On the 16th June 2016, UQAM students (University of Quebec in Montreal) presented their findings after a four-week workshop centred on onstage presence in relationship with clothing and its puppetic variations.
When does the piece of clothing that I wear start taking its autonomy, turning into a phantom yet palpable presence? The phenomenon can take place in its hugging of the body’s folds, the brushing perceived by the legs or the support that reassures the hips.
Am I wearing the clothes or do they keep me upright and shape the way I walk? What outgrowth perched on my shoulder makes me believe it is a silent observer, what oversized overcoat gives me the appearance of a sea mammal, what starched collar petrifies me into a statue, what corset transports me back to times when women were pale and submissive ?
A puppet starts to come alive when a person is in physical contact with a material and lets it guide him or her, listens to it and then seizes it to tell a tale: a glove thrown on a table before it is picked up again, a cape in the wind, a waist cord can easily transform into performing partners. One simply needs to take a bit of distance - both physically and mentally – from a piece of clothing for it to gain autonomy and come to life.
Nearly all wardrobe constituents carry an emotional charge: some have played a big part in our reassurance or audacity, our seduction attempts and failures, some have been inappropriate or superfluous. It happens within the tension between the conscience of the conveyed image and the intimate feeling.
To give this fantasized connection a scenic form by transposing, articulating it to reveal its strong points and shareable emotions (and actually leave fantasy behind) is what was at stake here, what the workshop brought into play. Clothing is taken into account from the physical preparation at the beginning of the day, e.g. with the intention of mobilising one’s attire through contact with the skin. It is then integrated in composition exercises where the garment plays the trigger role or that of “dimmer”, with the same scene being executed in different outfits for instance. Improvising is the next step, individually, in groups or often in duos: dresser and dressed, chimaeras, conjoined twins.
Concept Nicole Mossoux
Performers Noémi Bélanger, Céline Chevrier, Elise Ducrot, Guillaume Ethier, Flavia Hevia, Victoria Jehanne, Marie-Eve Lefebvre, Shawan Lesser, Julie Peters-Desteract, Laurence Petitpas, Claudine Rivest, Marcus Tissier, Kristina Trostke and Cécile Viggiano
Assistant and stagehand Geneviève Boileau