Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents UNA IMAGEN INTERIOR By El Conde de Torrefiel

The insights of Pablo Gisbert's texts are at times profound.

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents UNA IMAGEN INTERIOR By El Conde de Torrefiel

The text of Una Imagen Interior, a production by Spanish company El Conde De Torrefiel now in performance at Vedène's Autre Scène du Grand Avignon, is relegated to a bilingual surtitle board. Who does your mind cast in this role of narrator? A whimsical and childlike Björk might be appropriate. A resonant and poetic Maya Angelou might also work. My mind landed on the professorial tenor of David Attenborough. He was a good companion in a work that aspires to transcend "frames."

The piece begins with a large painted tarp on the stage. It looks either like a lesser Pollock or Rorschach's best. The tarp is raised for us to see. The surtitle board springs to life with word association. Words like "Stage," "Theatre," "Avignon," and "Heat" rapidly pass by. It then describes the stage action. We are then informed that we're at a museum and this work is thousands of years old. This painting is, importantly, not a work of religious meaning, but made for its own communal ends. We are introduced to a few of the museum guests milling about the stage. We are told what brought them there, their reaction to the art, and a bit about their personality.

The painting is removed for the second scene, which takes place in a supermarket. The surtitling ponders, "How did all of this get here? This world used to be a desert." An influencer is having a hard go of it with all their travel and stress. Two people chat; one presumes the other to be an employee. They leave the stage. It is at this time that abstract sculptures that resemble fleshy alien mounds buzz around. The first few are very small, though one is as large as a person. The word "Abstract" is added to the cavalcade of vocabulary flashing on the screen.

The text contemplates about "fictions." These fictions include politics, identity, and religion. It also includes more seemingly concrete things like shapes. "I don't believe the square exists in nature." I start to chuckle to myself as, at least in my mind, David Attenborough seems to have ingested more than he anticipated. A group of hip looking performers in shades and leather enter the space. These are the text's "friends." They hold their own ritual. Together they then spread out a white tarp on the ground and spray paint on it. The tarp is then folded, and squished, creating a painting that, I imagine, will open the next performance. It is raised for us to see.

The insights of Pablo Gisbert's texts are at times profound. His philosophy is a bit more undergrad stoner than Hamlet, but in that lays the charm. Manoly Rubio Garcia's lighting, particularly in how it transforms the painting in the start, is wonderfully poetic. It takes great advantage of the otherwise maligned "frames." Sound by Uriel Ireland and Rebecca Praga is more engaging and curious than almost anything you're likely to find in the US.

For a piece that is so adamant about releasing ourselves from constraint, we are never given much to aspire to. That the people in the museum and the grocery store were cold and distant is in keeping with the work's thesis. Though I couldn't sort out why everyone seems to have taken The Matrix's red pill as they, with much seriousness, spatter paint on tarp. The work advocates for intimacy and community, though in the end their cast members seem as distant from one another as museum goers. Is this coolness our reward for transcendence?

Photo Credit: Christophe Raynaud de Lage

TodayTix


From This Author - Wesley Doucette

Wesley Doucette is a PhD student in French Literature at the CUNY Grad Center. His research focuses include French cultural institutions such as the Festival d'Avignon and the innovations of ad... (read more about this author)


Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents THE LINE IS A CURVE By Kae TempestReview: The Festival d'Avignon Presents THE LINE IS A CURVE By Kae Tempest
July 28, 2022

The 76th Festival d'Avignon officially concluded last night with Kae Tempest's The Line is a Curve at the Cour d'Honneur. This is the fifth album by Tempest. Previous works include Brand New Ancients, which I had the benefit of seeing some years back at New York's St. Ann's Warehouse. Their work in that instance was a transporting piece of storytelling. It was a very sober affair. The Line is a Curve started that way, but quickly became the cathartic rock concert to end the annual Festival.

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents SILENT LEGACY By Maud Le Pladec and Jr MaddrippReview: The Festival d'Avignon Presents SILENT LEGACY By Maud Le Pladec and Jr Maddripp
July 28, 2022

Silent Legacy, now in performance at the Festival d'Avignon's Cloître des Cèlestins, asks questions about points of exchange. The relationship between the dancer and choreographer is complex. Literarily focused theatre's collaborative quality sometimes benefits from the boundaries made by script writing. In this way, the playwright has a product outside the performance. In most instances with dance, the work can only exist within the body of the performer. Silent Legacy presents its audience with two such points of exchange.

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents RICHARD II By Christophe RauckReview: The Festival d'Avignon Presents RICHARD II By Christophe Rauck
July 25, 2022

According to a poll taken in 2016, a little more than half of all British people have seen or read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. That number dips just below half for Macbeth and Midsummer. The Tempest rounds out the Top 10 at 22% engagement. Deep down in this list at 7%, tucked between Merry Wives of Windsor and Love's Labour's Lost, is Richard II. This obscurity was seen as a feature not a bug for Jean Vilar when he opened the first Festival d'Avignon with Richard II in 1947. Since this performance, the play has become something of a hallmark of French theatre. This year, Christophe Rauck adds his own directorial vision at the Festival's Gymnase du Lycée Aubanel with Micha Lescot in the title role.

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents DU TEMPS OÙ MA MÈRE RACONTAIT By Ali ChahrourReview: The Festival d'Avignon Presents DU TEMPS OÙ MA MÈRE RACONTAIT By Ali Chahrour
July 25, 2022

One of the most famous images of 20th century theatre is that of Brecht's Mother Courage who, when told she needs to remain incognito when her son is shot, offers a silent scream. In Ali Chahrour's Du Temps Où Ma Mère Racontait, now in performance at Avignon Université's Cour Minérale, Laïla Chahrour similarly unhinges her jaw into a scream, though it's anything but silent. Undergirded by musicians playing behind her, she cries into the audience, her voice rising into the starry sky. In the face of all the tragedy she has explored with her family, it is a resonating moment of catharsis.

Review: The Festival d'Avignon Presents LE SACRIFICE By Dada MasiloReview: The Festival d'Avignon Presents LE SACRIFICE By Dada Masilo
July 25, 2022

Choreographer Dada Masilo, a South African native, studied dance at Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's school in Brussels. While there she developed an appreciation for the grand patrimonial dance-works. Her company, Dance Factory Johannesburg, has made a name for itself through oftentimes-comedic deconstructions of European classics like Swan Lake, and Giselle. In Le Sacrifice Masilo has decided to address a different dance classic, Le Sacre du Printemps. It was a long road to the Festival for Le Sacrifice, now performing in Avignon's Cour du Lycée Saint-Joseph. The piece has been twice canceled due to Covid. While her movement vocabulary lacks in imagination, the performances themselves were thrilling.