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Tramp

Timeline

Date

From 1972-03-15 to 1972-00-00

Place

Brussel, Les Halles de Schaerbeek, Grondwetstraat 18, 1030 Schaarbeek

Participants

Théâtre laboratoire Vicinal // Arthur Spilliaert // Frédéric Flamand // Alain Mebirouk // Rafael Godinho // France Joset // Anne West

‘Tramp is een woord uit Engelse oorsprong, maar als term uit de zeevaart krijgt het een internationale betekenis. Het is een vrachtschip dat op aanvraag het vervoer verzekert vanuit gelijk welk werelddeel in plaats van een regelmatige lijn te bewaren. Het heeft geen standplaats en men kan er alle richtingen mee uit.’ (Klara) ‘Five actors - three men and two women - stand motionless on top of a tall construction or scaffolding made of metal pipes. (It is an adjustable, wheeled metal scaffold of the type used by painters.) The five wear only simple white trunks, and the women have metal brassieres made from strainers. Each performer has a rope trailing from his neck. The spectators have all entered to take their places around the playing area. It is quiet. Moving in unison and reciting a text, the actors wrap their ropes around themselves. Then, no longer moving together, they swing and climb into various positions on the metal scaffolding. The text mentions the four basic elements, and the word ‘fire’ is heard frequently. One of the men leaves the platform and moves down onto the floor. A being – ‘a thing, not necessarily a man’ - has been born through fire out of chaos. The other four actors follow the first down onto the floor and take up props that have been placed around the space: two Belgian waffle irons with long handles and two old-fashioned clothes irons. They try to decide who or what the first man is. One says that he is a sailor; others suggest ‘a piece of dirt’, ‘garbage’. The four assume various relationships to the man. The waffle irons are used as masks to approach him. The man takes the props away from the others. Lifting the wooden platform from the scaffolding, three of the actors raise it above their heads; the fourth actor is lying on it. They form a monster. As the four chant, the board and the actor who lies on it are lowered onto the man who first separated himself from the group. The monster crushes the being, killing him. The wooden platform becomes a coffin of sorts. The actor lying on it is chanting. He is communicating with the dead being. Everything returns to chaos. From a grouping of all five performers on the floor, one of the actresses separates herself. A second being is born from the chaos. The girl climbs to the top of the structure. The other four lie on their backs under the corners of the scaffold, placing the wheels on their stomachs. Supporting the weight of the scaffold and the girl who is riding on it, the four move slowly along the floor. They speak about the sky being heavy, about the way being far, about the sun being always in their eyes, about there being no water. Finally, the crawl out from under the metal structure and, lifting it, do a tango. From on top of the scaffold, the girl blows into a section of metal tubing as if it were a horn. The actors remove the ropes that have been wrapped around their bodies. The other actors prepare for the alchemical marriage of the first and second beings, hoping that something good will come of it. The rope is taken off of the girl. A large metal tub appears, suspended in the air from four ropes. (…) The tub is placed in the center, and the man and the girl – the two ‘beings’ – stand facing each other in it. A canteen is placed between the man’s legs. The girl’s metal breast-plates are removed. Waffle irons are tied onto the man’s hands and placed against the girl’s chest. One of the actors wears the metal brassiere as goggles or glasses; the other holds the clothes irons to his eyes, exclaiming in an excited and pleased way as he views the couple in the tub. The second actress had disappeared. One of the ‘voyeurs’ blocks the view of the other with the board. Several times the man with the ‘binoculars’ moves, and each time his view is blocked. Finally, with the help of the scaffolding, the two men form a tall ‘totem’: Legs are seen at the bottom of the upright board, and a head appears at the top. The couple standing in the tub are ‘copulating’. They turn and cry out; the ‘totem’ waves its arms and legs. When they stop momentarily, an overturned tub similar to the one in which they are standing, slides toward them. The sounds begin to get shriller and higher in pitch. The canteen between the man’s legs is opened; water pours out. (During five brief pauses, the tub continues to advance.) The couple stamp more-and-more rapidly in the water-filled tub, now next to them, rights itself. The second actress is in it. It is a third being, the child of the first two. The other performers come forward to see what it is. One of them stands on the clothes irons and says that it has no feet. They discover that it is a fish. The girl from the tub smiles at the spectators and throws kisses: She is a fish/movie-star. The other actors load her with the waffle irons and the clothes irons. They explain that she has forearms on her shoulders, a belly full of water and a ridiculous tail. The ‘fish’ is put into one tub and covered with the other. One at a time, the actor ask mocking, childish questions of the girl in the tubs. (…) With ropes that they attach, the actors agitate the tubs. They try to make something better happen. The girl in the tubs stands with one of the tubs on her back. Her legs can be seen under it, and the iron props hang down. She waddles off, dropping the props. The other performers decide to plant the parts of her body to see if anything better will grow. They hang the props on the ropes. As they ‘plant’, the performers speak with increasing volume and in a more-and-more excited way, but the words/sounds are meaningless. Now all of the props are hanging from ropes stretched across the playing space. There is silence. The actors form a parade. The tubs are used as bass drums, and sections of the scaffolding become trumpets and cymbals. Then the performers spin with the objects on their backs. It is a "rain dance" to nourish the parts of the body that have been planted. Noisily, the props are banged to the floor. The "house scene" begins. The actors rearrange the scaffolding, tilting the platform board up at an angle: It becomes a roof. (…) With the five actors hanging from or attached to various parts of the scaffolding, the structure is pushed around the playing space. (Whenever possible, it passes over the first row of spectators.) (…) When it has returned to its starting place, the structure is disassembled. The house falls apart. ("The impression we're trying to give is not that we take it apart but that everything falls apart."-A.W.) The actors ask a series of questions in an excited manner. It is a housewreck or a shipwreck. (…) The scaffold is put together in a different way. One of the ladder-like sections rises above it and is held by two ropes. Perhaps it resembles a ship. Two actors lift the structure on their backs; the "sail" is moved by the ropes, and the sound of water in the tub is heard. (…)The scaffolding is disassembled, formed into a long ladder and placed against the balcony. The actors climb up and pull up the props. The ladder is pulled up, too, leaving the playing area bare. Carrying their equipment, the performers begin to exit.' (Kirby, 103-109)

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