A concept of theatre …………………………………………………………….. 4
Introduction to Belonging to no one ………………………………………….. 6
Fields of inquiry and artistic research ………………………………………….. 7
Analysis of the construction of the piece by a use of references …………… 8
1. Voice and text ……………………………………………………….. 8
2. Chosen Texts: in the order which they appear …………………….. 9
3. From the poetic text to the poetic action. The poetic fact ………… 16
4. From a collective memory to a collective figure ………………….. 17
5. Breaking the rules ……………………………………………………. 20
6. In the dramaturgic process during the construction of the piece … 22
7. Circus technique used as an element in a theatrical composition .. 29
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………. 34
Mind map ………………………………………………………………………….. 38
Acknowledgments ……………………………………………….……………….. 39
A concept of theatre.
Nowadays, to say that you are doing theatre, doesn't really say much about what you actually
do; perhaps, owed to the fact that the so-called borders between the performing arts have,
with time, allowed for ever more and more influence one to another. Thus, before daring to
attempt a description of a specific work, I see that it is important, first, to give an introduction
into precisely what kind of theatre I am delving in to.
In my conception of theatre, I am interested in a mixture of diverse modes of performative
arts, such as: various types of dance, circus techniques, music with conventional and
unconventional musical instruments -- in addition to highly physical activities such as the
street sports of parkour or of skateboarding. This approach to the theatre mostly finds its
vocal expression by the playing of non traditional texts, which might be, for example, a
collage of texts found as an inspiration, or perhaps a myriad of other elements where it is
possible to find the topic in which I might begin working. Truly, it is a sort of a mish-mash
where the various elements are organized to vibrate in a sort of a polyphonic melody:
composing that same universe to be shared in a theatrical yet not entirely unconventional
way. I do not necessarily create the stories myself, but rather simply mark the sensation of
them as they pass through, allowing me to fulfill the desire to share the emotional experience
with the spectator. It is a spectacle which, more than to be understood, wants to be felt. It is
not for the intellect; but for the senses.
Introduction to Belonging to no one.
When I started to build this piece, I had already begun with a clear idea about the topic: The
war. A war from my very own point of view - as a Colombian. A war which has already lasted
for more than half of century. Perhaps this topic might become at once more concrete if I say
that, the starting point or the inspiration to create the piece on such a theme, was a collection
of poems written by the Colombian writer Horacio Benavides . A Collection of Poems which,1
since the first moment I experienced them, I felt to be shifting my roots.
Within these poems, most of the people who appear in them are already dead, yet somehow
still between this and the other world. They belong entirely to the past, as dead people do,
but they are present while being part of the memories of those who are still alive. There is a
feeling of confusion. They are dead, yet hell is still alive in the real present, so the situations
seem to flow continuously in a never ending circle.
Beginning with this idea in my mind, I tried out some of the different ways with which to
find the language to express it, and in each chance I took, I had to share with my classmates.
This is the way that I came to discover the universe to which my performance belongs. Even
with quite a blurred sensation in the beginning, I continued onward, simply trusting this
instinct which had led me, as it always has, which brought me to the place where I became
absolutely certain: I wanted to combine circus elements, with dance and theatre, in a physical
performance. I wished to create a performance made in a poetic way, where the situations
don’t necessarily display a clear dramaturgical line for the spectator, but seeked to propose
rather, an active participation into a sort of oneiric trip. Even looking at a rather far-reaching
possibility such as this one, I didn’t rush to throw away any idea before it had been tried out.
"It is a fundamental rule that until the last moment everything is in preparation, so that one can
continue taking risks, knowing that no decision is irrevocable."2
The Colombian war is an old war, made today mostly of memories merely, yet even as a
memory, I wanted to dive in to uncover the theatrical transposition of this demonstration of
BENAVIDES, Horacio was born in Bolívar, Cauca, in 1949. He studied painting at the Departmental Institute of Fine Arts in Cali. He has been professor and coordinator of literature1
workshops. At the moment he directs the Literature Workshop with children in the program Viento Sur, coedita the magazine of Poetry Deriva and coordinates the Route of the
Literature, a project of Literature workshops of the Cultural Management and the Secretary of Education of the Valley. He has published, among others, the books of poems: Origenes,
1979; Las cosas perdidas, 1986; Agua de la orilla, 1989; Somnbra de agua (1994) y Sin razón florecer, (2002).
BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino, ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005, p. 19.2
Fields of inquiry and artistic research.
Using as a springboard from which to begin my exploration the performative arts of Physical
Theatre, Dance and Circus, quickly led the process into the following lines of artistic inquiry
about the work:
- How does one use the circus skills within the context of a theatrical performance?
- How might one properly deploy circus techniques as an element of a theatrical
language given a context of violence?
- How does violence effect the human body; and how might this effect be transmitted
appropriately by the use of circus technique?
As can be seen, these questions are more focused on finding an answer to the problem of
involving circus techniques in a theatrical performance, and how circus technique is taken as
a sign of an action farther away, than just to show the great capacity of the performer. But,
further still, why exactly has it been taken from the field of the circus and not from the field
of, say, dance for example? Simply: because it has been seen from the occidental perspective,
a place from which the borders between dance and theatre nowadays are so significantly
reduced, even while the borders between circus and theatre remain quite blurred. Even if it is
true that we witness an influx of new companies and artists who are daring ever more to
cross these stubborn borders - there is sadly not much documentation about it. At least, not an
amount of documentation I would find sufficient to praise and expand such a potent frontier.
Thus, this document will not, naturally, pretend to be a model that must be followed. Rather,
it is simply an attempt at a description of my own creative process; an explanation that I hope
the reader could truly get, and arrive at perhaps, at least, an idea of my own way, and how I
bravely approached the divides, and attempted to cross those borders.
An analysis of the construction of the piece by use of references
Here, I will attempt to explain my approach in working on Belonging to No One, strictly in
itself, of itself, and give a few examples supported by some known references.
1. Voice and Text
Being as it was, that I was to be so strongly inspired by a collection of poems, I would now
like to explain how I combined my practical work with the text. I have been much attracted
by work with the voice in general. Let us say: it has been an elastic work with the text, as
opposed to an intellectual one. Even so, we cannot avoid the fact: that if one deploys words
and not sounds merely, the mind of the spectator is instantly swept up into a peerless pool,
full of concepts, and will try to understand what the text means - that is to say: towards what
does it aim - rather than simply reaching for connection with what he sees. In like manner, I,
right from the very first instance, took the text as stimulus for the Creation, accepting what
those poems had already given me: materials of poetic images. In accordance with what
Grotowski and Kantor have likewise suggested, I didn’t deny the possibility of starting with a
text - and I saw that the staging thereof, cannot be limited to being simply an illustration of
the text. Therefore, the chosen texts are not a drama created prior to the Creation of the show.
There was of course, as ever, yet the possibility that the texts would be used, or not;
depending upon the needs of the show. They are fragmentary materials, primary in a sort,
offering themselves as the ample objects necessary for the construction of the show. Seeing
this, the poems I used, I analyzed, I translated, cut, reworked and recomposed them to be
used as supporting structures employed as living elements in the dynamic unfoldment of the
piece. I was in fact, searching for a way to engage playfully with their phonetic contents and
syntactic structures, in a kind of harmonious dialog amongst the physical, dramaturgical,
visual or otherwise more conceptual ideas. Despite the fact that these poems were taken as a
strong inspiration for the Creative development, they are in no way, and this should be made
clear, the sole focus of the piece as a whole, and they should not detract the attention of the
viewer from the larger piece into which they have been so eloquently deployed. In that way,
they find their proportionate place. Beginning the Creation Process, I sorted through the vast
yet settled sea of self-selected poems, songs and texts, and little by little they were chosen in
accordance with their functionality as fit member of the grander piece, and a natural selection
of the Creative Process.
2. Chosen Texts in the order in which they appear:
1st Text: My relationship to the songs, might, perhaps, be adequately hinted at by the words
of Federico G. Lorca: “Is sung in the most dramatic moments, and never again to have fun, [...] but
to fly, to escape, to suffer, to bring to the everyday a supreme aesthetic atmosphere” . The following3
text is a popular children song tucked into pockets of the Spanish language:
El Puente está quebrado.
Con que lo curaremos,
Con cáscara de huevo.
Burritos al potrero.
Que pase el rey
Que ha de pasar.
Que el hijo del conde.
Se ha de quedar!
LORCA, Garcia, Obras completas, Arquitectura del cante jondo, ed. Aguilar, Madrid, p. 222.3
2nd Text: Poem written by Horacio Benavides. Left side Original. Right side, adapted
3rd Text: It is originally a song in rhythm of Tinku, from our South American Indian culture.
The lyric is in Spanish and Quechua languages.
NO teníamos agua
Y mi padre
Hizo construir un aljibe
Nos gustaba mirar
O tirábamos guijarros
Y oíamos su sonido
Profundo y musical
En las noches no nos asomábamos
Nos habían dicho que veríamos
La cara del diablo
La noche que lo hicimos
En el cielo negro
We didn't have water
And my father decided
To build a cistern
We liked to look
Into the darkness
Or throw pebbles
And we would listen
A profound musical sound.
In the night we don’t look
They had told us that we would see
The face of the devil.
The night when we did it
We saw down
In the black sky
Véndeme Chicha. (Bis)
Si no tienes Chichita
Cualquiera cosita (Bis)
Y una palomita.
4th Text: I only used the first two lines of the following poem for my show. And later,
added the name of the zones with the highest level of conflict in Colombia.
Straightaway then, I would now like to present the entire poem. Written by Horacio
Benavides. Left side original. Right side adapted translation.
SALÍ del Tolima con lo que tenía puesto
Huyendo de los “pájaros”
Pegué para el sur del Cauca
Donde la guerra aún no llegaba
En Bolivar me dijeron
Vaya donde Rodolfo Benavides
Él lo acogerá mientras su tierra se calma
Y aquí voy subiendo la montaña
Buscando la casa amarilla
Su Jardín de geranios
Y la casa por ninguna parte
Cuando me detengo a preguntar
Los nativos callan y huyen
Como si vieran llegar a un muerto.
I left from Tolima with what I was wearing
running away from the “Birds”
I went to south of Cauca
Where the war had not yet arrived
In Bolivar they told me
Go to Rodolfo Benavides,
He will welcome you while your land calms
And now I go up the mountain
To look for the yellow house
Its garden of geraniums
And the house is nowhere
When I stop to ask
The natives go silent and run away
As if seeing the arrival of a dead man.
5th Text: Poem written by Horacio Benavides. Left side original. Right side adapted
NOS RECOGIERON en la plaza
Nos apretujaron en camiones,
Las bocas de los fusiles sobre nuestras cabezas
Pensé que sería un error
Y que volvería a abrazarte
Un escalofrío me subía por la espalda
Y se me encalambraba en el cuello
Pasamos por estaciones de policía
Pasamos por retenes
Pero nadie nos oyó
El terror hacía imposible todo consuelo
Me encomendé al milagroso
Recé lo que recordaba
Se me heló la sangre al imaginar
lo que vendría
Lo que vino no te lo puedo contar, madre.
They picked us up in the piazza
They crushed us into the trucks,
The rifle mouths on our heads
I though it should be a mistake
And that I would hug you again
A shiver was going up my back
And it seized in my neck
We passed by police stations
We passed by road blocks
And cried for help
But nobody heard us
The terror was impossible
I commended myself to the Miraculous
I prayed what I remembered
My blood froze when I imagined what
What came next, mother, I cannot tell you.
6th Text: Poem written by Horacio Benavides. Left side original. Right side adapted
TE LLAMARÁS Pedro en adelante
Te llamarás agua, mata de perejil
Jaguar, pescado, escarabajo,
Tórtola que pasa volando
Los afanes tendrán por fin su lecho
El dolor será un bálsamo
En la herida de nadie
Te llamarás piedra en adelante
Piedra sin nombre
En el olvido de las estrellas.
You'll be called Peter now
You'll be called water, parsley plant
Jaguar, fish, beetle
Turtledove who passes flying
The efforts will have at last their bed
The pain will be a balsam
In the injury of no one
You'll be called stone now
Stone without name
In the forgetting of stars.
7th Text: I was working with the next text quite a long time during the process of the creation
of the show. Then I realized that the part itself was even stronger without this text but I just
kept the sensation of it. The text became a subtext. Poem Written by Horacio Benavides. Right
side up, original. Right side down adapted translation.
SE QUEDÓ quieto el niño
Cuando vio a sus tíos y a sus primos
Regados por el suelo,
Se quedó congelado Jair
Ve niño, levántate
Que eres un hombrecito,
Pero no había razón que lo levantara
Ándale que cogemos camino
Y no te vamos a llevar cargado
Alma de Dios levántate
Que ya vuelven los que nos mataron.
The child remained immobile
When he saw his aunts, uncles and cousins
Thrown on the floor,
Jair remained aghast
Hey boy get up
You are a man,
We were encouraging him,
But there wasn’t a reason to make him get
Come on we’re going
And we won't carry you
Son of God get up
Those who killed us are coming back.
8th Text: The next and final text is inspired from some fragments of two or three poems
written by Horacio Benavides. From the collection of poems Conversacion a oscuras, but I
recomposed them for the ending of the performance. Left side version in Spanish. Right side
adapted translation in English.
EL ARROYO corre y se apresura
Sabe que más abajo tocará nuestros cuerpos
Saltará sobre ellos
Acariciará sus ombligos y sus sexos
Y querrá quedarse
Pero su destino es correr
Más abajo se volverá quebrada
Y correrá con más prisa entre las piedras
Se volverá río luego,
Y más abajo bajará lento
Llegará al mar y nos lavará la pena.
The stream runs and rushes
It knows that further down it will touch our bodies
Will jump above them
Will kiss their belly bottoms and their nether regions
And it would want to stay
But its destiny is to run
Further down it will become a creak
And will run faster through the stones
Will become a river then
And further down it will slow.
It will reach the sea and will rid us of the pain.
3. From the poetic text to the poetic action.
The poetic fact.
These Poems - being as they were such a strong starting point for my creative process - thrust
me closer towards the idea of the sort of poetry that I wanted to work on. Namely, poetry that
is not simply written, stationary, stuck to the sheet or the page, but rather a sort of a living
poetry - a poetry beheld, a poetry that would be peered at perhaps from the perspective of
physical movements, in a space, in a time, within the parentheses of performance - by virtue
of which, I hoped I might create another reality, with rules entirely and uniquely its own, sent
forth into this world by the Spirit of True Poetry: A Poetic Fact made manifest by an
unconfined Poetic Action.
And Hence, it would be imprudent, according to Lorca, to endeavor to copy Nature or try to
somehow reproduce it. In the end, something would be left out, and the poem or the thing
being represented, would thus be miswritten. "What is the use of having the representation of an
object when it already exists?” he comments. Thus, what it became important for me to4
accomplish, was not to represent the poems as they are, a mirrored sort of reflection; nor to
represent the quotidianity of the war in Colombia, but, then to create a new world, entire of
itself, built by an active Imagination, in which I could articulate my blurry sentiments of this
war, as memory, now translated as Physical Poem. I was, as many young artists, searching to
find the place where my artistic processes might be recognized and appreciated as things that
are to be felt, physically, rather than to be understood, intellectually. Be that as it may, there is
quite good reason for it.
On the one hand, it can be observed that there are many moments in this ring of illusions
which our life is, in which we as humans suddenly get the feeling that we don’t actually truly
know why it is that we do what we do, or why others do what they do. What is First Cause?
Some invisible Genius? This sort of questioning reminds me well of the great Jean-Francois
Lyotard who said: “We do things which we don’t know what they are. This is the only interesting
thing, the rest is parasitic.” In an acknowledgement of the knowledge of the fundamentally5
unknown nature of the Universe, I can see the raison d'être of my scenic creations. In written
poetry, where, let us say: ‘the dialogue’, with the reader is created by a sort of confrontation
with words which are perhaps not meant to be and therefore incapable of being understood
in merely intellectual terms - because, truly, the Poetic Spirit strives ever and anon to speak
the unspeakable, and so the discourse is ceaselessly creating images which bring clarity of
sensation and insight, much more than just some intellectual afterthought. It is not a concept.
It is an experience that is shared, and finds its success through its immediacy and candour.
Similarly, what I wish to communicate is not, in my view, entirely reachable through
naturalistic actions nor traditional staging, and therefore it is necessary to create it as Poetry
LORCA, García, Obras completas, Imaginación, inspiración, evación, ed. Aguilar, Madrid, p. 263.4
LYOTARD, Jean-Francois, La posmodernidad (explicada a los niños), ed. Gedisa, p. 25.5
creates. The physical Poet then, or perhaps better said as: Poetry beheld as Action, becomes
the living space in which the unfolding scene is revealed to the sender and receiver. Indeed,
highly important it is then, to me, to communicate the sometimes dizzying feelings of human
contradictions and confusions. Let us uncover All together, in a space and time where we
know neither why what happens to us happens, nor whence the happenstance silently
surrounds others. Here I will refer to José A. Sanchez:
“The drama appears from the conflict between the human and the unhuman. The unhuman is what the
human can’t understand. It’s the creation which is manifesting itself as a chaos. The unhuman isn’t the
inorganic, but the opposite: what the human can’t understand of himself.”6
In the midst of this foreground, stand the pillars of Belonging to No One. In the very center of
our human confusions, lies the figure of our collective memory: ready to live itself as physical
Poetry, or an active Imagination.
4. From a collective memory to a collective figure.
The desires and forecasts of an Artists’ productions are one thing, but when the creative
process starts, little by little, it reveals its own demands, and plans are adjusted. Thus, in
order to remain most productive during the creative process, the artist must open all his
senses, and keep them open, because he is there to serve his Creation and must maintain the
role of an active listener of his Work, which most assuredly sculpts its own identity into the
stream of time. It is much like a little fetus, which one ought feed with what it needs to
achieve full growth. In just the same way, at every step along the road, Belonging to No One
invited me to develop the raw fragmentary structure by means of a streaming in from a
myriad of sources: the choosing of the texts, the content of the individual texts, and the many
stories behind them, all supported by the ideas and complexities aroused by a recollection of
the Colombian war. With all of this as foundation, I arrived to the conclusion that, in the
specific context in which my piece has been built up, I was in danger of minimalizing the
essence of the piece, should I happen to chose to tell the story through the eyes of just one
single character, instead of composing it of a variety of thoughts, themes and impersonal
images, made with reference to the memories that have been stored of the Colombian war.
In the piece, the spectators might create in their fantasy, some falsity of the fixedness of the
featured figure. But, I wish to make clear, that this featured figure is not at all a person - a
mask. This figure, as I see it and would like to have it seen, is Colombia herself, seen as a
shadow of her people's stories of the war. It is Colombia, as a collective, that lives out these
multiple situations as an incarnated karma in multiple flesh, and who wishes to become
embodied within the body of a single performer.
SANCHEZ, Jose A., Dramaturgias de la imagen, ed. Universidad de Castilla-la mancha, p. 105.6
This ray of relation of Colombia as a Collective Figure came when I remembered the work
Fuente Ovejuna of Lope de Vega. In Fuente Ovejuna, though there is a focus upon a whole host
of different characters, any one of them being easily able to be developed into the main
character, it is nonetheless more interesting and more relevant to note the way in which the
entire population as a whole was drawn as a sort of Collective Character. Then, we see quite7
clearly the fact that it is not so important or it does not represent much, what any one of these
characters as singular individuals do, but what they do together as community. Communal
action is always more interesting, and more satisfying. But I digress, and I will spare you here
from an excessively deep analysis of Lope de Vega’s play, but I do intend to take you yet a
step further in seeing precisely what it is that I mean. Belonging to No One does not develop
characters nor types, but I would say instead, various figures in blurred outline of those
people who died, already, or are sadly even still sucked up into a present context of war.
Consequently, the conjunction of these figures becomes actualized as this Collective
Character. In our case, a Collective Figure.
Afterwards, in some way, for the spectator's imaginary, this war could have been a war which
happens in a different place of the world. May not be Colombia. It could be another country.
All the wars are themselves atrocious. Even if there are some cultural elements which
identify it as Colombia, to play with figures gives a sensation of not typical or stereotypical
Colombian people who have passed by these different situations. I would refer to Lyotard
with his written about the postmodern, when he says: “The literary institution [...] has been by
the way subversive, to the extent that the hero is not a character but the inner consciousness of time.”8
In this case, I would say Colombia has developed an inner consciousness which comes with
so many years in a situation of war. A consciousness to take care, to be aware and to react
quickly in difficult situations. A consciousness in which there is still a hope of peace.
MURILLO, C. Jesus, En torno a Fuente Ovejuna y su personaje colectivo, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. 2010. http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/en-torno-a-7
LYOTARD, Jean-Francois, La posmodernidad (explicada a los niños), ed. Gedisa, p. 25.8
5. Breaking the rules
Principally, in commencement of the work, it is important here to state that:
“The artist and the writer work without rules and to establish the rules of what will have been done”9
The guiding principles in the creative development of Belonging to No One were not derived
nor governed by existing rules or limitations imposed by assumptions of authority, but rather
the principles were unveiled by the intrinsic dynamic of the piece as it found its blossoming
in the operative process. Thus, we can pass from Lyotard to Hugo, who said: “The art has, as
the infinity, a reason superior to all the reasons.” Then, it must be as well that in the performing10
arts, as in the poetry, we do not run into some set of unbreakable rules, written in
adamantine, unable to be redefined in the process. But, just as are all rules, as we see them in
accordance with the human condition, flexible, provisional, able to be played with and
expounded upon exponentially; and there are indeed not more limits to Creation than are our
objectives as Artists. Even so, I keep in good and plain dealing with the objective of the
theatre declared by Richard Foreman. “(…) the objective of the theatre is still the representation of
the human. But the human live should be represented with all its complexity and is precisely the
representation of this complexity which invalid the resources of the conventional narrative schemes.”11
That reamained to be my sentiment as well during the working out of the piece with themes
of kidnapping, forced displacement, and death, and the conflicts surrounding it, with bodies
that are ripped away from the home to which they belong: the captive bodies, the mutilated
bodies, and the cries of their frustrated dreams. Maybe, it is in response to the piercing nature
of such high tragedy as this, that I find how the idea fits so well for me, to employ the light-
heartedness of circus techniques, worked into and enriched by contemporary dance, and
infused with theatre, in my piece. With so rich a dramaturgical support, Belonging to No One
deploys these techniques as an effort to effectively approach a constructive discourse on hard
topics; and not in an illustrative way, but in a poetic one. Of course I mean namely, by the use
of not so everyday movements.
Here, what happens is pure bodily suggestion, with which the public would have to complete
the narrative because the elements and the actions might very well take on a different
meaning altogether, even in the same context, if seen as symbols and metaphors, and further
how even each of the tiny parts are connected one to another, and to the piece as a whole.
LYOTARD, Jean-Francois, La posmodernidad (explicada a los niños), ed. Gedisa, p. 25.9
SANCHEZ, Jose A., Dramaturgias de la imagen, ed. Universidad de Castilla-la mancha, p. 20.10
SANCHEZ, Jose A., Dramaturgias de la imagen, ed. Universidad de Castilla-la mancha, P. 117.11
Reflecting Meyerhold: this is an unfinished spectacle. In like manner as he, I wished to
create:"(…) a frame or skeleton which the spectator would fulfill of content."12
Endeavouring humbly to explain my idea better, without any hint of pretension, I feel much
identified in this piece with the James Thiérree’s way of working: “I'm always on the balance –
he says in a review for the newspapers “The Guardian”- being one inch away from telling the
story that I have in mind, but keeping that story in my fist. (…) -And he then continues- I was
trying to make this mille-feuille that would give possibilities of different readings. Being more precise,
in telling the story would take away something. I like to have an x-ray of a story. A feeling of a story.
It's like the smoke after a fire – that's the story.”13
SANCHEZ, Jose A., Dramaturgias de la imagen, ed. Universidad de Castilla-la mancha, P. 54.12
Rewiev with Wiegand, Chris, Published on 24 March 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/mar/24/james-thierree-chaplin-tabac-rouge-clown-sadlers-wells,13
6. In the dramaturgic process during the construction of the piece
“A bare space tells no story. Then the imagination, the attention and the thought process of each viewer
are free, not determined. (…) The absence of decoration is a prerequisite for making the imagination to
In precisely this way, Belonging to No One begins. It begins inside of a dark, empty space,
within which there is just a black, rounded cloth wall, taking the shape of a big wheel. All of
the elements and objects used in the piece are to be either revealed or sourced from there.
In fact, it just so happens that the first scene, in order of the performance, was the last one that
I created after revamping the piece completely about three times. In it, is collected a review of
voices, witnesses of the Colombian civil war. These are the voices of the many people from
the country sides of Colombia where some of the most terrible combats between soldiers,
guerrilla and paramilitary forces have taken place. They just are telling about the parts of
their different contexts of the moments where the war surprised them. It is the starting point
and the input of the piece. They are the closest memories of this war. The three, two, one.
With it as a curtain, under a spotlight, appears a naked back. It moves with the sound of the
voices, reacting to the different situations as if it were embodying them.
"I do hundreds of schemes of scenery and movements. But I do it only as an exercise knowing that none of these schemes
will be taken seriously the next day. I do it anyway, and it's a good preparation. But if I ask the actors to apply these
schemes I did three days or three months ago, I would be killing everything that could be born alive at the time of rehearsal.
We need to prepare to discard it, build it to demolish..."15
BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino, ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005, p 1914
BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino, ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005, p 19.15
BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino, ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005, p 34.16
After it, just with a turn, we see the
actor who is wearing an apron, cooking
while singing a children song. In this
empty space, a man with an apron can
be a mother or a father playing with
her/his children. Children who we
don’t see physically but through the
action of this man they are created. A
white pot in the hands of this man is a
clear element of an everyday action and
supports the action from the cooking to
the storytelling. It becomes in the same
scene an element to do stomp. A cistern,
creates the shape of the moon with the
flour and could be a hole made for a
shooting on the belly of a victim.
Everything appears been shared by a
story telling about the war while he/
she is cooking.
Until here, three of the most important
elements which would sustenance the
piece from the beginning till the end
have appeared: The apron, a white pot
and the flour. Ordinary elements which
afterwards, by the different uses given
to them, have taken very much
"A banal object can be transformed into a magical one.
(...) This alchemy is possible if the object is so neutral,
ordinary and common, that it can reﬂect the image that
the actor gives. (...) It can be called "empty object"16
As I have mentioned, at the end of the storytelling the performer creates with the help of a
pot and some flour, the shape of a moon on the floor. In the context of the story, this full moon
represents the depth in the cistern, yet also symbolizes the memory of the Death in the war.
By way of this circular image of the full moon, a meaningful relationship of the circles seen in
different parts of the piece as signs, symbols and metaphors are arranged into a visual
"If you want a clear definition, you will find it in what I said before: when I do not perceive anything, it means that
there are no signs I say "I perceive" and not "understand", because to understand is a function of intelligence.We can
often see, throughout the work, things that we do not understand but that we perceive and feel. In other words : I know
what I feel. I can not describe it, but I know what it is."17
GROTOWSKI, Jerzy, Hacia un Teatro Pobre, Tusquets Editores, Barcelona, 1980, p. 32.17
After this moment with the moon,
the action is broken from one
memory to another one, with a
transition supported by a
traditional song sang by the
performer. He goes backstage and
still singing, uncovers black shoes
and a military jacket from behind
of the black circular wall. These
objects are pending from metal
hooks which at the same time are
pending from the ceiling with
chains. He takes the shoes and
starts to clean them with his
apron. But by the action the shoes
are not anymore just shoes, they
become also guns. And he is
taking care of his two guns. A
soldier, a paramilitary or a
member of the guerrilla, a
Colombian man preparing
himself for the war, appears in
front of our eyes.
BARBA, Eugenio, SAVARESE, Nicola. El Arte secreto del Actor, Diccionario de Antropología teatral. Mexico, ed. Escenologia, 1990. p. 188.18
BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino, ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005, p.19
“To do an action denying it. It’s
a principle of omission- says
Eugenio Barba-. There are
many ways to deny an action.
Instead to continue in the
foreseeable direction it’s possible
to change the way. It’s possible to
start from the opposite direction
or maybe to stop the action
respecting its precision. It’s
possible to dilate the pauses and
transitions. To do an action
denying it means to invent in its
interior an infinity of micro-
"An actor has an extraordinary potential to create a bridge between his own imagination and the imagination of
the public. The result is that a banal object can become a magical one. A great actress can make us believe that a
horrible plastic bottle held in her hands, in a certain way, is a beautiful child. One needs a high-quality actor to
produce the alchemy in which one part of the brain sees the bottle and another part, without contradiction,
without tension, with joy, sees the baby. See the mother holding the baby and see the sacred nature of their
The war in Colombia, is Colombians against Colombians, it is kind of a fight against
themselves. Then, when he (the main figure) completely wears the military uniform, the war
commences. I asked myself: “If the Colombian war were personified, what would it look like?
Thus, I arrived at a war which smells of its Spanish roots through the Flamenco. Even if,
historically speaking, the flamenco doesn’t fit with the colonization, it is quite deeply related
with its people. It is an historical input - the shoes and their tapping are taken as the cruel
shots. It reminds me of the colonization of South America by the Spanish people, and the
torturous injustices done to our indigenous peoples, and the heritage of their army. The
rhythmical tapping comes, causing the tension to grow. He meets with the full moon on the
floor, and then the image is destroyed, by a kick. In one fantastic moment, he takes the flour
and puts it inside the white pot. From out of it, the booms and the smoke of war come out
and war is developed with the eventuality of dust spread everywhere as ash. The black floor
of the space becomes totally covered in white and everything falls to ruins.
The dawn of realization comes, finally, when he sees himself as the cause of the destruction.
Death and ruins, he left around. Casting off his shoes and jacket, he struggles to free himself
of any proof of the crime - but it won’t help. The ghosts of all of the people killed by him,
come and whip him with all what they have. There then becomes a Dance. 20
BARBA, Eugenio, SAVARESE, Nicola. El Arte secreto del Actor, Diccionario de Antropología teatral, Mexico, ed. Escenologia, 1990. p. 25820
"When a human being suffers a
shock caused by an excitement, a
serious threat or excessive joy, he
ceases to behave "naturally", he
begins to act "differently",
artificially, at least in the eyes of
an objective observer. Transported
by enthusiasm, the man begins to
make gestures, to dance, to sing
and to "articulate" rhythmically;
Is the sign and not the usual
gesture, which for us constitutes
the elemental exception."20
BARBA, Eugenio, SAVARESE, Nicola. El Arte secreto del Actor, Diccionario de Antropología teatral, Mexico, ed. Escenologia, 1990. p. 25821
In other places the war continues. He (the
figure) puts a fist full of papers inside his
month like to silence himself. But it also
brings us to another place where the war
is. Appears a person in an interrogatory
or death squad.
This man has the mouth full of papers
and he cannot talk. But somehow, by
taking the papers little by little out from
his mouth and reading them, he is able to
say something. It seems, he is answering
to someone with panic. -"I left from... San
Vicente"- Each time the place is changing.
-I left from... Mitú"- He is from
everywhere. -"I left from... Bojayá"- He
becomes the voice of all the kidnapped
people of this war. -"I left from...
Chalán"... - In some moment he has all the
papers in his hands with some strange
energy (of some ghosts) which seems
wants to be liberated. As soon as the man
took all the papers out, he loses his voice.
He cannot speak anymore. Then, he hides
the papers into the pot, with the mouth of
the pot in direction to the floor. The pot
moves. The curious energy wants to
escape. But quickly, he sits on the pot and
silences these voices watching TV with a
lot of irrelevant news and gossip shows.
"The actor's expression derives - almost in spite of himself
- from his actions, from the use of his physical presence. It
is doing and how it has been done, deciding what is
The sounds of the television come from the very same voice as the performer. He is watching
with his back turned to the public, peering into the big black circle which acts as the screen of
this television. It’s as though he has turned his back on reality- avoided it.
BARBA, Eugenio, SAVARESE, Nicola. El Arte secreto del Actor, Diccionario de Antropología teatral, Mexico, ed. Escenologia, 1990. P. 196.22
"What transcends actions, and drags them beyond their illustrative
meaning, derives from the relationship by which they are located in the
context of a situation. Putting them in relation to others becomes
dramatic. To dramatize an action means to introduce a leap of tension
that forces it to develop into meanings other than the originating ones.
Assembly, in short, is the art of placing actions in a context that deviates
them from their implicit meaning.”22
The scenes so seen upon the flickering screen of the television, become a comforting delusion
in the midst of the discomforts of war. This is a bit like trying to avoid all that happens
outside of the bubble of the big cities. This scene in particular is one of those scenes which I
had changed so much, and not just inside itself, but also likewise its position inside the piece.
I managed to remain always open to attempts of rearranging it inside of piece, and likewise
as well to a rearrangement of the physical movements inside the same scene several times, to
see what might happen if I changed something about a specific moment: the rhythm,
prolonging a determinate action, or even the direction of the actor's action or of the furniture.
Here we can find James Thiérree’s words again:
"At the beginning, Tabac Rouge was about creation. I imagined a man in a rehearsal, being overtaken by his own oeuvre.
That was the first layer. Then I introduced a kingdom – a revolution. Then I though it would be interesting if it was the
king who dreamed of undoing his power – and that the people wanted to keep him in place and make sure he didn't destroy
the whole system. It's around these lines that I work. When it becomes specific I try to stop and give it space. I'm
bombarding people with ideas and imagery. I get involved in all the aspects – the light, music, set, any small piece of
furniture, fabric. I try to construct a diagram of what's going to happen. And then … I do exactly the opposite and try to
forget about everything I've put in place and just see what happens as a stage experience."23
In the piece it was really quite necessary to create by discovering, uncovering the meaning of
every small detail as if I were editing a movie: passing from the independency of the scenes to
the creation of relationships between them. Thus, I would like to cite Robert Bresson when he
says: "To compose. We have to know to isolate the parts and make them independent to give them a
new dependency. The spectacle appears from the relation between the different elements which by
themselves, isolated, are not dramatic." In this way, the creative composition of Belonging to No24
One, the scenes did not depend upon the others and by this independence; they were able to
be recomposed internally and in relation with the other scenes.
Rewiev with Wiegand, Chris, Published on 24 March 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/mar/24/james-thierree-chaplin-tabac-rouge-clown-sadlers-wells,23
BARBA, Eugenio, SAVARESE, Nicola. El Arte secreto del Actor, Diccionario de Antropología teatral. Mexico, ed. Escenologia, 1990. 188.24
7. A circus technique used as an element in a theatrical composition.
The idea for the next scene appeared at first as a technical solution, but while it was being
solved, it came into being as a completely other scene. The primary question was how I might
best make the Cyr wheel appear in the piece, making sure that I had well considered how it
would affect the context of the whole production and how it would be interpreted. Let's
remember now the black rounded wall back in the center of the space. The Cyr wheel, a piece
of circus equipment, covered by a black cloth. I decided ultimately to cover the wheel for the
entire first half of the piece, because I realized that if it is visible for too long before it is used,
surrounded by all the theatrical signs which the piece already has, it will generate too many
questions in the spectator, and at the same time, probably would create an undesired
expectation of its use as part of circus technique. So, the clear solution in the end was to put
the cloth on it, creating a well rounded wall. Given the fact that it is rounded, that alone
already generates another sort of a sensation in the space and creates a vista of new
possibilities. But on another hand, after having this, you find that there are many more
possibilities to be used. As an example, it became the screen of the television and the hider of
all the small elements which I used in the piece: the pot, a small bag with flour, a military
jacket and the flamenco shoes. Also it acted as the solution to the problem of how to suspend
the Cyr wheel and the other objects behind it, it gave the opportunity to be developed as
another symbol of the piece. I decided to put five hooks pending from the ceiling. One to
support the Cyr wheel as I said, and the other four leftover as extras, used to hang the other
smaller elements. None of them are made visible from the beginning, but when these five
hooks are uncovered, they create in the space an impression of some kind of a butcher shop
and cause the viewer perhaps to think about what kind of meat might have been hung up on
these hooks in the context of a war. Thus, as in a game of poker, each card of the game is
being uncovered one by one in the running river of the show.
The black cloth is taken when it is being used as the screen of the television. In the dramatic
action, the television calls to be cleaned and while it is being cleaned by the figure, it gets
some strange energy which causes his body to embody many different people - victims of the
The cloth as it is used in this moment as a costume, helps to give the shape of the different
ghosts and display the image of a whole population caught up in the midst of war, and it
comes from some past into the present.
The Cyr wheel is now finally uncovered, and this is the moment in which all kinds of
applications of it as abstract object take place. In the first moment, the Cyr wheel is taken as a
symbol of oppression. Such as when someone has been kidnapped and is being abused by his
oppressors. The wheel spins around - him closer and closer. His Faith becomes a dance in
Action. To escape is not possible. It's a real tension - which the moment generates. He is taken
in front of the death squad and shot. The performer collapses down and the enormous wheel
too falls behind him. Loud noise. The circus act becomes now a part of the drama. The circus,
seen as tension, risk and skill is being placed in the conflict of an action happening in the
present: in a theatrical transposition. In these next scenes, several elements, such as text,
dance and circus technique meet at the same time. Nevertheless, the Cyr wheel is first
introduced not as the ordinary apparatus of circus, for the vain peacocking of virtuosic
performance, but to support the content of the piece in a dramatic and poetic sign. Hence, it
was of final important to find the action which could be suggested through the danced
movements and the manipulation of the object.
The Cyr wheel becomes the oppressors, from the action to the dance movements and from
the dance movements to the circus technique, coming back to the action. It becomes the
limbo and finally the flow of the water carrying the dead bodies of the war.
From the stream to the sea. The stream becomes a creak, the creak becomes a
river and further down it slows, it reaches the sea...
...and will rid us of the pain.
- B E N A V I D E S , H o r a c i o .
Conversación a oscuras. Frailejón
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Nicola. El arte secreto del actor,
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- BROOK, Peter. La porta alerta. Torino,
ed. Giulio einaudi, 2005.
To my mother who even through the distance is beside me.
To my beautiful Tereza and to whole love which surrounds her.
To my classmates, to their presence and to all their great feedbacks.
To all my teachers and their immense passion.
To my external eye Matej Matejka for his professionalism.
To Morgan, Kate, Igor and Levi for checking and correcting my notes.
To Christophe for his super availability.
To Martin, Marek and Peter for the video and the pictures of the performance.
To Silviana, Francesca, and Michelle for their time.
And to everyone who spent even a short but precious time in the corridors.