Friday, 20 July 2018

To Have Done with the Dramaturgy of God: Fear No Colous @ Edfringe 2018

Fear No Colours
To Have Done With the Judgement of God
by Antonin Artaud

‘Remake his anatomy. Man is sick because he is badly constructed’

How many pounds of flesh does it take to feed a god? The Earth Mother Gaia is in chains, a flesh mechanic tasked with breeding men in infinite numbers to feed a war machine in the name of the modern gods. 

The battle between god and earth is unending, and in the barren wastelands between them, wretched bodies crawl across the ground in a savage howl from birth to decay. Helpless flesh is taught to move, to stand and walk and become the children of civilization, as the wheel of time continue its endless and torturous revolution.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the death of Antonin Artaud, and his invaluable contribution to modern performance practices, Fear No Colours are proud to present a new physical adaptation of his final, staggering masterpiece. The text was originally written as a radio play, but censored from broadcast due to its content being deemed blasphemous.

Julia Midtgard, director of To Have Done With the Judgement of God - Fear No Colours Theatre

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The text itself was, actually. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Artaud’s death, he completed the play shortly before passing, and while it’s been that long since he wrote Judgement, it sounds terrifyingly current. I say terrifying, as his vision of that time truly is harrowingly bleak. 

While it’s originally a play for radio, his language is so visceral that it seemed rather necessary to perform the text as physical theatre. There’re also echoes of radio in there, sonic spaces and sections in darkness, but the visual is absolutely key as well. I wanted to use his text to create a piece that could echo its own time as much as our time and the challenges faced in the scope of 70 years, while trying not to be didactic about it. 

Also, on a purely self-indulgent level, as a director you hardly get more exciting challenges than lines like ‘body without organs’ and ‘dance the wrong side out’. It’s so rarely performed, which I think is a shame, but that also adds to the desire to produce it.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Oh, I’d say absolutely yes. I think in a way theatre can be the very best space; even if the performance is preaching to the converted, as it were, a visceral experience can very easily heighten the stakes for the spectator and allow us to speculate as to why we feel so strongly about the issues raised. 

Theatre as an artform is unique in the way that it necessitates an exchange between the performer and spectator – the experience of the performance only exists in the spectator’s memory once the curtain falls, where it is filtered through their own frame of reference, influenced by their own thoughts and ideas, and thus emerges as something new as soon as we begin talking about it. That quality of liveness and ephemerality is hard to find anywhere else.

How did you become interested in making performance?

From mass consuming theatre, both as live performance and reading playtexts as a teenager, I was hugely fascinated by what theatre could do and particularly the ‘impossible’ theatre. Inevitably I realised that the only way to fully explore the possibilities and boundaries of performance was to start making it myself, so off the back of my MA degree I started Fear No Colours as a way to explore ideas and work with other artists with similar interests. 

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing performers and practitioners over the past four years, and have received wonderful support from the network around us, which I believe has been essential in bringing FNC where it is at the moment – bold, risk-taking practice exploring the forms of theatre we’re most passionate about.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Several! As difficult as it is at times, we’re aiming to take a step out of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty and move more towards Catastrophism and the neo-brutalist. While Artaud was quite keen on a shared audience experience, I’m more fascinated by the fractured and isolated experience of the individual as a means to free imagination. 

It’s challenging, as the text for the most part is so clear in intent – it’s quite overtly political – but we’re working to find spaces of open speculation, to not make it a matter of USA against the world, or searching for the individual truth in a world of lies, it’s far bigger than that. In addition we’re working from a wide range of physical practice, taking inspiration from everything from Laban to contemporary physical practice inspired by for instance Frantic Assembly and Gecko. 

And of course there are traces of Cruelty present as well – we’re aiming for a truly visceral experience and have spent a fair bit of time exploring rituals, dreams, ideographs and the tension between the individual’s inner and outer boundaries.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Very much so, our previous work has been largely based in contemporary British drama (Kane, Ridley, Ravenhill, Neilson) and Artaud is in a lot of ways part of the origins of that. At the same time, viscerality and individual experience has always been a very important factor in our work, so it’s almost a bit of an obvious choice to go with Artaud, to be honest. Hopefully our loyal audiences from the past will enjoy it as well.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I want our audiences to experience the performance entirely as their own, private moment. There’s no message really, there’s nothing specific we’re trying to say, but ideally it might be a space for people to speculate, to feel and to engage with their own thoughts on the world and how we interact with it. Ideally I’d love for every single spectator to come out with a completely unique idea of what they’ve just seen – something just for them. This is always my aim, and if we achieve that with Judgement, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

The text savagely tears into its time, its future and the very flesh of its creator, asking what it will take for humanity to free itself from perceived judgement, in order to finally ‘dance the wrong side out’.

Fear No Colours is a Glasgow-based theatre company committed to visceral and affective performance practice across disciplines. Following their critically acclaimed productions of Cleansed by Sarah Kane at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Mercury Fur and Dark Vanilla Jungle by Philip Ridley at the 2016 Festival, and the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award nominated Penetrator by Anthony Neilson at the 2017 Festival, the company returns again with their most ambitious material to date.

The company are also performing Bucket Men by Samuel Skoog at C Royale 

Listings Information
Venue: C too, St Columba's by the Castle, Johnston Terrace, EH1 2PW, venue 4
Dates: 2-27 Aug (not 13)
Time: 20:15 (0hr50)
Ticket prices: £9.50-£11.50 / concessions £7.50-£9.50 / under 18s £5.50-£7.50
C venues box office: 0131 581 5555 /
Fringe box office: 0131 226 0000 /

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