Direction & concept
Composer & concept
Dramaturgy & choreography
Christine de Smedt
Set, costume & light design
Production in collaboration with
Ictus, Kaaitheater, Ars Musica,
Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek Brussels ,
BUDA Kortrijk, Maerzmusik Berlin (tbc)
Safe is a performance centered around the use of the voice as a tool for communication and as gateway to a mental world beyond speech. It is a monologue that starts within the format of a live concert and then through the use of headphones transforms into an intimate auditory experience.
The first inspiration for this project was the Todd Haynes’ movie Safe (1995). In the movie Julianne Moore portrays Carol, a woman whose allergic reactions keep growing in intensity and duration making a normal life increasingly impossible. The inexplicable disease isolates her more and more and at the end of the movie we see Carol in the middle of the desert in a transparent high-tech igloo that is supposed to keep her protected from all the malignant influences of the external world. At its release the director himself referred to the AIDS epidemic and its political reception of the second half of the 1980ies. We think the movie has onlygained critical importance at the beginning of the 21st century.
Because the causes of Carol’s symptoms are never revealed it remains unclear if she is suffering from a concrete physical ailment which the physicians are unable toidentify or if her disease is totally psychosomatically induced. What we see is a body that loses more and more its autonomy and is manipulated by scientists, healers and shamans alike without it ever disclosing its mystery. In a control society where divergent behavior is more and more sanctioned and the desire of the total masteryof life is believed to be a possibility, Carol becomes an obstruction, a complication.
As an audience we are torn between considering her as the absolute victim (of an ecological crisis; within the grips of objectifying science or in the claws of twisted pseudo medical charlatans) or as a sophisticated manipulator who is craving for attention and refuses the world because she can.
The performance doesn’t want to be a literal transposition of the film or its script to the stage, but wants to put the mystery of the mute sick body in the center of the stage. The voice that comes out of this body alternates between echoing what is being said about its state of sickness by the world and producing sounds that refuse the conformity of language.
The performance is a hybrid experiment between performance and music theatre. The main focus will be the notion of 'hypersensitivity'. We are searching for the causes and symptoms of our times: depression, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder, borderline syndrome, burnout, 21-century disease. Is it possible that our daily life inside the digital panoptikum (Byung-Chul Han) is marked by a craze for communication and consuming, self-optimizing, self-display, transparency that is leading into an abyss and possibly into a global mental collapse? How do we become hostages of our environment, like Carol White’s of today, test rabbits of sophisticated hidden power techniques?