The Ventriloquists Convention
Who is taking part in a gathering of ventriloquists, the puppeteer or the puppet? At times comical, often icy, this dissonant piece probes the souls of the living and the missing. A shock.
Disturbing, mysterious, unsettling. The Ventriloquists Convention is a shock that packs a punch. Gisèle Vienne revisits the annual international convention of ventriloquists she had attended in Kentucky in this almost documentary re-enactment where nine ventriloquists and their collection of miscellaneous marionettes indulge in strange rites, transforming reality into a strange fable. Just who is taking part in this annual gathering of ventriloquists, the puppeteer or the puppet?
After Jerk, the French-Austrian artist joined forces with Dennis Cooper and Jonathan Capdevielle to create this clever game of duality and dissociation where what’s true and what’s false merge together. This extraordinary artist, director and choreographer toys with the twists and turns of the psyche and human neuroses in this hyper-realistic fiction. Her orchestration and her puppetry are astounding, as is the skill of the puppeteers from Puppentheater Halle of Germany who incarnate this motley, touching group of humans. At times comical, often icy, this dissonant piece probes the souls of the living and the missing. Subversive.
Produced by D.A.C.M. + Puppentheater Halle
Created and directed by Gisèle Vienne
Written by Dennis Cooper in association with Performers
Co-created and performed by Jonathan Capdevielle + Kerstin Daley-Baradel + Uta Gebert + Vincent Göhre + the performers of Puppentheater Halle including Nils Dreschke + Sebastian Fortak + Lars Frank + Ines Heinrich-Frank + Katharina Kummer
Lighting design Patrick Riou
Music KTL – aka Stephen O’Malley + Peter Rehberg
Co-produced by Nanterre-Amandiers – Centre dramatique national + Festival d’Automne à Paris + Les Spectacles Vivants – Centre Pompidou + Centre dramatique national Orléans – Loiret / Centre + Le TJP – Centre dramatique national d’Alsace – Strasbourg + Maillon – Théâtre de Strasbourg – Scène européenne + La Bâtie – Festival de Genève + Internationales Sommerfestival – Kampnagel (Hamburg) + Kaserne Basel + Le Parvis – Scène nationale de Tarbes Pyrénées + Theater Freiburg + Bonlieu – Scène nationale Annecy through the project DIPTIC supported by the European Territorial Cooperation programme INTERREG V-A France-Suisse 2014-2020 + humainTROPhumain Centre dramatique national de Montpellier + Fidena Festival (Bochum)
With the support of Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Halle) + Pro Halle e.V. + Saalesparkasse (Halle) + Fachausschuss Tanz und Theater Basel-Stadt – Basel-Landschaft + Institut Français through the program Théâtre export + Bureau théâtre et danse – Institut Français d’Allemagne + Association Beaumarchais-SACD Paris through Programme d’aide à la production + Services Culturels de l’Ambassade de France à New-York
Presented with the support of Institut français + Service de coopération et d’action culturelle du Consulat général de France à Québec in association with Goethe-Institut Montréal
Premiered at International Summer Festival, Hamburg, August 14, 2015
Gisèle Vienne + Dennis Cooper + Puppentheater Halle (Halle + Strasbourg)
A choreographer, puppeteer, director and painter, the French-Austrian artist Gisèle Vienne employs all these forms in her work. After studying philosophy and music she trained at the Ecole Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette where she met Jonathan Capdevielle, her long-time collaborator.
The Haunted Theatre
For the past dozen years her theatre work has been imbued with silent images that cast a spell. At age 39, this uncompromising artist has an impressive track record consisting of strange and disturbing works that question our troubled rapport with our fantasies, as well as vexatious human relations rife with manipulation, domination and violence. Her recent pieces include This is how you will disappear (2010) and The Pyre (2013).
Pursuing her research on the complex relationship between body and voice, in The Ventriloquists Convention she has created a series of portraits of ventriloquists that examine our collective psychology by experimenting with embodied and disembodied states. This is her first piece to be invited to the FTA and also marks a new phase in her collaboration with the American writer Dennis Cooper. She has often worked with him in the past, notably on Kindertotenlieder and Jerk, which were presented respectively in Montreal at Usine C in 2014 and at Théâtre La Chapelle in 2010. Performed by Germany’s Puppentheater Halle and other artists, including Jonathan Capdevielle, Kerstin Daley-Baradel and Uta Gebert, The Ventriloquists Convention is one of Vienne’s most accomplished works, a piece where the spectacular and the bizarre threaten our comfortable feelings of normality.