On November 23rd I went to Leuven, Belgium (1/2 hour from Brussels) with some classmates from PARTS to see Why We Love Action at a theater called STUK. The work was by Mette Ingvartsen, a former PARTS student, who at a very young age has gained major acclaim as a choreographer. The work opens with an action-filled sequence of stunt moves from the movies. This all takes place on an entirely lime green set, with a backdrop, floor, furniture, blankets and pillows. Dramatic action, crying, mystery, and murder scenes from cinema are demonstrated. These cinematic moments are bare on there own, but gain a more cinematic feel with the use of loud sound affects and vocalizations made by people offstage for the performers onstage. The performers overact, which seems intentional, since replicating scenes from cinema is not the same as acting on stage. Maybe when one tries to imitate cinema in front of a live audience it becomes more apparent how ridiculous and false cinema is.
The construct of cinema is highlighted when elements are taken away or added. For instance, at one point the performers articulate the actions of crying, but cease from vocalizing the crying. It makes me think about the idea of going through the motions or crying, without crying. Stunt actions and dramatic scenes are embellished by repeating events, or by having multiple performers execute action. Things are often done longer than in the cinema or done in unison – maybe this is necessary in order to amplify elements that are so strong on film, but may not translate to a theater.
Like in cinema, the work is very episodic with blackouts between scenes. The piece seems over and then a film sequence is played, much like the ending credits in films. There is video of various clips from the rehearsal process of the work. Ironic mishaps are shown with people asking "are you ok?" during a choreographed stunt scene. Most of the time they are ok, except when one of the dancers actually gets punched in the nose – a choreographic error.
It's strange, as I'm writing this I'm debating whether I should reveal too much about the work. I usually don't have this question with other works, but maybe because of the cinematic references, I may subconsciously feel like I'm writing about a movie – but I'm not at all.