Out of context
notes on L'Ailleurs de l’autre

- Fabienne Vegt

When working with the vocal recordings from Musée du Quai Branly in Paris - which are archived and well taken care of by the museum - we work with material that is necessarily out of context.
The research for L’Ailleurs de l’autre centers around the question: What can be discovered within the play of decontextualisation?

What happens when opera singers set aside scores and music theory and embark on a journey of discovery by means of traditional lullabies, shamanic formulas, battle cries or shepherd songs? The result is a dialogue between several oral traditions from different parts of the globe, in which similarities are found and vocal expressions have the chance to connect and overlap one another.

Through music-ethnological recordings of the twentieth century, five sopranos have come in contact with songs from all over the world. In adopting these songs, they have made it a rule not to use scores. Following the central themes of this project - transmission, learning by listening, no(?) notation - composer Hanna Eiermacher has created a work that in the same way obeys this protocol of learning and as well as that of memorizing.

Looking at the theatre as a place to (con)fuse location, past, now and future, L’Ailleurs de l’autre shakes our conventions in regards to the female voice and appearance.
Though departing from the idea for an imagined female futurism, the dramaturgy of the performance is not based on an explicit narration; rather the sense of the piece is constituted within the combination of costume design, choreography, song and scenography.
The organisation of signs, codes, gestures and their (con)fusion, creates a piece that remains open for the personal experience of the audience - whom are invited to compose their own interpretation of what is seen and heard.

“Travelling to an unknow world is a method to come closer to yourself. It’s there where you will be confronted with your own habits and everything you take for granted. At the same time, it offers you the possibility to surpass your personal thresholds. It’s exactly because of the confrontation with other alternatives, that you can go further.”
Kim Kooiman *

The mind of the spectator is free to travel to this ‘other world’ that L’Ailleurs de l’autre presents. The performance collides different cultures, traditions and rituals in order to present a new proposition to our way of thinking and knowing the qualities of the female voice.

The visual journey of L’ailleurs de l’autre hints to the representations of feminist icons; woman like Pussy Riots, Lady Gaga or Jennifer Walshe (whos make-up allows her to escape Google’s facial recognition). What is the image of a woman who represents her powerful self? L’ailleurs de l’autre allows a reflection on todays’ feminism, by taking an imagined distance into the future.

The performance imagines the future of planet earth as a place where history is forgotten. All information is lost, there is no data to remind of previous cultures. It is a world in which all the connections to what was once held sacred have vanished; no traditions, no differences, no strangers, no others, no elsewhere, no trace of the past. The women in L’ailleurs de l’autre perform a new form of ritual of from this futuristic era, in which they re-invent their voice and their female identity.

* a quote from Kooimans’ article ‘Het verlangen om te reizen’ in ‘Wie zou ik zijn als ik zijn kon. Vrouw en theater. 1975-1998’. Translated by Fabienne Vegt.

L’Ailleurs de l’autre

Stage direction: Aliénor Dauchez
Musical direction: Geoffroy Jourdain
Costume design: Miriam Marto, Aliénor Dauchez
Scenography: Michael Kleine
Dramaturgy: Fabienne Vegt
Singers: Anaël Ben Soussan, Marie Picaut, Camille Slosse, Michiko Takahashi

première April 13 // Opéra de Reims

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