In his little lowrise apartment, Serge cobbles together one-minute special effects shows that he puts on for his friends on Sundays.
And to say the least Philippe Quesne is economical in the way he handles the dramatic side: not many effects of acting, technique or speech. Plaster sheet walls, a French window opening onto a minigarden, a scrap of carpet, TV and hi-fi, a pingpong table – these are the props he already recycles from other shows: The itching of the wings, Experiences and From Life. On stage are what Bresson used to call "models" and this time with Vourc’h soloing as the fictional Serge. Dressed up as a astronaut, Vourc’h tells the audience how things work at Vivarium Studio: "Usually, you start shows with the beginning of the last show's end. Last year I was acting in a show which ended with me, like this, dressed up as an astronaut. There were several astronauts. Here, I'm going to act in "L’Effet de Serge" It's about Serge's life. It takes place at his place." Then Vourc’h shows us where artist/project originator Serge lives.
But what's the genda of an artistic method based on cheap minishows done for a handful of friends? Quesne brings an amused eye to bear on what could be one of the current professional rants: the apology for low-budget projects (whereas some theatre keep on with too much money). Unfortunately the ranters' urging of bricolage doesn't extend to what we might call the aesthetic principle of a post-poor theatre whose poverty consisted in cutting back on theatrical artifice in favour of a poetics of acting; rather it's an economic argument rooted in cultural politics. Serge doesn't rely on effects, but Quesne's show has its effect. As always he comes up with exhilarating, critical theatre revolving as much around theatrical aesthetic codes as contemporary issues.
Right now the first steps on stage of Serge, dressed up as an astronaut, represent a highly significant entrance: might the artist in fact belong on another planet, so much does he seem to consider his peers with the eye of a being apart, one freed of all material concerns ?
Consept, direction and scenography: Philippe Quesne. With: Gaëtan Vourc’h, Isabelle Angotti, Rodolphe Auté, Alexandre Diaz and local guests. Production: Vivarium Studio. Co-production: Ménagerie de Verre - Paris with the support from Le Forum - scène conventionnée de Blanc-Mesnil and Festival actOral montévidéo – Marseille. Vivarium Studio is supported by: DRAC Ile de France (French Ministry of Culture). Support by: CULTURESFRANCE.