No excerpt is going to come close to preparing anyone for the full 24-hour performance. But, if you’re curious, here’s about 5 minutes for a sneak peak.
Richard Schechner on Jan Fabre
Fabre’s group was “existing” and “doing” in the big space, not “acting.” They were absorbed into themselves.
Blood, Mud, Glitter
A quick refresher on who’s who in Greek tragedy, and more in-depth looks at some of the plays Mt Olympus draws on. Plus, a handy family tree.
- Agamemnon: After winning the Trojan War, Agamemnon returns with Cassandra, his war prize, to be killed by his wife, Clytemnestra.
- Agave: The mother of Pentheus and the murderer of Pentheus.
- Ajax: Ajax, swindled out of Achilles’ armour, resolves to kill Greek leaders, Agamemnon and Menelaus, but Athena tricks him to take out his anger on sheep and cattle. Embarrassed, Ajax uses Hector’s sword to kill himself.
- Antigone: Oedipus’s sister/daughter. Because she buries her brother, she is buried alive and commits suicide before she can be rescued.
- Cassandra: A prophet whose curse is that no one ever believes her.
- Clytemnestra: Agamemnon’s wife who kills her husband as revenge for sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia. Later, she is killed by her son, Orestes.
- Creon: Creon punishes Antigone by burying her alive. Surprise: all of his family members commit suicide.
- Dionysus: The god of wine, theater, and losing one’s inhibitions in social settings.
- Electra: She hatches a plan with her brother Orestes to kill their mother, Clytemnestra.
- Helen: The face that launched a thousand ships.
- Iphigenia: Daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon who is sacrificed for favorable winds to sail to Troy.
- Jason: He ditches his wife, Medea, for Glauce. Big mistake.
- Jocasta: Mother and wife of Oedipus, who also commits suicide.
- Meanades: The female followers of Dionysus. They sing, dance, and have orgies in the forest.
- Medea: Ditched by her husband Jason, Medea concocts a revenge plot and kills their children to punish Jason.
- Narcissus: He fell in love with his reflection after he rejected Echo. Such a narcissist!
- Odysseus: He goes on an odyssey. Obviously.
- Oedipus: King of Thebes, who was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. It’s enough to give anyone a complex, really.
- Orestes: Son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon who kills Clytemnestra for killing Agamemnon. Yikes. Also, he is haunted by the Furies until Athena holds a trial that exonerates him.
- Pentheus: The arrogant king who refused to worship Dionysus. He’s no fun.
- Phaedra: She falls in love with her son, Hippolytus, because of Aphrodite’s curse. She botches her suicide note, which leads to Hippolytus’ death.
- Tiresias: The blind prophet.
Current and former members of Troubelyn accused director Jan Fabre of sexual harassment in September 2018, raising questions in relation to #MeToo in dance, theatre, and performance art. The New York Times covered this story, which has received less attention in the US than Europe, perhaps because Fabre rarely shows work in North America.
Read some of the European coverage to get up to speed. These links are from Belgium-based magazine Rekto:Verso, including an article from last November about the effect of #MeToo in European dance scenes; the open letter from company members; and a statement signed by 150+ choreographers, with generous, generative questions about how arts communities move forward from here. You can read also Troubelyn’s first response to the open letter, also on Rekto:Verso, and a more recent statement that can be found on their website (archived here Nov 5, 2018), with updates on their internal processes in the wake of these events.
What’s 3 hours of video in preparation for a 24 hour performance? This spring, CUNY’s Segal Center presented a 2-day symposium with Hans-Thies Lehmann, in celebration of his important text Post-Dramatic Theatre. These two evenings, generously archived online, featured conversations between scholars including Marvin Carlson, Elinor Fuchs, Brandon Woolf, John Jesurun, Uwe Mengel, Molly Davies, Peter Eckersall, Jonathan Kalb, Carol Martin, Melissa Wansin Wong, & Frank Hentschker.
Sitting out Mount Olympus? There are other 24+ hour performances out there to experience, if you have the stamina. Learn more about Julie Tolentino’s A True Story about Two People, and Forced Entertainment’s Quizoola and Who Can Sing a Song to Unfrighten Me? — or, go even longer-format with Tehching Hsieh’s multiple year-long performances (and one 13-year performance), or a rendition of John Cage’s Organ2/ASLSP that’s been ongoing for 17 years and won’t finish for another 622. The next note is scheduled to change in 2020; you can see the full schedule here.
And check out a very small fraction of Taylor Mac‘s performance art concert, A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.