Jette Ostan Vejrup
directed, set design: Matej Filipčič
dramaturgy, text: Irena Štaudohar, Arundhati Roy
costume design: Alan Hranitelj
music: Mitja Vrhovnik Smrekarvoice: Jurij Souček
light: Tomaž Štrucl
photo: Peter Uhan
production OSUM and Gallery of Modern Art Ljubljana
project was realized by help of Ministry of Culture and City Municipal of Ljubljana
Shot in the Eyes
Walking through the city at night we see everyday scenes of inaudible film inserts – idyllic family life, boredom, empty rooms, loneliness, tenderness... The excitement of observation pieces together stories only in our imagination and here memory is the best glue – "the miraculous conception of life". We always make the best storytellers to ourselves and the subconscious and conscious memories draw the bow of narration to a saga of our recent and ancient history. The family is an intonation of relationships: ours, our parents[opuscaj], our parents[opuscaj] parents[opuscaj]... Far back, we can search for patterns, crimes, loves, failed communication, fears...
OSUM (“suspicion”) is a fusion of an individual story, a family saga and a crime story. It is a story of a mother, daughter, son, sister, brother, husband, mistress, lover... It paints a moment in which our life can be pieced together in the model[opuscaj]s time machine. From a birdˇs perspective, we can look down on the model and study with detective-like precision both warm and cruel passages of the past and apply them to the present. The micro-world of the interior can be held in our hands with the grace of saints from medieval paintings or with the coldness of an executioner killing the memory with a single squeeze of hands on the neck. There is no more difference between inside and outside, we can only look from up-close and inwards.
The pulse of the show stems from the film "Rashomon" by director Akira Kurosawa. The film is a synonym for the best crime story of human tissue, where all the characters admit to murder and yet lie, since – said one of the witnesses – humans are incapable of telling the truth because they are mortal. And because they have desires.
Nevertheless, the best micro cosmos is carried around with us to be enacted when we look deep into someone[opuscaj]s eyes, see the "night of the world" in them, and recognize ourselves… We spring off as a runner at a sound of a gun and we run, run to be faster than the bullet in our eyes.
OSUM is a performance conceived as a detective story, which is quite an unusual genre for theatre. The inspiration for the mode of narration comes from one of the best conceived murder mystery films – Rashomon (directed by Akira Kurosawa), in which four witnesses, among them the victim himself, explain their version of the murder. Each is different, each possible, and so the murder remains a mystery forever.
The second motif used as inspirational material is the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, above all Rear Window and Vertigo. French writer Celine, for example, said that there are two kinds of people: exhibitionists and voyeurs.
The performance foregrounds the emotions of love, passion, oblivion, memory, melancholia, emptiness, while flirting with classic melodramatic stories. One of the theses is that the perfect murder is forgetting the person we were once so passionately and deeply in love with. The very thought of not carrying them in our mind seemed impossible. Where does love disappear to and who kills it? In addition to the thrilling story, classic whodunit suspense and filmic dialogues, the actors are supposed to bring attention also to the graphic and spatial qualities. That is why the performance is set in a gallery.
Spatial determinations are made using the principle of an architectural model which represents a room inhabited by three people with different fates (Rear Window). The “happening” within the model is thus reflected on stage (microcosm and macrocosm).
We may proceed from the thesis that a detective’s fate is actually very similar to the one of the director or dramaturge/scriptwriter. They all try to put themselves into the shoes of the hero. In a murder mystery, it is the murderer, just like in classical Greek or renaissance plays where the main motor of action is also murder or a desire for murder. The detective discovers and composes the fate of the hero, “snoops” on them, assembles their life story, tries to discover the story of their childhood, collects their childhood photos, leafs through their diary and wonders what led to their committing a crime. A dramaturge or a director acts similarly in the process of creating a performance. They try to solve the enigma of the human psyche and fate, which is the classical poetics of every drama – something Aristotle already wrote about. The very reconstruction of the murder which is part of every denouement of a detective story is very theatrical in a way – in the sense of directing and the precise mise-en-scène of the happening.
Eskimos say: if you want to catch a polar bear, you have to become a polar bear. So this is a performance where we are all detectives, victims and murderers.
"Miniature in White"
What is the power of white? Does one colourless background fade all the differences so that the question of sin and guilt becomes pointless? Or does white enhance the two even more and the one who is sinful and guilty is so utterly? Perhaps there is a third option – white as the (non)colour of nostalgia in the end covers all, the sinful and the innocent, with the same veil of emotive tranquillity and remembrance...
These are not the fundamental questions and the answers are not crucial. Their power lies in details. These have to be caught at the right moment, as they are mercilessly destined to disappear in white.
"Suspicion" - the show by director, set and costume designer Matej Filipčič, and author of the script, playwright Irena Štaudohar – makes use of the whiteness of the walls in the Slovenian Contemporary Art Museum, while a "house painter" is applying an extra layer of white just before the show starts. A white rug is laid out on the floor and both women in the show are dressed in white; only the man is black.
Yet, the black makes him no more "guilty". We should not judge too quickly and "suspect" him by heart, is a message of the author. The play is about something else: the reversibility of action, role shifting, escaping words and relativisation of view. They (we?) all are suspects and nobody is guilty (anymore).
The viewer is drawn by the serene concentration of the performers, Jette Vejrup Ostan, Iva Zupančič and Akira Hasegawa, by their unpretentious acting with thought-out balance between psychology and stylisation. Their performance is as mature or naive as needed, contemplative or erotic, sincere or elusive, but always supple and sensitive, nostalgic and on the verge of oblivion, as if painted in white on white.
Blaž Lukan, Delo
- 42. Borštnikovo srečanje, Maribor, Slovenia, 2003
- UNIDRAM FESTIVAL, Potsdam, Germany, 2004