ISABELLE REYNAUD - Theatre, film, installation

ISABELLE REYNAUD

LISTEN TO MY AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS / HØR MINE FORBLØFFENDE FOTOGRAFIER

Site-specific Documentary-theatre in an urban space

Our history is a very important part of our DNA. It is part of the answer to all the questions in life, we might come up with. It helps us understand who we are, were we come from and why events occurred, the way they did.

History is also patterns of individual events put together in a pattern that makes the history of a family, a town, a region or a country.  The individual history, firsthand experience, made alive and relevant to all of us, is the history of everything else in another perspective. Countries are not built by kings but by the people, and the history of the individual person is the history of us all.

Listen to my Amazing photographs is a concept for passing on history  from a personal perspective, using personal photos, to an audience of chance, in an urban space. It can take any perspective and be histories of love, war, social class, political issues for a specific generation or what we might find interesting in a specific site, festival or performance situation. In any case it can be a mirror of how things we all take for granted, has changed life for previous generations in a different way, by emphasizing on different themes.

The concept:

A certain number of elderly people (around 70 years of age) are placed in urban spaces by x-number of storytelling-locations. We use locations that are already established such as benches, cafés, stairs, senior centers, etc.

Each of the elderly people has brought their photo album with them and invites two, three or more guests to take a seat. He or she retells – using their personal photo album – their life story or part of their life chosen from a specific angle / theme. Each story has duration of 20 minutes. After 1-2 hours, he or she is replaced by a new story-teller with a new photo-album.

The meeting locations are each decorated with an embroidered rug and with props specific of our time. This indicates that this is a place where the citizens have the opportunity to meet the city’s older generation in a familiar atmosphere, and listen to a personal story about life, death and the history of city and country.

Personal motivation:

I want to use the Documentary–theatre genre in the space of the city – to get the older generation out on the street, hear their stories and enjoy their experience. I miss their wisdom and here and there their strenuous conservatism. I miss someone to argue with! I miss the free souls, who are often braver than us – who are no longer bound by everyday hardships. I miss their sharp sense of humor. I want to create a real meeting between several generations. Through personal stories, I’ll make our history more alive and relevant, to enrich us and make us more whole!

LISTEN  TO MY AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS Aarhus Festival 2011:

On three different out-door locations in the centre of Aarhus city – you were able to meet ten elderly citizens in the hours from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening. Ten people, aged 67 to 94, with completely different backgrounds from factory worker to teacher, dentist and director of Coca-Cola. Ten men and women, who invited passersby into their lives. With their story-telling and photographs they enriched different generations with life experience and a new perspective on the recent past. This was achieved through a series of personal stories, which were all chosen from a specific feature: An error or something that went wrong but which later on led to something good, happy or very special.

With a few props and objects we created a hint of a living room, a home. The most striking element being a rug on which we embroidered “LISTEN TO MY AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS”. The rugs provided the outdoor space with areas of tranquility. Here the passersby could settle down spontaneously, listen and watch.

Festival-visitors, the citizens of Aarhus and many more welcomed us extreme. And despite the fact that we could not keep the spaces of the storytelling open every day, we had over 1000 spectators in 7 days that listened, laughed, felt and asked curiously. And we were repeatedly asked to export the idea to other places, cities and countries.

The spectators said:

“This is theater when it’s alive”

“Bringing several generations together in an observation and understanding of our recent history is a unique and surprising great idea.”

“It’s brilliant. May I transfer the concept to Brooklyn? – We could really use it ”

“We need to build bridges between the generations, to share seriousness and fun!”

Idea & concept: Isabelle Reynaud
Dramaturgy: Birgitte K. Kjær
Scenography & layout: Nina Jacobsen
Production assistant: Ann Beate Tangen

 

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