7, avenue Pablo‑Picasso
92022 Nanterre
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L’Effet de Serge - Nanterre-Amandiers

Photo : Martin Argyroglo

7 avenue Pablo‑Picasso
Nanterre, FR 92022

L’Effet de Serge

Conception, set design and staging

Philippe Quesne

En tournée
Création 2007
Premiered in November 2007 at the Ménagerie de Verre, Paris.

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: La démangeaison des ailes (The itching of the wings), Des expériences (Experiences) and D’Après Nature (From Life).
On stage are what Bresson used to call “models” and this time with Gaëtan 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 D’après Nature – 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 mini-shows 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 Gaëtan alias 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?