Paris, 24-27 November 2012

La Tranplanisphère shares with the participants a pedagogical and creative process based on one of the method it uses for its projects. The group experiences an approach based on interviews of existing personalities edited and adapted to provide characters and lines. It uses interviews made before but also they will benefit from a daily encounter with some specialists they will interview, giving them additional material for the work in progress (story telling). 

La Transplanisphère also asks the participants to question the way medias deal with the contributions of “specialists” to stage the news and analysis of the crisis.

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Pace / Paris Session / Nov. 25th. Interview with Erika Haglund (documentary filmmaker) and Pascal Doucet-Bon (Chief Editor France 2 prime time news)



Friday 23, pre-meeting

20:00  screening at La Fémis (National school of Cinema). “Le moindre centime” (a penny), by Erika Haglund and Benjamin Serero. 
A documentary film on a social help office in the North of France. Meeting with the directors and cocktail after the screening.

LA FEMIS

"And we couldn't have wished for a better start. Friday evening, just a few hours after landing in Paris, we meet in "La Femis", for the screening of “Le moindre centime”, a film directed by Erika Haglund and Benjamim Serero, a documentary film about the work of a social help office in the north of France. The film is quite centred in some of the same political topics we are trying to tackle, so we all look foward to welcome one of the directors in our first session tomorrow morning." Carlos Costa


Saturday 24

9:30 Kick off meeting at Transplanisphère office.

10:30 Welcome meeting. 

11:00 Interview #1. Pascal Doucet Bon. Chief Editor France 2 Prime Time news.

12:00 Interview #2. Erika Haglund et Benjamin Serero, documentary filmmakers of Le Moindre Centime. 

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Icebreaking. Theatre Workshop #1 using the material collected in interview #1 + #2

European_Fruits_impro_pace.jpg


17:30 evaluation

18:00 Break

20:30 Performance, Les Jeunes, by David Lescot, Théâtre Les Abesses

 

"The group leaders wake up one our earlier for a meeting around production details. This is the first time we are all together since the preparatory visit in Athens, 10 months ago. Going straight to the questions we deal with several questions concerning the rules of the partnership, travelling, obligations of each partner and so on.

Afterwards all the teams are toghether, and the work begins after a brief presentation. Our morning guests bring us two strong and different experiences from film and television: Erika Haglund, director of the film we saw last evening and Pascal Doucet Bon, chief editor of the public television night news. And we also have the presence of a group of Political Science students, in charge of the transcription of the conversation. From the beginning what we have in mind is to use the interviews as material for the work in the afternoon.

Halglund and Doucet Bon share with us, of course, two very different perspectives on the aesthetics and politics of film and television. Erika works within a permanent refusal of the fiction mechanisms that are usually accepted by documentary film, for instance working only with one camera and editing in such way that the spectator is convinced of a permanent continuity. The script sculpts time in such away that leaves no room for a judgment from the author. On the other hand, Pascal seems to live in an obsession with the time he doesn't have: time for the work of the journalist, time for the television piece, and time for long shots. Time is a luxury i don't have, he says. And in that case time must be the luxury a documentary filmmaker can afford, low budgets but lots of time.

And while we all go deep in the discussion, we start having the sensation that although we share many concerns about the “crisis situation” perhaps we are taking for granted what everybody else is feeling. And we close the morning session with the sensation that we might not be all talking about the same thing, and remembering a particular sentence from the public television chief editor: “I do not deal with the true, but with different kind of lies.

Pascal assures us the media's goal is not one of providing hope and it appears evident that we've moved from a paradigm of seeking truth, to one of choosing between lies. With a machete, in a thick jungle, where newsmen appear to be the 4th in a hierarchy of explorers. Between Erika and Pascal we realize how much of the language and techniques of fiction have crossed into the news and, doing that, they may loose interest for fiction creators. Erika makes it clear: the characters depicted on her documentary needed to know if they were TV reporters, because they don't care about television. TV is for rich people. TV uses poor people as background for stories where they have no voice. Where they're run over by voice-over reports. João Martins

Pascal Doucet Bon is quite pessimistic as regard the crisis and the years to come: lots of grey clouds in perspective. For him, from a journalistic point of view, the only benefit of the crisis is the journalists’ feeling to have a duty to cover better the economic situation. The preceding situation from that point of view was a shame. They didn’t pay attention to the economic field or just illustrated it as the TV did in the 70’s with the oil crisis. Journalists now have a more modern and efficient way to show the economic issues using graphics to explain the concepts. Since for Pascal Doucet Bon hope lies in more creative companies, more Europe and more political Europe, it is a real challenge to understand and to make understand economy. In the same time even if the best way to sell paper is fear, journalists have to look for hope to prevent being responsible for depression or sucides. It rests on them to choose the “good” information that makes sense. Some choice can prove to be wrong. He gives the example of the focus that was given on rating agencies one week that was completely forgotten the week after. It was an error of focus. Marianne Gautier


We than take advantage of the lunch time to know each other better, but it's just a short break because one hour after we move to a larger room where we can do some more pratical work. The idea is to try to find some performance approach to the materials collected during the morning.

We start by pointing the main issues: JUNGLE, HIERARCHY, NO TIME, AGENDA, SUICIDE/ZAPPING, CHOOSING BETWEEN LIES, FACTS AS TRAPS, SHARED TECHNIQUE, WAR/CRISIS/BOMBS/SPORTS, FEAR SELLS PAPERS, TV FOR RICH PEOPLE, MISTAKES,HOPE, MORE OR LESS. We then voted for 3 topics to begin the experience: SHARED TECHNIQUE, WAR/CRISIS/BOMBS/SPORTS, CHOOSING BETWEEN LIES. And finally we divided ourselves in 3 groups of different nationalities and in a very short time we prepared and presented to each other small performances, trying to deal with those question. And after each attempt we discussed the way in which the language chosen managed (or not) to deal with the problem.


The topics of the impro

• Choosing between lies: (It was taken by Ana, Tomaso, Linus, Costas, Bendix and Katerina)

Each actor representing one’s own country speaks in his own language giving the definition of the truth.  This definition seems to be objective. The actors are seated on chairs in a row and one after the other they translate “the objective” definition given by their preceding neighbors in their own language. Little by little that definition is transformed in such a way that the actors feel the need to check it on their mobile phone on Wikipedia or on dictionaries of their own language or are ready to check on a French dictionary, French being the only missing language in the impro. But gradually different definitions of the truth are given in each language of the six countries, overlapping one onto the other.  It ends up by a sort of quarrel between them all, each of them pleading to say their definition, “the Italian one” “the Portuguese one” and so on, is the good one.

• Shared Technic: (It was taken by Carlos, Alfredo, Marianne, Shane, Marion)

In the impro, an actor playing the part of a teacher asks questions to the other actors who are sitting on the floor and play the part of the little school children. By her questioning, the teacher tries to make them find why they are unhappy to live in split villages and why they should be happy that the two split villages from which they come will soon be  joined by a road and  a bridge. She draws the picture on the blackboard. It will enable them to see each other and play together after school! On a second step, in a sort of city hall meeting with the citizens, it is the turn of architects, urbanites and politicians to speak about those two villages and this “ideal situation”. Once again, one actor playing the role of an architect is trying to convince the citizens that the huge project of a metropolis is what they need and that it is for the good of all. With the help of charts and graphics the ideal of linking people is taken by the politicians and urbanites and architects to become a modern nightmare with awful highways everywhere. The drawing of the little bridge of the teacher has evolved in plans of hundred of bridges and highways.

The idea for the actor playing the "person in charge" was to use the technic of a teacher taking the citizens for children to drive them where he wanted to. The technic of a nursery school associated to the complexity of graphics and charts he is the only one to understand is used in relation to something that shouldn’t be treated that way.

• War/Crisis/Bombs/Sport : ( It is taken by  Edwina, Elodie, Joao, Linus, )

The actors give us the idea of the impro rather than play the impro themselves (lack of time to achieve it)

They thought of the structure of an irish sport broadcast, also mixing the technics in an inappropriate way to reveal reality. As in a sport broadcast, we could hear an actor announcing as a sport journalist would say: “and now it’s time for the sport !”, “and now, it’s time for the working crisis!“ or “and “now it’s time for the war in Gaza! “ with the same excited tone.

There could be 3 sections

First: introducing someone who is talking on the war

Second: using the sport vocabulary and tone to describe the war as if it was a football match (the exciting war in Gaza )

Third: giving the results using charts : number of deaths in Gaza, number of deaths in Israeli as if they were Charts giving the number of goals in a football match. Then, as if they moved from one championship to another they change from war to unemployment in Europe. Then they propose the time for the bets. : Who is going to win the war, to lose it and so on.

The idea is to show that using complicated graphics and charts can be completely meaningless. The TV communication languages are used here in the “impro to be” to convey different messages by using a technic which is not appropriate. Focusing on a certain way of communicating and by changing the tools the actors reveal our way of consuming information that make us lose the reality of the tragedy of the message.


Our thoughts circled around what role media plays on misleading people in their opinion of whats happening. Linus Sundquist



Sunday 25

11:00 Interview #3. David Irle, "enlighted amateur"


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Pace / Paris Session / Nov. 26th. Interview with David Irle by Skype

12:00 Brunch altogether

13:30 Theatre Workshop #2 using the material collected in interview #3

17:30 evaluation

 "The morning session is organized around a skype conversation with David Irle, who calls himself an “enlighted amateur” on the crisis, trying to fight the power of the professionals who didn't see the crisis coming because they are “passionate believers”: they believe in the system and in the market; And this kind of faith must be daily confronted with new solutions and new powers. David states that language is being used to make what is simple look complex and so keeping citizens away from the real decision processes.

The discussion was specially centred in the European identity and the cliches used by the media to portray the relations between the European nations (food, animals, sex) leading the group to the conclusion that a public European space can not be build upon the images delivered by mass media. But David did not leave us without being forced to present 4 ways to deal with the crisis he has been studying:

  • Reducing consumption;
  • Sharing work (21 hours week);
  • Redefining work (doing what you do without being paid for);
  • Finding another measure to replace the GDP as a measure of our economic growth;

A strong belief in the power of the web and the question of a pan-european linguistic utopia seems to me the most disturbing aspect of the interview, however. How can one act at a local scale with a global perspective, using tools that are still not available to all, and a language that is not shared and, as such, remains as a tool for some kind of power? That debate for me is crucial for European activism: how to balance local needs and actions, that require a special attention to cultural and socio-economical features, with networking activities that increase connections and efficiency, without having an unbalanced playing field, based on the mastering of a particular set of tools and skills (technologies, language, etc.)? João Martins

The session ended with a brief presentation of Susan George's “ How to win the class war”, (anticipating her visit tomorrow afternoon), but David also had left some clues for us to follow: Eurozine.com (a digital magazine digest), “the Construction of European Identity” by Manuel Castells (a statement prepared for the european presidency of the European union), the blog pauljorion.com and the you tube clip of the clash between irish journalist Vincent Brown and Klaus Masuch from the Central European Bank.

David Irle was well informed, serious and used quite right examples to enforce his arguments. The essay he has proposed us o identity was serious and well intentioned but somehow tried to refute the technocratic arguments concerning European identity by using a still technocratic language.” Ioannis Andreadis

In the afternoon we followed, more or less, yesterday's approach: We divided in two groups, one inspired by Castells' statement (about European identity) and the other inspired by George's fiction (about economical power). After a fast reunion both groups proposed a small performance inspired by the two texts.


The 2 topics chosen were European Identity and Greed.

• European Identity (inspired by David Irle’s text): taken by Joao, Carlos, Ana, Shayne, Tomaso, Jose, Katerina

The actors stand in front of us holding a trail full of tangerines and oranges of different size possessing leaves or without leaves. With this device the participants showed how the problem of identities can be complicated by differences within a same identity. Each actor represents one of the species of the fruit on the trail. Even if they all are fruit they are different and quarrel for their differences to be recognized. Actually, even if some are supposed to be of the same species (we understand: belonging to the same country), there are tangerine which are big and others which are small, some are with leaves and some without. So the problem of belonging to a nation or another in Europe is complicated by the differences and quarrels within a same nation! Showing their claims and conflicts the actors made a very funny demonstration of fruit quarrelling and competition. A bit suspicious towards European unity!

• Greed (Inspired by Susan George’s text):  taken by Ioannis, Alfredo, Marianne, Costas, Linus…

A sort of showman Monsieur Loyal explains in direct to the audience how rich people should keep on consuming and buying and drinking champagne as long as they are cute enough to hide it! As an illustration, a rich woman in fur, full of jewelry and lying on a sofa, eats and drinks, picking out of her fur coat all her food and drinks she tries to hide from the audience. She keeps smiling to the audience while being served also by a servant and asking for the best Champagne brand! Two soldiers are always there, obeying her orders and securing social peace but without violence: It is important to explain softly to the people why they should be squeezed ! So she orders her soldiers not to use violence.


Afterwards, and using the two performances as reference, a long and critical discussion took place: Why are we doing theatre? How should we do theatre? How should we consider the audience? Should the meanings be closed by the artist or left open for the audience to write also? Should the topics be used as subject or should the performance make sense without using the topics? How should the performance context be used to put the poetics in perspective?

The different approaches were a great opportunity to discuss poetical and aesthetical strategies, even if the initial terms of the argument were a bit confusing and it was refreshing to see the debate unfold in such an open and committed fashion. That was learning at its best, I guess. João Martins

The session ended but we stayed together for a walk. Were we finally starting to talk about the same things although in different perspectives?

As creators from all over Europe gathering here to try and work together, we are immediately faced with this question - and it did in fact appear in the afternoon work, as we discussed if there is a "better" or "more effective" way to portrait the crisis in the performance arts. Should we shy away from some aesthetical forms that might backfire on us? Should we stick to our personal creative drive? Should we aggregate all ways of portraying the situation because together "we are more"? Ana Vitorino

And a conclusion from David Irle himself:

In order to adress, the issue of « solutions »question, I would say that there are, from my point of view, at least three different types of solutions that we can consider to solve our problems.

I won't name-brand those solutions because one of the aspects of the modern world is that those solutions are most of the time born in anonymous conditions at the same time in different places of the planet.

Ideas and solutions are growing, and are developing better in anonymous conditions, without any "branding". Maybe like other free common goods should.

A) Short term solutions, most of them, very technical ones, leads to a better functioning of a similar system. There are plenty of short-term solutions, specially about the financial crisis, specially concerning the Eurozone. 

Two examples of those short term solutions : Authorize the ECB to lend directly to European States would solve the Euro Debt Crisis in a minute, meanwhile other options are leading governments from last-chance summits to last chance summits. Instaure a small tax on all financial transactions, declare illegal shadow banking system or separate bank activities will instantly reduce the whole risks of our financial system. Those are very simple solution, easy to implement without any counter-effect, except the one of reducing happy few people's fake profits. They are not implemented only for ideological reasons. This ideology is mainly known as ordo-liberalism which is mostly a german model of liberalism. That's the religion we have, at the moment.

B) Middle term solutions, most of them, political ones, leads to improve the system, but they act as transition measures. They facilitate the transition to a completely different model without resolving the roots of our problems. Various example of those kind of solutions : reinstaure a progressive tax code, instaure a salary cap, reduce and share worktime (example : kurzarbeit in Germany), etc... those middle terme solutions are partly those implemented after the second world war (welfare states, keynesian theories), partly inherent of fordism model (based on mass-consumption), and partly original proposals (mainly ecological ones) to address the troubles caused either by welfare states and by the fordism model on the resources of the planet (specially the peak oil).

C) Long term solutions, most of them, social ones, leads to a fundamental transformation of our society. If we consider the rising of the Internet as it is, a social change as big as printing, which gonna change even the way we think, if we consider the ending of the cheap oil and cheap energy era, we may conclude that the age of capitalism is over, as finished was the age of feodalism when Gutemberg took place and while a whole new continent of free resources and "empty" spaces was colonized. This could lead to a deep transformation of the main structure of human relationships, work, and of course what we call market, and deeply change our main social conventions, such as property for example. I think the issue of copyrights, ridiculously demonstrated recently by Apple, on the one side, and the creative common license on the other side) are particularly good examples of what I mean, of that kind of transformation. The notion of common goods may also be deeply impacted by the rarefaction of ressources and could lead to the development of shared uses (shared car, shared flats, shared connexions, shared computers, etc...).

But finally, as a starting solution, I would say what is my favorite solution : never trust someone who is explaining that there is no solution.


Monday 26

10:00 Meeting for World Crisis Theatre members. 

13:30 Group meeting. Share on each other's questions, knowledge and experience. Do you or your institution face challenges that you need help with?

17:00 Interview #3. Susan George, political scientist

Suzan_George_Pace.jpg


19:00 Pause. 

21:00 Open meeting with friends. “What are our plans for creation in the context of crisis, how to go forward ?” in the context of a famous parisian theatre that is expected to close because of money issues. Venue: Theatre Paris Villette.


"In the first period of the day each partner is supposed to share with the others one artistic/pedagogical problem which he is facing in his national context. The idea is to brainstorm around the previous experiences partners might have had in that area.

One of the partners is trying to find a way between the desire of the audiences (always searching for answers) and the boundaries of theatrical and pedagogical artistic practice (awaking social conscience).

Another partner is  searching for the best way to choose the final trainees for an international artistic project: how should the responsibility be taken? Just by the trainer/director? Or shared with (a part of) the trainees.

A third partner is having problems when dealing with the technologies used to record interviews, in the context of artistic projects? How should one balance the need to record image and sounds with the need to encourage citizens to participate in the process?

Another partner asks for suggestions about the best approach to an artistic intervention (in the public space) limited by several political and logistic constraints.

A fifth partner is having trouble to deal with the negative influence of some of the media in the relation to the audiences and to the funding of the projects.

And finally a partner asks for help in the process of staging a dramatic texts (with strong political connections), considering the copyright limitations and the fast shifting in the historical context.

In all situations the partners worked hard to find different solutions to the problems presented, sharing one with the others similar experiences in their own life history and countries.

I guess this is what building Europe is all about. Carlos Costa

In the second period of the day we meet the writer and political activist Susan George (whose work had already inspired an improvisation exercise the day before in a mix of parody and perspective change). Susan shares with the partners her point of view on the present crisis, which she considers dominated by a shift to a more American model, with less jobs and less welfare state, this leading to a world where it is more difficult to survive and where progressive ideals are abandoned. And although she does not believe in conspiracy theory, she exposes a system build upon the power of secrecy in which the special interests of financial and petrol companies are specially protected. A system that uses the “body subjects” (sex and food) to distract people from the essential daily politics (and here we can find of very special tuning between Susan Georg and our yesterday's guest David Irle).

And at a certain point we start dealing with the responsibility of artists in this context. Is art being used as a tool of the system to prevent political change? Is the narcissism of the artists giving more power to the narcissism of certain politicians? Anyway Susan George believes artist have all the required information and that they can have an important role in finding a way out of the crisis: as long as they remain both accurate and interesting; And also if they manage to find ways to be a part of the aggregation processes (between unions, informal political unions and some press and politicians) that she believes will change the world.

In the evening we all go to Theatre La Villette, for an open discussion with the artistic director Patrick Gufflet. A few days ago Theatre La Villete was ordered, by the “Mairie de Paris,” to suspend the activity and to close the doors. And in this hardship context, partners can discuss what strategies can be used to face the austerity national policies, considering that, for the cultural sector, the problems have come to stay.

We begin by a brief presentation of all the national contexts which makes clear some of the ignorance we still have, even within the European Union, about our own sector in the other countries. And we then try the exercise of thinking what could have been done in a different way if we had a “time machine” allowing us to travel back to the past.

Finally, and really trying to tackle the present situation, partners propose concrete answers to the current problems: A better articulation between national and European funding, the link between artistic practice and other cultural and pedagogical activities, downgrading the scale of the activities, aggregation of different actors for sponsoring purposes, getting closer to the Asian market, changing the management system to prevent activity from a total collapse and even pirate utopias build around art practice.

And before the evening is over we have a chance to try a "Livee" communication tool and to discuss the needs we have in this area and its relation with open source software.


 

Thuesday 27

11:00 Individual evaluation of the experience

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Group evaluation

15:00 Debate on the future meetings

16:30 Tea time. Closing of the Pace meeting.

In the morning session we have a group evaluation and in the afternoon session we fill the forms for individual evaluation provided by the hosting partner. In both cases the main aim is to already correct what we feel could have worked better so that the next meeting can be even better.

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