> 20:45 & 22:30
Duration: +/- 60'
Fr & Nl
Come out of the black box. Dream of theatre with the city going by right in front of you.
German by birth, Anne Marina Pleis moved to Marseilles where she discovered the city by car, getting lost alone at night. She dreamt up a theatre project on the move - a physical and mental journey along the city's arterial routes. Taxithéâtre was created in Marseilles in 1999 and is being developed in Brussels in 2003.
There are eleven different cars. At the wheel is an artist, the creator of an hour-long itinerary, both geographical (in the city) and artistic (words, sounds and images...). Choose your programme. The engine's running...
Anne Marina Pleis
11 Projects by:
Pôm Bouvier - Charo Calvo/Johan Derycke -Berti Gonzalez - Cécilia Kankonda - Stefan Pastor - Pascale Pilloni - Edith Amsellem/Karine Jurquet/Pierrot Renaux - Jean-Marie A. Sanchez - George van Dam -Laurent Vignaux - Hilde Wils
Aurore Fruy, Alex Seminyachenka
Photo & Lay-out:
théâtre Vingt-Sept (Marseille)
Coproduction & Presentation:
KVS/de bottelarij, Théâtre de la Balsamine, Théâtre Les Tanneurs, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Association Française d'Action Artistique (AFAA) & l'Ambassade de France à Bruxelles Ville de Marseille, Conseil Général Bouches du Rhône, DRAC Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Partenariat La Marseillaise, So What Café, Théâtre du Point Aveugle, F.R.M Brussel, Brussels DowntownBack to top
A car awaits you.
As at the theatre you have switched off your mobile phone,
Then you leave. For an hour-long performance in motion.
Nobody asks you anything.
A journey. The streets unfold before your eyes,
The window is slightly open.
And perhaps here, the actor starts to speak.
Or maybe it’s the car radio.
Or maybe it's something completely different.
You listen… You watch…
And, gradually, the reality that surrounds you starts to alter.
Cloaked in unfamiliar colours.
Now you begin to dream of this city.
Anne Marina Pleis was born in Düsseldorf and then settled in Berlin to work. She set off for Marseille and planned to settle there, which she did after more than four years of nomadic wandering between Germany and the South of France. In 1991, she set up the Théâtre Vingt-Sept in Marseille and gave it this name because 2 + 7 make 9 like 'neuf' in French which also means new, or just because she prefers numbers to explanatory terms. But, throughout all her projects to come, each production has revisited one essential phenomenon that frustrates her in traditional theatres: the notion of unity. How to create the most favourable conditions so that the barrier (mental or physical) which separates actors and spectators diminishes until the presence of one merges into the expectations of the other as naturally as possible. This is how the taxitheatre project came about in Marseille in 1999. There have been two productions of it.
So Anne Marina Pleis has come back up the A6 motorway from the South of France and has arrived in Brussels with some of her actors to travel to every corner of this city, somewhat similar to Marseille with its multicultural population, to meet the actors here and to kick-start the adventure along carefully explored routes, with the added flavour of new suggestions for words, music and sounds from the Brussels artists. Along with the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, three other French and Dutch speaking theatres are becoming involved together on the outer edges of this odyssey and are co-producing this urban project, which originated in Marseille, but which they are ready today to introduce onto the roads of their own city: Théâtre de la Balsamine, Les Tanneurs and KVS/de bottelarij. Did Anne Marina Pleis mention ‘unity’?
What was the one detail, real-life, read or seen, that inspired the birth of the remarkable project, taxitheatre?
I love driving to the sound of the radio, being at the wheel and hearing these faceless voices, so close, so warm. Driving in the car fires the imagination, the night is even more enigmatic than the day. When I arrived in Marseille, I drove around a lot to discover the town and I liked not knowing where chance would take me. As a stranger in a town, all the everyday details are intriguing and capture your attention because you are always on the lookout and eager to absorb everything. This ceases to happen once things become familiar…
Plus, the car is a very personal space. Emotionally, I love it. Intellectually, I hate it. It is private property, expensive at that. And yet it is only useful in the public domain. Where do these current attitudes come from: everyone thinks that the highway code is for others, other people who relentlessly disturb and bother us on our journey. The highway code is however the regulating law which is essential in order for us to be able to share this public space in harmony. It always sends shivers down my spine when I think of the fact that the car has caused more deaths since its invention than the two world wars put together.
How did you become aware of this synchronisation between the car and the theatre?
The theatre also defends the idea of a public space and being for the public. I wanted to mix the rules of the private space which is the car with the rules of the public space which is the theatre, to welcome people to a point of public reception – a taxi rank – and then redisperse them in groups of two, three or four, onto individual paths, driven by the artist of their choice, transported along their choice of geographic and imaginary routes.
I like this idea that in the car, life stands stills, always unfolding before our eyes. This puts a different perspective on what is understood. Often, theatre performers want to make their mark on the world and society, but on emerging from the dark auditorium and months of rehearsals, this fine world may as well be Mars. If you are placed in a very everyday context and from the beginning you accept its rules, this does not prevent you from forging a common artistic theme, in fact quite the opposite.
I also like the fact that the audience taking part in a theatrical act, which is in essence public and which requires a certain expertise, is also confronted by the regulations of another public space, the highway code, and the technical skill involved in driving a vehicle well. In the car the public can access other dimensions: privacy, disorientation…I wanted to create a journey that sets a poetic process into motion.
It is like returning to our origins, returning to the very rudimentary things about the theatre. Confronting the other, this unknown, this stranger to us. We are not fooled. We know that we have paid to see an actor. There is no actual discrepancy, it must be more abstract, more cerebral. Seeing through the eyes of another…
What do you think is important to explore here within the theatrical form of this project?
I have always considered one detail in Galilei Galileo by Bertolt Brecht to be very beautiful. At one point in the middle of a banquet, Galileo gets bored. His gaze comes to rest on a chandelier swinging from the ceiling like a pendulum. This detail sparks off all the research which will lead to the proof that the earth rotates. Verfremdungseffekt ! The distancing effect! Alienation. In a paradoxically very familiar context. Inciting surprise, curiosity…
What sort of relationship do you want to establish with the audience?
The relationship with the audience is fundamental here. The audience is here to live, dream and feel but that is its right and it also has the right to be left in peace! taxitheatre is not an interactive project because the essential ingredient of its success is to listen, which is what the spectator who sits in the car is about to do. I would like the public to feel like a privileged interlocutor, being transported in comfort and feeling close to the sensitivity shown by each artist.
Here the spectator is moving and yet ‘motionless’ in the car, he is involved in the rhythm of dramatic art. There cannot be anything abrupt in this movement: the spectator must move with the same rhythm as the artist.
This is not face to face but side by side. Like a beautiful metaphor for human relationships. Each place in the car has its specificity; it offers a particular viewpoint and frames the outside world and the driver differently. You never see the same thing (and it is about more than the objectivity of being physically transported!).
An impression of Brussels…
A chaotic city! It seems like a concentration of different European cities. The logic of the streets becomes entangled, parallel roads, roads crossing into star-shapes and circular roads, road signs and signals direct everyone onto the main roads so as not to congest certain areas. Very different traffic systems work together. And Brussels is not the same Brussels from one district to the next, or even from one block of houses to the next.
A secretive city! In this chaos, you always get the impression that there are lots of hidden places, but not in the same way as Marseille where these are signposted as prohibited or there are barriers. All that hidden water! The winding Senne, a city historically constructed on the marshes…Some streets do not even exist on maps which have no doubt had to be simplified in order to be legible. A city where it is easy to lose one's bearings. A city where much of the population seem not to be there…Where are they all? They are not on the streets.
A city full of holes! The city is undergoing perpetual work which constantly changes and creates streets, sometimes until you can no longer find the place you are looking for even though it is only two steps away.
A city in the forest! Brussels has a very strong connection to the forest, Bois de la Cambre, Forêt de Soignes, forests cut up by the roads and motorways.
A city of contrasts! Top of the city/bottom of the city. Urban juxtapositions verging on science fiction: the Schuman European quarter, little Manhattan behind the Gare du Nord, short tunnels and endless tunnels, the great cemetery of Evere. A NATO-OTAN bus – that really exists in Brussels! The obscurity of the royal estate in Laeken and, right next to it, the surrealist vision of the Atomium which cuts into the sky…Back to top