LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES,
Malo pozorište / Little theatre „DUŠKO RADOVIĆ”
Music by Philip Glass
Les Enfants Terribles / Derišta
dance opera based on the work by Jean Cocteau
Adaptation/Adaptacija: Philip Glass, Susan Marshall
Narrator’s text/Tekst naratora: Ana Vujanović
Translation/Korišćen prevod: Bora Glišić
Authors team/Autorski tim:
Bojan Đorđev, Siniša Ilić, Maja Mirković, Jelena Novak, Marta Popivoda, Ana Vujanović
Dragana Bulut, Ana Dubljević, Čarni Đerić, Dušan Murić
Musical direction/Muzičko vođstvo: Srđan Marković
Elisabeth: Branislava Podrumac (Soprano)
Paul: Marko Kalajanović (Baritone)
Gérard: Ljubomir Popović (Tenor)
Agathe/Dargelos: Ana Radovanović (Mezzo soprano)
Jean Cocteau: Miloš Timotijević
Pianists/Pijanisti: Nada Kolundžija, Sonja Lončar i Andrija Pavlović
Dancers/Plesači: Dragana Bulut, Ana Dubljević, Čarni Đerić, Chris-Gerard Heyward, Ivana Koraksić, Dušan Murić, Milica Pisić/ Nevena Jovanović, Miloš Timotijević
Stage movement/Scenski pokret: Čarni Đerić
French language coach/Lektor za francuski jezik: Stefan Mladenović
In coproduction with Jugokoncert and Dom omladine Beograda
Special thanks to: Children’s Cultural Center Belgrade, Lyra Style, Pozorište Boško Buha, Jugoslovensko dramsko pozorište, Muzička škola „Stanković“, Kulturni centar Beograda, Kulturni centar Rakovica, Francuski kulturni centar, Ivan Brusić, Ivana Cmiljanović, Ivana Ilić, Una Mirković, Igor Stepanović
INSCENATION CONCEPT >>>
We are staging the opera Les enfants terribles as a performance of musical theatre which – unlike poststructuralist and postdramatic conception of a performance as a set of ’stage texts’– consists of several artistic fields, disciplines, each with its own history and specific problems. That is why, apart from opera, this performance includes dance, postmodern performance art and video art. In such a configuration, these artistic fields bring different artistic tactics of representation. Representation is essential for the narrative itself – the brats constantly ’represent’ themselves to each other and play social roles, so it is treated both thematically and methodologically in this performance. Decomposition of representation becomes one of the main procedures in directing and dramaturgy of this question-posing performance of musical theatre. Different manners of representation have different political and ideological, and not just esthetic dimensions. The main move is differentiation of representation and performance: the opera remains in the domain of fiction and illusionism, the dance operates with zero degree of representation – ’pedestrian’ execution of tasks, while the performance of the narrator and video art belong to postmodern tactics of theatralization and cultural recycling.
Children (teenagers) in the novel and the opera are not good and sterile children-ornaments, innocent and with no vices, they are, on the contrary, presented stripped of all romanticist notions in relation to the stereotypical (petty bourgeois and puritan) image – as (young) people with various flaws and virtues, vices, passions etc. But their anti-petty bourgeois unconventionality and debauchery are made possible by their social status, so what is the subject of criticism here is in fact their privileged status, not their debauchery. Their social status, i.e. class, is their blind spot for them, like for Cocteau and for Glass. They remain in their small isolated world, while outside important developments are taking place which truly concern us (the authors team and the audience). Their communication in the opera is conducted through the game of domination and submission in a soft, snug and protected space of the room which is self-cleaned and tidied, their movement is superfluous, so most of the scenes they spend lying down or reclining on their pink balloon. We find brats in an EMO sub-culture, the enfants terribles of modern society. They are rebels according to program, but in the form of a specific escapism. Their rebellion does not destroy the world, but withdraws from it, refusing to accept it. However, the problem is that they are a part of that world and like every other subculture they operate in the market both as a product and as consumers.
Dance/choreography in the Les enfants terribles does not extend throughout the performance, but is one of its segments. Its function is to show the constructive character of the opera which is composed and decomposed on stage, on the spot. The voices of the authors of the staging are also mostly represented through the dance as the direct intervention in the tissue of the opera. Four choreographers invite four dancers – couples – and through dancing performance, ’duets’, they reconsider the foundations on which couples are formed. Through behavioral manifestations by which a couple is structured different relations between two people are offered, not based on domination and submission, fetishization, exploitation and manipulation (like in the narrative of the opera), but on the capability to see the other one as the (autonomous, different and asymmetrical) other one, and not as an object of manipulation. In this way, the interest in people and the world around us is recognized, as well as activity in relation to it; understanding oneself along with others / as one’s equal.
Conceptually, dancers have the function of a social mechanism which enables the action of the opera to proceed, they are a fluctuating multitude on the stage and do not participate in the illusion but create, interrupt, challenge, question, or ignore it. This makes it clear that rebellious enfants terribles cannot be that by themselves and outside a certain social context which provides such a lifestyle for them.
Narrator (Jean Cocteau)
Cocteau, the ambivalent avant-garde artist, wrote his novel Les enfants terribles in just three weeks, during his opium abstention crisis. In the novel, there are numerous allusions to addiction and autism caused by opium consumption. In our staging, Gérard is deprived of the role of the narrator in the opera and it is assigned to Cocteau himself – in order to force the writer to face his own work. In majority of his films, Cocteau appears as the narrator, some kind of a nacisoid figure, artist, poet who is important and sanctions with his authority. Such position of Cocteau is radicalized through (critical) (self-)reflection and some sort of Brechtian commentaries of scenes. The narrator in Les enfants terribles is simultaneously a part of the fiction and a part of reflection about it – Cocteau faced with his own characters and ’blind spots’ in their vision.
Together with that of the narrator, the role of the mediator and commentator is assumed by a video which is created in postproduction procedure. It consists of the recycled material from Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Dreamers, the narrative of which is directly inspired by Cocteau’s novel, with the only difference that the film tried to locate the narration in a specific social context of ’Paris 68’. Here the film at times replaces ’one channel’ of opera’s staging – its image or sound or it flows simultaneously. In the scene of a rock which bumps into the protected world of Bertolucci’s dreamers/enfants from the street, pleonasmically, the film bumps in the world of Glass’s Les enfants terribles.
The authors’ team
On the authors’s team (in alphabetical order)
Bojan Đorđev (theatre director), Siniša Ilić (visual artist), Maja Mirković (visual artist), Jelena Novak (art theoretician), Marta Popivoda (video artist and cultural worker), Ana Vujanović (freelance theoretician of performing arts and culture) have been longtime associates on projects of TkH (Teorija koja Hoda /Walking Theory/; www.tkh-generator.net), a platform for performing arts theory and practice, and other artistic projects. They sign this staging of the opera Les enfants terribles as a team of authors. They thus continue with their investigation of the concept and practice of collective authorship and varying procedures in working, this time in an institutional theatre, decentralizing and challenging the strictly hierarchically established functions of authors in the institutions of culture.