In conversation with Efrosini Protopapa

MP: You say you are working with the idea of invitations – do they necessarily have to be accepted? – what is the potential for performers ‘to pass’?

EP: My immediate response would be that invitations necessarily have to be accepted, because otherwise they just disappear… it’s like they never happened. But then, that doesn’t necessarily mean answering a question. ‘To pass’ should also be possible. Maybe ‘to pass’ is a different kind of response to an invitation… It certainly expresses an attitude or feeling towards the invitation, and so the performer who chooses ‘to pass’ is responding to the question in a way… or maybe what they are really doing is commenting on the question that has been addressed to them. We then accept this as a response to an invitation.

Somebody asks Hester which Hollywood male actor she finds most attractive…

HE: Pass.

They keep looking at her, waiting for a name…

HE: Pass. Pass. Next question please.

MP: You requested at the beginning for the performers to ‘allow things to sit’ – where is the sitting now? Do you feel there is enough / too much ‘sitting’?

EP: There never seems to be enough sitting. As if when we play a game we always want to keep doing stuff.

On Thurs 31st July we allow space and time for seven separate solos and we discover that the space can be held with much less. Once you allow something ‘to sit’ in the space and the more time you give it, the more it transforms into all kinds of possibilities for the audience…

In her solo, Susanne re-enacts a scene from Ratatouille, then another one from The Name of the Rose. Questions keep being asked, but she sticks to her material. The more the same material goes on, the more it transforms depending on the question that it [the material] appears to respond to.

MP: What is the relationship between representation, pastiche and parody?

EP: Giorgos and Pano are working on scenes from Gone with the Wind, Dangerous Liaisons and The Piano. We call these ‘the love betrayal scenes’. This is definitely a deliberate imitation, re-enactment, re-presentation. However, dialogues and actions extracted from their context can seem quite ridiculous. Is it impossible to avoid parody? An interest emerges in exploring whether we could do something different with the material, i.e. find a way to re-enact material from film scenes that won’t turn it into a parody, but will perhaps reveal something about what’s really going on in that scene – something like a sub-text perhaps?

A different kind of performativity emerges at this stage. I hear myself speaking about ‘really doing the material’, ‘not making fun of it’, ‘going inwards’, ‘not thinking about how this looks from the outside’…

Now it often looks tragic – really tragic, not funny-tragic. The reference to cinema is still there, but now it’s more about love betrayals than about particular films or scenes. Now, I almost ‘believe’ them. There is a shift that happens in the performers when they take something ‘for real’… as if they now have a different relationship to the material, as if they want to say something through it… something of their own, that is.

Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar mask, speech in a dead language; but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody’s ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse. (Jameson 1984).

Two new questions emerge then in relation to our task:

* What is the purpose, or ‘ulterior motive’, of our imitations?

* In transferring acts and words from the cinema screen and into the performance space, is avoiding parody an impossible task

MP: What is the intention of the text?

EP: Possible ways in which the text works:

* as a trigger for response / reaction

* as a response triggered by action

* as a sound-scape for action

The intention of a text which takes the form of a list of questions seems to lie in what it does to the person being questioned… but also in what it makes the questioning person appear like…

On Wednesday 30th July we play a Q&A game inspired by Forced Entertainment’s Quizoola! for six hours in the evening… Some of us have done this before, but Susanna, Elena and I notice that this time everyone has been responding much more honestly (or, so it seems), without trying to construct a fictional answer that might sound true. Hester and Giorgos ask what the purpose of this was for us as performers. I think it’s this: to remind us that there is also the possibility of answering with the truth in performance. Will anyone know the difference anyway? When it’s a quiz on cinema, I imagine the audience member-listener probably playing the game in their mind, coming up with an answer and then waiting to see if that’s the answer the performer will give too.

If it’s a more open-ended question though, I imagine the audience member-listener also becoming curious about how the performer who has been addressed will interpret the question in the first place. And then, the possible responses one might expect also multiply.

1st case:

GI: Susanna, how long is Barbra Streisand’s nose?

SU: 8 inches long.

2nd case:

GI: Susanna, how long is Barbra Streisand’s nose?

SU: (she lifts the microphone and places it in front of her nose).

3rd case:

GI: Susanna, how long is it?

SU: (in a high-pitched voice, coming from the nose…) We have vinegar, vinegar and oil, plain oil, thousand island, hundred island, Hawaiian island, three miles island, Russian, German, Swiss, mayo, Rockford, blue cheese, brown cheese, cheese, cheese and bacon, bacon bits, bacon chips.

MP: What is the intention of the microphone?

A Master or Mistress of Ceremonies or MC (sometimes spelled emcee), sometimes called a compère or an MJ for ‘microphone jockey’, is the host of an official public or private staged event or other performance. The MC usually presents performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the event moving. The MC sometimes also acts as the protocol officer during an official state function. (Wikipedia).

EP: The person asking questions on the microphone seems to have a certain power over the whole event. Eva Martinez (Dance4) said it’s like a voice coming from above or from outside. And then what is interesting is that the MC is not really the same person throughout the work. So, the interchange-ability between the roles of the MC and the respondent is maybe what creates play.

Then, when someone responds to a question by making a confession on the microphone, I feel what they’re saying becomes more secretive and mysterious.

Or is it just about the voice coming from the microphone sounding more sensual? Pano laughs when I say that using the microphone is kind of sexy.

Again, I remember Forced Entertainment passing the microphone around in the beginning of Bloody Mess, and then its strong presence as material in the rest of the show.

I would now like to play with the microphone being taken around to different places, but am still looking for a reason for that to happen.

MP: What is the scope for silence?

EP: I’m missing some more silence… This is what I probably meant by things being allowed ‘to sit’. A lot of guessing, thinking, doubting, imagining, anticipating and revealing happens in silence. How this happens is still curious to me…

MP: What happens if you remove the questions / answers?


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