paleo lear in South Africa

This is a little flash back.
This "show" was presented in Nirox, the art foundation in Cradle of Human Kind, South Africa, in april 2011.
But in spite of the delay, the general concept is quite unusual, and the pictures are very beautiful, so this is a short description of the whole.
To start with, in 2010 i realised in Nirox a series of short movies, videos, starring skulls, animal skulls, used as puppets. Each head was a character in the play A king Lear, by (more or less) William Shakespeare. I did that with no preconceived idea, i must say, the fact that these beautiful skulls were there, and that i was working on Lear at that time made me do that.

Regan & Goneril

It was quite interesting to make these bones move and represent the actions and words of these Renaissance characters. Technically speaking, i added the voices afterwords, voices made by the Vox vocal quartet, from Göteborg.

Vox quartet during the performance of A king, Lear

The whole skull Lear movie was used during a show presented in France in november of 2010. The show included singers (this Vox vocal quartet), the Diotima String Quartet, Miquel Bernat on percussion, and so and so.

In this show, the movies were integrated in the beautiful scenography by Jim Clayburgh, on movable screens ; the story was told by the narrator, Johanne Saunier, and the skull movies acted like a parody, or a double story line. The story was either sung, or spoken by Johanne (i couldn't set all the scenes in music), or shown on the screen through these movies.

A King, Lear, tutti

Then in april 2011 i was invited to perform in Nirox, thanx to the French Institute and i had the idea to actually perform the movies i shot, based on that concept :

Nirox Foundation allowed me to stay for a while and do precise and definitive researches in the Cradle of Human Sounds ; the results were beyond expectations : i discovered many forgotten species of animals, of sound categories, and even started to build a new taxinomy for them. My second stay, not earlier than last march allowed me to attend to unknown rituals in Nirox : every night and early mornings a number of animals (who explicitely requested anonymity) play the King Lear play, today known as written by William Shakespeare. I filmed some of these strange scenes, with a hidden camera.
No one can prevent me to think that these scenes are rigousrously similarly performed every day since the dawn of humanity ; in that case, Shakespeare didn't invent anything, but more, he attended some of these secret performances, on which he based his writing.
To imagine Shakespeare nervously recording these best repartees hidden in a bush at Nirox is a fascinating yet already controversial thesis, which i kindly leave to the discretion of the brittish specialists.
Regards from

Henry Jacques Glaçon

The form was the following : audience was invited to come to Nirox at 11am, and the show started at about 11H45. It had the appearance of a fair. I was the guide, taking people from one spot to another, on path ccarefully defined by Benji Liebmann, the owner of the place.

This is how Benji introduced the thing :

In 2008 William Kentridge introduced NIROX to Francois Sarhan, the composer and cellist. We got much more than we bargained for!
By the end of his first residency he had revealed a range of skills, intellect and wit that clearly positioned his art at the cutting edge – combining sound, stop-animation film, collage, painting, text and performance – with a result that defies categorization.
In 2009 Sarhan and his group CRwth introduced the fictional character Prof Glacon and his phantasmagorical Dadaist views on the world of music, to an unsuspecting public through a performance in the NIROX sculpture park, alongside a French picnic. Apart from spreading confusion all round regarding the history of music, the event was a resounding success.
Two years and several more visits to NIROX later, Sarhan returns to expose the ‘truth’ about the history of Shakespear’s King Lear. He is joined by members of the highly regarded percussion group ‘Drumming’, based in Portugal and comprising performers from across Europe.
Having studied the Paleo-anthropological history so richly preserved in the Cradle of Humankind (according to Prof Glacon, more correctly named the Cradle of Human Sound), Sarhan will reveal to the audience Prof Glacon’s discovery of Shakespeare’s inspiration, and perhaps his plagiarism?
Deep in the bush lie the secrets uncovered by Glacon. The audience will hear ancient sounds and watch strange beasts as it is led through secret bush paths – gratefully sustained with wine and a charcuterie lunch – to emerge enlightened, entertained, and satiated.

So the audience was walking in this paradisiac nature, and from time to time could see and hear a scene from Lear, performed by three awesome puppetiers, and the glorious Drumming percussion quartet, from Portugal.

There were about 6 scenes, and i explained a bit before, then music and performance.

The fun is to put musicians and puppeteers in strange positions.
And to suspend instruments and instrumentalists.


Popular Posts