Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Second Manifesto

n. pl. man·i·fes·toes or man·i·fes·tos

A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions, especially of a political nature.
[Italian, from Latin manifestus, clear, evident;]

The most significant reason to base the installation / device, that i am developing right now at the Centro Multimedia, on „The Conquest of Mexico“ (and not on any other text from Artauds Mexico-Volume as f.e. „The Mountains of Signs“) was for me certainly its manifesto-character. I liked the idea to work with a text, that functions as a proposal, as a truly political declaration, as a effusive manifestation of a “clear state of mind”, and I still think there is no better way to deal with it than on a small scale, since models are on the one hand much more handy to outline and explain specific ideas than simple words, and on the other hand they always stay in their unrealized status of a proposal / manifesto, since they aim on having an impact on reality, but still wait for their actualization in "real life" or, as in this case, on a "real stage".

“The Conquest of Mexico” is first announced (and further specified) by Artaud in the second half of his second manifesto on “The Theatre of Cruelty”:

The first spectacle of the Theater of Cruelty will be entitled:

Within this manifesto Artaud describes initially content and form of “The Theatre of Cruelty” in general,

Besides this need for the theater to steep itself in the springs of an eternally passionate and sensuous poetry available to even the most backward and inattentive portions of the public, a poetry realized by a return to the primitive Myths, we shall require of the mise en scene and not of the text the task of materializing these old conflicts and above all of giving them immediacy; i.e., these themes will be borne directly into the theater and materialized in movements, expressions, and gestures before trickling away in words.

before he further explains the “moral grounds and the immediacy of interest of such a spectacle” and “the value as spectacle of the conflicts it will set upon the stage” in specific regard to “The Conquest of Mexico”.
These notes about the actuality and relevance of the staging of “The Conquest of Mexico” will establish the core of the introduction of “The An-archic Device”. They will be spoken in a Spanish translation by an actor, who I met earlier this week in a restaurant in the neighborhood of my apartment, after a series of lucky coincidences. As he was sitting on the table next to me, and as he was in discussion with some friends, I noticed first the sound of his voice, which seemed to have exactly the qualities that I was looking for: On the one hand very controlled and kind of straightline, it left on the other hand space for subtle modifications and break-outs without leaving its overall balance. So I was asking him, if I could do some voice recordings with him, and told him a little bit about my project, and he agreed. Since I was later told by a friend, that he is actually one of Mexicos busiest actors, Daniel Giménez Cacho, who even worked with Pedro Almodóvar in “La Mala Educación” before, I really hope that he will find some free time and that this collaboration will happen someday during the next two weeks, but I am quite confident, since during our nice talk it not only turned out that he had a book with poems by Paul Valery in his bag, but that he also had already a good knowledge of Artauds “Theater of Cruelty”, and he talked very passionate about it. He also pointed me to one very unpretentious performance he had seen once during a theatre festival, where one actor was carrying kind of a mobile enclosed cave- / theatre architecture with his body and asked the spectators in particular, to immerse into his construction, where they were given a short private performance.
Anyhow, his voice will mark the beginning of the installation, and it will be accompanied by a short video-performance, that I will record with another performer in the area of the ruins of the “Templo Mayor” in the historical center of the city (based on Artauds description of the Tutuguri-Ritus).
The video can be seen on the screen of the installation, that at the beginning works like a normal screen without transparency. Therefore, this first part of the installation works like a prologue in the theatre, when the curtain is still closed.

During the last week I also frequented quite regularly the robotics department of the Centro Multimedia, and made some progress with the mechanical design of the installation. I am happy, that there will not only be a real lighting rig with “small moving spots” (based on a construction with cheap motors and small leds) on the top of the miniature stage, but that there will also be a huge wheel construction, which allows the use of four different 3-dimensional picture stages behind the then transparent made screen, each one corresponding to one of the four acts, that Artaud is outlining, when he in a addendum to “The Conquest of Mexico” further describes “the structure of the spectacle according to the order in which it will unfold”. These four pages with more or less concrete images and scores regarding the dramaturgy of the play, have not been included in the French Edition of Le Theatre et son Double (as a part of the second manifesto), but have first been published two years after his death in 1950. Also manifesto-like in form and content, they will be the matrix for the miniature staging of the play, that follows up the introductory prologue.

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