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claudia bosse / theatercombinat

22.04. - 04.05 2008 phèdre racine/seneca – a radical exposure of french classicism, maison de faubourg, geneva, coproduction with GRÜ/théâtre du grütli (ch)

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racine (1677) in the ring, seneca (50) in space – absolutism and the end of the roman republic. a boxing ring is the venue for the conflicts between state, territory, body, liberty and love. absolute proportion of racine's language versus disproportion of the bodies: all actors – except for one – are over 60 years of age. they act in the nude. histories of life and theatre.

classical french theatre displays absolute monarchy by way of spatialisation, order of the gaze, and most of all by its control of language and speech by the alexandrine. body-language collides with performance of the speech. in this production of "phèdre" the classical unity of time, space and action is used as dispositif of contemporary performance art.

around a boxing ring groups of spectators are assembled observing each other from 3 different perspectives, following the progression of the racinian tragedy. this space is crossed by the actors, choreographed, marked by fragments of seneca´s "phaedra". the physical material ranges from performative presences, bodies deformed by speech, baroque dance with its rigid and androgynous body image to boxing. the bodies tumble into different disciplines and modes of representation, tearing open their skin by speech.

juggling with varying modes of production and spatial regimes opens the space for the spectator to witness the production of speech, relations and body surfaces, at the same time being visible and present with his or her body and habitus.

click here to see photo series. photo: régis golay


concept/space/direction: claudia bosse, phèdre: frédéric leidgens, hippolyte: serge martin, thésée: armand deladoëy, oenone/aricie: véronique alain, théramène/panope/ismène/ quotes of seneca: marie-eve mathey doret, production/ assistance: gaël grivet, dramaturgical research/direction assistance: andreas gölles, lights: jean-michel broillet, martial arts training: daniel chardonnens, dance baroque: dora kiss, boxtraining: virginie van de putte, tango: mariella casabonne-bach, yoga: sandra piretti.

salle du faubourg, geneva, premiere: 22.4.2008,
12 presentations

supported by the city of geneva (département de l’instruction publique), loterie romande, fondation leenaards, fondation ernst göhner and austrian cultural forum.

coproduction GRÜ/théâtre du grütli, association genèveberlin, theatercombinat


what i'm interested in is the alexandrine structure in the times of louis xiv, who forced control over language and culture as a means of national politics and for the expansion of his political concept concerning the creation of a national french identity. (...)
i respected the rules from french classicism like performance regulations. in one act, there's always one person staying in the ring or on stage to link one scene to the next. in the end of the act, the stage remains empty. only language builds the character. without speech, there is no character, only an actor in the room. without language, the performer is in another presence, but he's visible in the room. a theatre of performers who only realize consequences after speaking. performative action following meticulous rules.
seneca is juxtaposed to racine's esthetics and ethics. he describes body images, immoralities, human dismemberments that racine would never have been allowed to describe. seneca as countercultural commentary. politics of 50 ad versus politics 1677. for us, a present room for observation and alienation: an aestheticisation and capture of the subject as bearer of national ideals and contempts.

(claudia bosse)

photos: régis golay

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