Starfucker & Down Time

22.23/05 > 20:30
25/05 > 18:00
EN - 60'

Man of the theatre and writer Tim Etchells has joined forces with choreographer Meg Stuart to present their shared passions for one-man shows and fragments that cause dance to collide with stories, live with video material. Starfucker is pure and absurd fantasy, degrading and making fun of some Hollywood stars. Downtime is firmly based in reality and has Tim Etchells watching himself on video, a moment riddled with gaps, oversights and uncertainties, an opportunity of linking thoughts to words. Private room, I'm all yours and soft wear were all part of the Highway 101 project, which Meg Stuart and her Damaged Goods company have already taken to audiences at the Kaaitheaterstudio's and plan K's Raffinerie in 2001.

private room & I'm all yours & soft wear

Concept, text, choreography : Meg Stuart (private room in collaboration with Rachid Ouramdane)

Dance & performance : Meg Stuart

Sound design : Bart Aga (private room & soft wear) & Stefan Pucher (soft wear)

Music by : Scanner, DJ Spooky e.a./a.o.

(The material used in soft wear has originally been created with and performed by : Varinia Canto Vila)

Production : Damaged Goods

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods is artist in residence at Schauspielhaus Zürich (Zürich) and is supported by de Vlaamse Regering.

Starfucker & Down Time

Text & performance : Tim Etchells

Video footage Down Time : Tim Etchells

Lighting : Richard Lowdon & Ray Rennie

Administration : Verity Leigh

Marketing : Helen Burgun

Education : Eileen Evans

Press : Chris Lord (Karpus Projects)

Supported by : The British Council

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In Starfucker, Downtime, I'm all yours, private room and soft wear Meg and I had both already developed solo pieces which had similar concerns approached through related, but different means. Both of us were interested in the relationship between live and video material. In these pieces the video image provides the occasion for another act of projection in which the live performer speaks a text which forces or invites us to see the image in a new light. For each of us video is an on-stage element that can be read, played with, evaluated, narrativised but never fully controlled by text. Both of us were also working very much with fragments, and with the idea of transitions best described in filmic terms - the jump-cut, the fade and so on. Seeing Meg's choreography, for the first time (in Vienna, May 2000) I recognised something immediately – someone whose aesthetic was bound up with this sense of the fragment, with the stories that arise from the collision of unconnected images, sentences, movements, atmospheres. Meg was approaching this territory in text and in movement while in my own work I'd been dealing pretty exclusively with language. As we talked it became clear that the solos we had developed separately might sit well in dialogue together... different approaches to the landscape of self, body and language. The double bill arose from this impulse.

– Tim Etchells

I'm all yours, private room & soft wear – Meg Stuart

Throughout the 2000-2001 season, choreographer Meg Stuart and her Damaged Goods company were working with dramaturge Stefan Pucher and video director Jorge Leon to develop the Highway 101 project – a travelling production composed of a series of creations and performed in specific places. Each time the material (movement, images and ideas) encountered a new architectural context, it transformed itself and introduced new images, discoveries, questions and reflections. Private room, I’m all yours and soft wear are three solos that have lived lives of their own from the moment they were created.

Just as Highway 101 cut a path through different contexts, Meg Stuart creates in a world full of references to everyday movements and tics. Through extreme fragmentation and distortion, she challenges the control of the human soul and its desires, revealing the mask of actions that determines us.

In private room, projected onto a large screen, we see a young dancer sitting in an armchair. In front of the screen, Meg Stuart, who is sitting in the same armchair, comments on the man’s behaviour: “You’re not in the correct position”. Does the man know he is being watched by a surveillance camera, by a choreographer, by an audience? He seems not to want to know: desperately in search of privacy, he wants to escape being watched. He is defenceless before the camera, and under this all-powerful gaze his desire for privacy is mercilessly dissected.

“There’s no way of escaping being looked at by others. In I’m all yours, it’s like I’m being interrogated”, says Meg Stuart. She surrenders nonchalantly to the audience whilst trying to return the gazes directed at her. She plays with their gaze, she plays games until she becomes distorted and loses herself in a hundred and one different roles. “I have a well-determined appearance. I cut up bits of my identity and perform them out of context”. This is why she dances.

This game with identity and auto-manipulation allows her to express herself more sharply in soft wear. It is a solo based on the principle of ‘morphing’, a term used in computing for designating the transformation from one state to another. The images of Stuart’s body transform themselves continuously, the dancer’s familiar face twists itself into an obscene grin and this strange image immediately puts a distance between her and the audience. It is the tragic image of a body that will never dance quickly enough to see itself from behind.

– Jeroen Peeters.

Starfucker, Downtime – Tim Etchells

I was thinking about voodoo, at least of a version of it learned from bad movies - that you make a crude doll of the person and do things to it that then happen in real life. The doll as a means of control. For me, in Starfucker at least, the doll is the person’s name. I can make people do things just by saying their names.

In this sense language itself is a kind magic in which names function powerfully.

In Starfucker, by saying names, I make polaroids of events that did not happen. These unreal events can still be very tangible. At one moment in our performance Dirty Work the performer Cathy Naden says:

’The sheets are pulled back and the dissection of the corpses begins..’

Very often the audience gives a gasp at this point, as if they were really seeing what she describes. I’m fascinated with language in this sense that it makes things ‘happen’; summons events or objects into being, into the room, into the minds eye.

For Starfucker I started to make a list of images – imaginary pictures of Hollywood stars. The first was this: Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone sharing a shower.

I liked it that one could ‘see’ these people quickly and vividly, that the image ‘appears’ almost against ones will, or, at least, without effort. Our heads, apparently, have a place where an image of Bruce Willis is stored, and a place for an image of Sylvester Stallone. Our heads are full of these people, figures in a vast collective unconscious.

I liked being able to have these Hollywood stars in my ‘movie’ and not pay them anything. Of course in everyday life people do this all the time – make their own imaginary movies about being friends with De Niro or having sex with Winslet. In a way Starfucker is a version of this common and popular project, writ large, taken to extremes.

Stars put their names in the public domain. The names run riot through print and electronic media, leaving the real persons behind. Half of what is written under the sign of these names is not true – it is fantasy, exaggeration, publicity material, speculation. They cannot control the images we make of them. I have taken advantage of this situation to make a destructive, fabulous and hardcore imaginary movie called Starfucker.


Down Time is altogether more personal. It explores memory, the play between real and recorded time and the process of translating thought into language. In the performance a ten minute video of my thinking face is projected. As the tape plays I try to make a commentary which describes the unfolding narrative of the thoughts that were going through my head. By definition, you could say, this task is impossible. The work is conjecture and remembering, a confessional story-telling that is doomed to be fragments – thoughts, of course, always go faster and in stranger shapes than words.

Down Time relates to the strand of my work with Forced Entertainment which has used task to explore the processes of memory, ‘thinking’ and speaking in live performance. Typically in these works performers are faced with a job to do, in which the processes of their doing it (pauses, linguistic reversals, ‘stuckness’, paraphrasing, inspiration, repetition etc) are made visible and become a part of the subject of the work. With my face in close-up Downtime focuses even more sharply on thinking, the face being read in detail, as we read each other daily, for shifts of attention, discomforts, tics, eye movements and the many other readable-yet-ultimately-impenetrable signifiers of thought. In Downtime it’s my own silent face that must be read, a slither of my own past and my memory of it that must be scrutinised.

Down Time began from the instruction to myself to ‘think about goodbyes’. Beyond the instruction and arranging the camera I made no preparations at all. Once the ten minutes of thinking in front of the camera was done I made notes and tried to account for the sequence of my thoughts as best I could. I then watched the tape several times and tried to map the thoughts to the image, making alterations to my sequence as the evidence of the tape jogged my memory. Down Time is the result of this process – a fragment of real time grabbed, talked through and re-made in the present

– Tim Etchells.

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