Partly inspired by Georges Perec’s radio play of the same title, since 2014, Orion and his collaborators have been working on a computer made of people entitled [THE MACHINE]. It is a work of ‘algorithmic theatre’ where, rather than a conventional fixed script, the performers apply a simple collective algorithm, transforming each other’s sounds, words and gestures into complex patterns and rule structures in real-time. More like a computer script than a traditional theatre script.
In this new version [THE MACHINE] replaces the four actors with four drummers in a hypnotising rollercoaster of rhythm and language travelling at the speed of thought. Output becomes input, producing an unending stream of absurd ideas under the imperative to copy, mutate and perform.
The research underlying the piece is the intersection of theatre and the study of complex systems in nature. This computer made of people suggests a continuity between humankind and machines. An algorithmic, combinatorial view of creativity, language, subjectivity, touchingly rubs up against the charismatic and ‘all-too-human-ness’ of live unscripted performance.
In so doing, [THE MACHINE] further exposes a seeming paradox between two fundamentally opposing views of power (and ontology): power-over (separation) vs. power-with (collectivity).
The performers are caught in a feedback loop: a cybernetic, moment-to-moment imperative to follow the rules of the algorithm. A kind of collective thinking imposed from above. Yet, a transformation to a very different kind of power emerges when a group of equals cease forcing their ideas upon each other, and seize their own agency by practicing listening and suggesting at the same time. Allowing others ideas and differences to pass through us, just as our ideas and differences propagate through others; of beginning something and seeing it continued and transformed through others.
The structure of the piece emerges differently each time it is performed. The tension will be in how the four drummers manage to balance these very different kinds of power and collective thinking.
Director / Programmer Orion Maxted Performers George Hadow, Guy Tristan Salamon, Jens Boutrery, Willem Wits Production DAS Master of Theatre, Amsterdam Previously funded by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst
As a starting point for this short solo, Courtney takes a metaphor for self-control; a rider taming a wild horse. She looks at the struggle between embracing one’s primitive desires, and regulating behaviour in accordance with societal pressures. Visual projections encapsulate Courtney within an octagon spanning 3.5m in diameter. Through a combination of poetry, dance, and song, she travels across landscapes of personal desires, memories, and conflicts. The space acts like a time capsule; intimate home videos are spliced with samples from YouTube, documentaries and old films. the pleasure of stepping off a horse when it’s moving at full speed is Courtney’s attempt to embrace the, sometimes messy, contradictions that make up a multifaceted human.
credits choreography, performance & visuals Courtney May Robertson dramaturgy Merel Heering outside eye Kristin de Groot & Yoko Ono Haveman technical support Edwin van Steenbergen trailer & video registration Paul Sixta press photos Anna van Kooij production Annejon Okhuijsen & Hanne Blomee PR & communication Carolien Verduijn music AAR - A01 & A02, Empty Set - Order, Cities Aviv - Title Piece, Death Grips - Disappointed produced by Dansateliers Rotterdam financially supported by Municipality of Rotterdam & Kickstart Cultuurfond with thanks to Bas de Geus, Adam Peterson & Nik Rajšek
This performance is part of Frascati Issues: The Gathering