1 9 Monologue at The Place is a dance macabre

Phrases by Bengi-Sue Sirin.

Tuberculosis is one thing I do know little or no about. It feels very distant – both as a part of the Romantic poet period or as one thing no one I do know has had. However a daring and fairly distinctive piece of dance-cum-performance artwork I noticed at The Place opened my eyes to a brand new method of taking a look at TB (even when at occasions I squeamishly coated mentioned eyes with my fingers!)

1 9 Monologue, particularly not nineteen however ‘one 9,’ was carried out by Verena Stenke (German) and her husband Andrea Pagnes (Italian). Collectively they’re VestandPage, a ground-breaking and prolific efficiency artwork firm recognized for his or her philosophical themes and defiance of conference.

Don’t be shocked to see blood in a VestandPage piece! Their artistic course of is thorough and multifaceted. I wasn’t certain what ‘1 9’ signified, however I bought some readability on the post-show speak. Stenke defined ‘1 and 9, two elements speaking to 1 one other… 1 is the self, proven by me, and 9 is an different, the micro organism multiplying, carried out by Andrea.’ And the monologue facet was fairly self-explanatory; a poetic composition detailing TB, referencing the huge historical past of the illness, the reams of people that ‘died in order that [we] can stay,’ and the science behind it. I particularly bear in mind from the start, “After we open our mouths, we are able to’t be chargeable for every little thing that goes in.” Then Stenke screamed silently right into a yellowed bookpage, and we had been sucked into the world of TB, a world she herself was briefly part of.

“It was the Danse Macabre however with latex.”

To her facet, throughout a walkway fabricated from shattered glass, was Pagnes. He kneeled on the ground, wrapped in knotted bandages that jogged my memory of sinews and tendons and Egon Schiele work. A kind of flesh-coloured latex masks certain his head and his bicep was pierced by feathers. He did look as ‘bacterial’ as a human can get. Pagnes certain his ankles in knots of barbed wire and blew right into a bowl of incense-like ash, sending smoky white whorls into the air. Such actions had been strikingly corporeal reminders of the fixed proximity of airborne infectious illnesses like TB, and the unrelenting grasp they lure us in. Then, he picked up what I realised was a deflated inflatable forged, and started to slowly waltz with it to a Weimar-esque tinkling piano tune. It was the Danse Macabre however with latex. I discovered the best way that he held it upright, his hand jerked into its ruptured head, to attract consideration to the sallowness of illness and never far off skeletal.

The following part took corporeality to the subsequent stage, although. That shattered glass walkway grew to become a hellish runway below Pagnes’ naked ft, which he painstakingly made his method throughout while supporting an intact (and really heavy-looking!) glass pane on his again. I used to be sitting inside three metres and I heard each crunch, amplified by way of the microphones of my listening to aids, fortunate me! A very massive one made us all wince, even the deaf buddies I used to be with (belief me after I say the crunching of glass is simply as visible as it’s auditory). I coated my eyes after I noticed a jagged shard stubbornly caught in his heel. The sheer damaging prospects of this glass-walking motif was on the verge of an excessive amount of, however made an important level about TB and the way we mustn’t overlook it. It nonetheless impacts greater than 1.5 million individuals worldwide a yr, a truth I realized from this system notes. The variations between the 2 our bodies of glass drew consideration to how one thing intact and one thing damaged are literally two sides of the identical factor, how simply we flip a blind eye to multiplicity, and the way shut we’re to fragmentation at any second.

As soon as he completed his harrowing crossing over the shattered glass, Pagnes reached Stenke. She stood encased in a torturous wanting steel corset, half majestic and half subjugated. Naked pores and skin was patched over with extra of that yellowed paper. The intact glass pane was positioned between the 2 performers, permitting the illness to stare the troubled proper within the face. Pagnes blew a puff of that white ash in direction of Stenke, who was protected solely by that  sheet of glass. The remnants of that latex physique forged had been draped excessive of the pane and tugged by every in a present of fragility. It was as if we watched the second the TB seeped its method into Stenke’s physique, rendering her contaminated. We noticed her sheer will to withstand whereas in a lot ache, to easily not shatter. I used to be transfixed.

One other very transferring sequence was Pagnes crawling throughout the shattered glass, finally mendacity down on his again. I noticed skinny crimson ribbons of blood on stray latex. Then, Stenke used the intact pane to impose a kind of entire physique mammogram on him, crushing him beneath it. It was an attention-grabbing twist of company whereby the troubled grew to become the observer, wanting down at him like a specimen or an exhibit. After a bacteria-dominated first part, it was refreshing to see Stenke lead the actions. And for the primary time, I felt hope. That TB, portrayed up to now as all highly effective and glass-walkingly fearless, could also be contained and even cured. Which it may! And 1 9 Monologue didn’t finish right here, it took an much more optimistic bow out. Randomly chosen members of the viewers had been invited up to answer a mysterious query requested by Pagnes right into a looping microphone. These utterances layered on prime of each other far faster than I might comprehend – I solely caught the phrase ‘hope.’ Nevertheless, I preferred the symbolism of viewers participation as an erosion of the stigma in direction of TB. I feel all of us underwent an entire shift in our angle in direction of it, which is known as a exceptional factor for a 70 minute efficiency artwork piece to perform. Bravo!

One other bravo for the fantastic BSL interpreter too, Sumayya Si-Tayeb. I noticed ‘BSL interpreted’ on this system however didn’t know what stage of involvement to count on. Si-Tayeb, who I had the possibility to speak to afterwards, was requested by VestandPage to do what is known as ‘free translation,’ which is much less word-for-word than poetic interpretation of the textual content. The way in which she moved had tons in widespread with dance itself, and likewise with what is thought within the deaf group as Visible Vernacular (nicely price trying out if you’re unfamiliar!) I can not specific sufficient how magnetic Si-Tayeb’s efficiency was, however on the identical time I do marvel if one thing extra according to direct translation would have offered extra readability for the deaf buddies I sat with. Both method, hers was a side of the piece that I turned to for respite from the extraordinary glass-crunching! 

The post-show speak added one other side that makes me replicate on 1 9 Monologue with fondness. As I discussed briefly, Stenke herself had TB and it’s clear how private the piece is by how deeply they dig into ache. She spoke articulately in regards to the difficulties of her TB coinciding with COVID, about her course of and its catharsis, her inspirations… However it’s what Pagnes mentioned that actually struck me. He described 1 9 Monologue as ‘a sort of love story… a concentrate on my spouse.’ I really noticed that of their motion catalogue, from the extraordinarily delicate method they dealt with the intact glass pane, to his self-flagellating interplay with the shattered one. As Stenke mentioned, “if you find yourself sick you’re preventing and preventing, looking for a method out,” and I feel 1 9 Monologue actually captured that. Sure it was a tricky watch, nevertheless it had one thing essential to point out us.