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Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes (1992)

PHOTOGRAPHY  /  CREDITS  /  REVIEWS

© Ann Lindberg© Ann Lindberg© Ann Lindberg
  

"So you haven’t gone through any major personality change, you’re still exhausted. You’re reminded of her every time the police drags someone away on the news ... its probably the way they look into the camera... Well, maybe you could send her a postcard from somewhere, doesn’t matter where, every place you took her to reminded her of some other place she liked better anyway."

"The woman had a snake she called Elvis, and she used to scare the kids with it. ‘Hey, come on, Elvis don’t bite”."

"Okay. So now you’re stuck in one of those low-budget road scripts, where you don’t get anywhere, never get to meet anyone, and end up talking to yourself into a tape recorder... February 17th. Dressed up for room service."

 

 

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Laub
Music Larry Steinbachek
Scenography Michael Laub
Lighting Charles Atlas
Text Daniel Halfen, Michael Laub

Additional text by Remote Control Productions

Production manager Magnus Borg
Technical director Kamal Ackarie
Sound design Magnus Borg
Technical production Anders Österberg
Assistant director Per Flink-Basse
Stage manager Jakob Juhlin
Production assistant Camilla Juiner
Administration Isak

Performers Kirsty Alexander, Jennifer Baerselman, Pascal Brannan, Dick Crane, Hilt De Vos, Charlotte Engelkes, Per Flink-Basse, Eva Gustafsson, Daniel Halfen, Luise Kvarby, Michael Mansson, Sandy Mansson, Marta Oldenburg, Dean Proctor, Gun Öhman



Produced by EXPO ’92 (Seville). KAAI Theater (Brussels), Dansens Hus (Stockholm)
Co-produced by Bergen International Theatre, Bergen
With support from Statens Kulturrad, Svenska Institutet, Moderna Museet

 

 

PRESS

Knut Ove Arntzen, Theatre Research Institute, University of Bergen, Norway, 1992
Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes is the final part of a trilogy resulting from the collaboration between director Michael Laub and composer Larry Steinbachek. The first two segments comprise Rewind Song and Fast Forward / Bad Air und so ...
Laub founded Remote Control Productions in Stockholm in 1981 in order to further his investigations into multimedia and performance arts. A Belgian, he had previously been based in Amsterdam after setting up Maniac Productions with Italian artist Edmundo Za. Together they created various art videos and minimalist performance pieces.
Laub has been producing his plays with funding provided by Stockholm’s Modern Art Museum, the Stockholm House of Culture, and the House of Dance Foundation.
His Return of Sensation, invited to the 1984 Venice Biennale, dealt with themes from daily life. Quotes were lifted from pulp magazines and thrillers. Stereotyped characters were caught up in tightly controlled patterns of movement. Video was integrated with the live stage performance.
Starting with Rewind Song he broke off his use of video. But mass-media influence could still be felt throughout the work, whether in the choreography of his freeze-frame tableaux, or in the acting out of petty, (melo)dramatic situations, often into microphones. Steinbachek’s film-score-inspired compositions, and texts by performer Daniel Halfen and Laub further underlined the prevalence of this influence.
The tension between stage dramatics and media intrusiveness would continue to characterise the trilogy’s centrepiece, Fast Forward / Bad Air und so... A woman strangles a man who calmly gets up after he makes a death rattle into a boom mike. An elderly-lady sarcastic reaction is all it merits. Postmodern elements, such as a toga, appear in one scene only to be dismissed in the next. This ambiguities in no way detract from the intensity of the characters’ situations, nor from the dramatic stage imagery. Part of Laub’s strategy is to take clichés more seriously than they were ever intended to be. In so doing, he uncovers much of the beauty, as well as brutality, of contemporary life.

Margaret Ljunggren, Aftenposten, Oslo, 04.06.1992
Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes is the last piece of a trilogy about Jack and his flighty, murderous girlfriend Charlotte, of which parts one and two were performed in Bergen in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Black Box Theatre has transported Remote Control Productions to Oslo for an avant-premiere prior to the opening of the internationally commissioned piece at the Seville World Expo on June 14th.
It is debatable which of them is the most incarcerated – fatigued Jack on an endless search for experiences he never finds (he’s tired to such a degree he even dreams about how tired he is, and he gets dressed up for room-service – if he can force himself to order) or Charlotte in the women’s penitentiary (where she tries to strangle someone when she not indulging in lesbian sex). But the fact that the 15 actors from seven countries succeed in keeping the audience captivated for almost two interrupted hours is quite a feat in this restless age.
But then, the choreography and direction of Michael gives no occasion for boredom. The actors flow on and off stage in constant motion between dance, speech and images. You can never foresee what will happen next. Sometimes it’s uncertain whether what you see is front-page news, film noir, or tabloid press.
Today’s society is observed with acid wit and presented in the guise of the dominating language of the day – rapid, clichéd images.


Le Soir, 06.11.1992
(...) The fascinating complexity and terrifying realism of each of the characters created by Michael Laub in Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes, captivate our total attention and deeply touch our emotions. Michael Laub and his collaborators have been most successful in leading us to the heart of an intimacy we often don’t dare to investigate.

Claire Diez, La Libre Belgique, Brussels, 14.11.1992
(...) Michael Laub is a refined magician. His work explores various aspects of human nature with the sharpness of a razor blade while he smiles at his peculiar characters.

Edith Boxberger, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 01.11.1992
Michael Laub once again presents a highly artificial situation, where the boundaries between trash and art, triviality and taboos, naked subjectivity and worn out clichés disappear while exaggerated idiosyncrasies mix with pseudo reality. True life continues behind narrow walls. The traveller only meets the shadow of his voyage on earth... The music of Larry Steinbachek gives the play its dual structure: an invisible link between the minimalist dance scenes and the murderous attacks. The static world of the asylum starts moving when the women express their desires and pick up the axes.

Rosalia Gomez, ABC, Sevilla, 16.6.1992
It’s the artificial and antisentimental rhythm of Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes that elevates the banality of the actions and offers an unexpected seriousness to the ordinary daily gestures that constitute the show.

Inger-Margrethe Lunde, Klassekampen, 4.6.1992
Tonight is the last chance of a rare experience. Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes is a hi-tech inspired performance on its way to the Seville World Expo. Remote Control is the only Nordic representative together with the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Stockholm. A man reads from his diary. He travels from hotel to hotel. ‘I am alone in my room.’ Apathy and disillusion, grey on grey. Without expression, without a superfluous word, he stands there. He could as well die. He doesn’t – it probably wouldn’t be worth the trouble. (...) Gradually the actors come forward. They become individuals, depersonalized though they may be. Brutality, loneliness, dark insanity hides just beneath the surface hinting at its present. The feeling harbours something inexplicable.