Voice of a Spectator

You see a couple of actors/puppet artists, playing a couple of puppets in a sophisticated model/movie set visible to everybody. The couple, dying of boredom in its bourgeois suburban world, eagerly accepts the offer of a journey to the Caribbean, to paradise, only to be met by reality as could be expected.

#paradies#karibik is a small marvel of imagination whose pleasure is doubled by at the same time watching how it is produced.

The performance at home, on the “ship of dreams”, in the harbour and at the resort is filmed by several cameras and presented on a larger screen behind the “shooting location”. The puppets, quite simple made, are projected to the screen as actors, partly interrupted by sequences of movies, partly blended in by movie scenes, so the level of filmed puppets and of movies are mixed: some quite trivial, prosaic and willing situations (in the dancing room of the cruise, for example) are charged with well-known emotional pictures like from the Titanic and it is only these pictures that bestow value to the situations for the figures. The whole night impresses with a very atmospheric, very particular “hybrid” of different levels of materiality, reality, symbolism and fiction.

A very subtle sound system supports all this. Sounds simulate specific rooms and specific situations in different ways or they work as acoustic quotations (of wistfulness). Out of nowhere movie music of big emotions is raised etc. I have rarely observed anything like the way in which this performance is playing with different sources of light (head-on, through cameras within the model of a house (like surveillance cameras) and even a tiny camera that seems to film from the figures’ perspective as well as the extremely subtle sound.

This performance from different perspective is repeated on the specific making-of-level. The couple of actors/figures is often concentrating on playing the figures, sometimes it replaces them when it comes to demonstrate a large shot of their facial expressions, sometimes it is sitting quietly and expectantly, while the figures might look out of the window into the tropical jungle, listening to beautiful opera music. The couple gives each other signals, smile at each other sometimes, sometimes fail each other, sometimes they behave like a commentary to their figures or to what they are doing all together, sometimes like private persons.

To me, this is the most beautiful thing of the whole night, to watch this very charismatic couple (Nicole de Cruppé, Sebastian Becker) as they are shaping their relationship by playing a play about the couple travelling to the Caribbean for … To watch them how they are calmly cooperating on the stage, keeping track of everything, rebuild, creating pictures together, getting lost in details, taking on different roles without getting fixed on them … this is where the different levels of that night are converging in my mind to a very contemporary statement about imagination, love and reality.

What’s more: right from the beginning there is a third person, at first parallel and beyond the filmsetting on stage/of the realm of imagination. It is the Haitian actor Patrick Joseph who declares his scepticism about the figures’ Caribbean dreams from offstage (from the auditorium) and who also offers playing with projections though, by standing up to these projections like a sceptical, critical position at the same time, reciting modern Haitian poems (which do not exactly impress by their “paradisaic simplicity”) and by reflecting about his role as a black actor in Germany and about the recent blackfacing debate.

Finally, he blasts the couple of figures’game of paradise imaginations. While the camera takes over the couple’s sight of the tropical green jungle and while both are asking themselves what kind of animal is causing this loud crackling over there, Patrick Joseph pushes his full-sized face through the green vegetation, looks back at the small figures and asks the actors to end the play, as they had acted nicely so far, but now he wanted to tell them something. All three of them take their jackets and, small-talking, they leave the theatre in the direction of a pub. Leaving the stage Joseph obviously starts to tell a longer story: “Well, my mother was a very proud woman, who …”. Again a wonderful movement to the beginning of a real, tangible encounter, personal exchange and an end to the simple projections.

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(Heike Pelchen, November 4, 2013)