TBA performances are winding down this week, so it seems safe to say: GERMINAL has to be one of the best performances of the festival this year. GERMINAL is a piece of theater, created by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort, that probably shouldn’t work. (I’m not sure what I like more: this performance, or the fact that they were able to pull this performance off.) The premise is four individuals, who, “if they had the opportunity to start the world from scratch, how would they do it”? It sounds like it would be a mess—just look at this chart they create during it—but it isn’t. Instead it’s actually really fun, playful, and smart.
GERMINAL begins in darkness, with a dim, searching spotlight on the stage. Soon the lights on stage are flickering, and we see our four protagonists seated, fidgeting with controllers. They realize through gestures that they are the ones controlling the lights. They live in a closed universe, we find out later, which is the empty stage. We follow them through the next 75 minutes as they learn how to voice their thoughts, classify information, understand finiteness, and establish laws of physics. And on that note, yes, I am aware of how boring this sounds. But you just have to take my word that it's a lot of fun. FOR INSTANCE: At one point our protagonists hack into the stage with a pickaxe and find a guitar, and a “manual” to their universe (also known as a laptop). At another point, they unearth a guitar amp, and a “swanky swamp" which is full of packing peanuts. (See? Fun.) The piece is mostly spoken in French, with English surtitles.
GERMINAL is about language, communication, meaning, and it’s about theater itself. There’s a lot of moments where it is a self-reflexive mind-fuck; it made me think back to early conceptual work, like One and Three Chairs by Joseph Kosuth—it’s a piece that explores the space between concept, meaning, and object. It's a piece that exists between the lines of theater, visual art, and theory, and in that way reminds me a little bit of that critical favorite The Method Gun, which was at TBA in 2011.
Tonight is the last performance of GERMINAL, and I so hope you were able to catch it. TBA is host to the U.S. Premiere of GERMINAL, however it will be at Seattle's On the Boards Festival next week before returning to France.