Does it hurt? Well, good. Confronting one of Lloyd Newson’s shows is like being hammered by reality on stage. It’s called verbatim theatre. On the programme: interviews set to body and movement, and maximum discomfort.
In 1988, for Newson’s maiden American performance, the New York Times headlined: “The Sex Pistols of dance, or just about”. The “just about” is likely due to the Australian roots of the choreographer, who has become a central figure in British contemporary dance. Twenty-five years later, nothing seems to derail Lloyd Newson’s physical and extremely fullon theatre. The starting-point for his latest piece? Fifty men talk about love, sex and their private struggles. Once again, the piece will likely scour eyes and consciences clean. His raw material is interviews. Eighty-five voices were questioned for To Be Straight With You (2007), a sharp-edged show about homophobia in the UK; ditto for Can We Talk About This? (2011), a disturbing statement on Western values put to the test by multiculturalism. This, then, is quasi-documentary work. And when you look closer, the interview is where it all began for the young Australian, who took a degree in psychology and social work before the exercise fused with body and dance for good. A few performing experiences and frustrations later, Newson wanted to cut loose from the period’s formalistic dogmas. The deed was done in 1986 when he set up his company DV8 – as in “deviate”. He would change course and restore meaning to dance. Each of his themes delivered uppercuts: old age, disability, foreigners, homosexuality. Dominators and dominated. And with the issue of masculinity rarely far away. Very quickly, the material of verbatim theatre imposed itself. The power of dance heightened by the power of words, and vice versa – thus immediately placing this exponent of Bausch-esque discomfort astride theatre and dance. On stage: restless movement, archive footage, news videos, personal accounts, and sometimes even diagrams and charts – to be didactic and clear, and thus harder-hitting. Ultimately, there is one constant: the depiction of reality on stage. Politeness will have to wait...
We advise spectators that, for technical reasons, no latecomers will be admitted to the auditorium.
Piece for 10 dancers — 2014 — Run time 1h25
Conception / Mise en scène : Lloyd Newson
Scénographie / Costumes : Anna Fleischle — Lumières : Richard Godin — Conception sonore : Gareth Fry
Accueil : Maison de la Danse, Biennale de la danse
Coproduction National Theatre of Great Britain, Biennale de la danse de Lyon, Théâtre de la Ville et Festival d’Automne - Paris, Dansens Hus - Stockholm, Dansens Hus - Oslo. Avec le soutien de Arts Council England.
Photo © Ben Hoper