing powers, plants and animals (and their intelligence) in different voices (the first and third persons singular and plural). There is the implicit presence of the contrast between guilt-ridden religious thinking on the one hand and a free, independent natural wisdom on the other. In the latter model the mystic (here played by several 'voices') is the one who has gained wisdom by experience and experiment and not from tradition or dogma.

He offers his insights for what they are worth: he does not gather a following nor does he have any disciples. In this respect the location connected with the text is significant: it is the palace of the popes, at the time when Catholicism was exercising brutal power, and the plea in Je Suis Sang is the opposite of this.

The piece expresses the hope that another form of existence will arise. The ironic subtitle ('fairytale') points out its fictional nature, but its composition and invocatory tone indicates that the heart of the argument aims for truth by way of fiction. It is a plea for a new feeling of community, a new morality. A fluid body. As in a time vacuum.

This piece describes, judges and expresses a wish. A proverbial wish: to become blood. Call it a projection of the future. Or is it an evocation, a fiction with some truth, a wishful dream? An invocation? Towards the end of the piece the voice says, 'I free myself'. Beyond good and evil? Beyond time? Invulnerable?

Text, scenography, choreography: Jan Fabre
dramaturgy: Miet Martens
Assistance choreography: Renée Copraij

Actors, dancers, musicians: Linda Adami, Tawny Andersen, Vicente Arlandis, Dimitri Brusselmans, Katrien Bruyneel, Sylvia Camarda, Annabelle Chambon, Cédric Charron, Sebastien Cneude, Anny Czupper, Stijn Dickel, Els Deceukelier, Barbara De Coninck, Olivier Dubois, Ivana Jozic, Marina Kaptijn, Guillaume Marie, Laura Mas Sauri, Dirk Roofthooft, Maria Stamenkovic-Herranz, Geert Vaes, Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, Helmut Van den Meersschaut

translations: Olivier Taymans (French), Luc De Coninck (Latin)

light design: Jan Dekeyser, Jan Fabre
costumes: Daphne Kitschen, Jan Fabre

costume assistant: Ingrid Van Hove, Gaiska Torrealba
technical coordination: Harry Cole
technicians: Jelle Moerman, Gaiska Torrealba
Props: Elsemieke Scholte
Sound: The Image & Sound Factory
assistant dramaturgy: Hendrik Tratsaert
production manager: Hilde Vanhoutte

Music: "Les joyeux bouchers", Boris Vian/Jimmy Walter, copyright Fondation Boris Vian; "Cold Turkey ", John Lennon, copyright 1969 Northern Songs Ltd, produced by John and Yoko; "Son of a preacher man", John Hurley/Ronnie Wilkins, copyright 1968 Phonogram Ltd London, produced by Wexler, Downd and Martin; autres compositions par Dag Taeldeman, Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, Danny Dupont et Sebastien Cneude

with thanks to: Mr. De Coninck, Mr. and Mrs. Michel Espeel.

Production retake 2005 and retake 2007:
Troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Antwerp / Belgium)
production retake 2003:
Troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Antwerp / Belgium), in co-production with: Festival d'Estiu de Barcelona GREC 2003 (Spain), Festival d'Avignon (France), Melbourne Festival (Australia) and deSingel (Antwerp, Belgium)
production creation 2001:
Troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Antwerp / Belgium), in co-production : Festival d'Avignon (France), deSingel (Antwerp) in collaboration with muziektheater Transparant (Antwerp)

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