human voice. translations
Play in 3 acts
In situ, eglise Saint-Eustache, Paris
upon invitation of Ekaterina Scherbakova / the voyerist
with Ekaterina Vasilyeva
Human voice. Translations is a mis-en -scene of the «The Human Voice», the play by Jean Cocteau (1930). A virtual - distance technological performance in three acts performed during the day cycle of 24h before the total solar eclipse. It took place in Church Saint-Eustache, on March 19-20th, 2015, and can be reperformed..
The mise-en-scene of Jean Cocteau piece «Human Voice» takes place in a church, which is a place of connection, where the one who speaks is a medium of the voice of the Other, and where the one addresses to someone who is present and absent at the same time. Meanwhile the two protagonist, the performers, are located in different countries, one in Paris, another by the sea. Yet they interact in the Church through the physical presence of their voices via Skype. The performance consists of three parts which happen during the period of 24 hours.
In the initial play by Jean Cocteau there’s only one character who is present. It is a desperate woman, whose man left her. She is talking on the phone, and from her monologue we gather some fragments of the plot. Apparently, she is talking to her ex-lover and threatens to commit a suicide, while he tells her he is about to leave to the seashore with his new lover. The mis-en-scene reveals the events of the play by Cocteau from the point of view of the third character, who is a phantom and never appears in Cocteau play in person, but only exists through the voice of the protagonist.
24 hours before the total solar eclipse
On a table in a church there is a laptop. It’s monitor is black.
Suddenly a Skype call occurs. Hanna is calling from abroud, she is by a seashore.
Her call is responded by a woman in the chruch.
With unemotional, impersonal voices the women exchange utterances. This conversation might look like a real dialogue, but in fact Hanna is reading news from different online media about the forthcoming total solar eclipse, while her interlocuteur is reading reviews on the first mis-en- scene of the <Human voice> by Jean Cocteau at Comedie Française in 1930.
Hanna is <predicting> the inevitable astronomic future in the setting of eternal natural vibes of sea movements. Her skype-partner is narrating a <legend> from the past in an empty stillness of the temple.
<Tomorrow the 20 of March 2015...>
<Yesterday the 16 of February 1830...>
The two events, one from the past, another from the future - intersect through a gadget of virtual connection
Hanna: A total solar eclipse will occur on Friday march 20 2015. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for the viewer on Earth.
Katya: Yesterday the 16 February 1830 the theatre of La Comedie Française was invaded by the surrealists, adversaries of Jean Cocteau. This is the price that the theatre must pay for betraying traditions. Yesterday a private rehearsal of «Human voice» took place, before the full-rehearsal for the critics. The public didn’t look like the habitual one of the Comedie Francaise.
Hanna: A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is larger then the diameter of the Sun, blocking all direct Sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, and the partial solar eclipse will be seen on surrounding territories thousands kilometers wide.
Katya: Yesterday the 16 February 1830 mister Pablo Picasso himself came to the theatre, dreaming of a day when he would be asked to change his repertoire. Mister Valdemar Georges was enchanted by the feeling of extramundane.
Hanna: Tomorrow March the 20th 2015 the magnitude of the totality will be 1045 kilometers. The longest duration of totality will be 2 minutes 47 seconds on the coast of the Faroe islands. It is the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe until the next one which will happen the 12 of August 2026.
Katya: Yesterday the 16 February 1830 in the silence of the stage Madame Berta Beauvie picked up the phone to hear the voice of her man, and started her monologue. All of a sudden, the moment when the actress pronounced several passionate words, a voice from the audience appeared. It asked if this extended monologue was given to a call from one young sailor, a close friend and a protegé of Cocteau. The french surrealists appeared in the theatre in the person of Paul Eluard , who was welcomed by ones and damned by the others. Mister Leon Bernard teared off his head, insulted by the fact that someone is wearing a headgear in theatre.
Hanna: At the end of its path the shadow of the Moon rises from Earth surface to the space at the North pole. As March 20th is a an equinox the eclipse occurs as the Sun rises at the North Pole after 6 month.
12 hours before the total solar eclipse
The hall of the church. In the setting of a medieval temple, under a painting go the Last supper, a table stands. There are two laptops facing each other on it. Their screens are black. People start to come to the hall and approach the table.
One of the laptops starts to Skype ring. It rings for quite a while, until some- one from the audience decides to answer. A young woman Hanna in a pink dress, lying in a bed, appears on the screen. She is waiting for her friend to appear «in this place» to talk about her lover. The second laptop is Skype ringing. the «friend» appears on the screen, she is in a Parisien residence, while Hanna is in a hotel not far from the seashore.
The woman in pink dress, Hanna:
Hello! … Hello ! What are those voices? I am in Riga, in Yurmala, by the sea. Hello? It’s not my fault! Do you hear me now? I’m in Latvia. Latvia, yes. The hotel name is Gertruda. «Не пей вина Гертруда, пьянство не красит дам!» (sings in russian: Don’t drink the wine Gertrude, it doesn’t make women prettier). Unfortunately, I cannot translate that into any language. It is a heart song. Well, anyway… I am waiting for Katya. We were supposed to meet here. In this place. I want to tell her something about my man. I’m waiting for his call to catch him after his shooting and to go for a dinner. So I wanted to talk to her before I leave. Hello? Do you hear me? It’s not my fault! It’s the connection! Hello?
At some point another laptop starts to Skype ring. There is Katya on the monitor of the second laptop.
Hanna: Hello ! Katya? Hello! I don’t have much time. I just wanted to tell you about my man. I’m waiting for a call from him. We are traveling and it is so nice.
Katya: Salut! Salut! Je n’ai pas beaucoup de temps. J’ai voulu te parler de mon copain. Nous sommes en voyage et c’est formidable.
Hanna: Yes, about my man. He is shooting in a movie here. He is an actor.
Katya: Oui, de mon mec. Il est comédien, il est en tournage ici.
Hanna: He is about to finish. And we will go for a dinner. I am ready for quite a time and waiting for him. I thought I could call you meanwhile.
Katya: Il est en train de finir. Après on va dinner. Je suis prête depuis longtemps et je l’attends. J’ai croyais qu’en attendant je pourrais t’appeler.
Hanna: To be honest with you I doubt if i should go.
Katya: A vrai dire, j’hésite si je dois aller.
Hanna: You know we have wonderful time here.
Katya: On passe du bon temps ici.
Hanna: We walk around the city, drink wine and make love.
Katya: Nous nous promenons dans la ville, nous buvons du vin, nous faisons l’amour.
Hanna: We are completely happy.
Katya: Nous sommes complètement heureux.
Hanna: Yesterday I woke up in the morning and he brought me tulips, just like that, with no occasion. Isn’t it beautiful?
Katya: Hier quand je me suis réveillée il m’a offert des tulips. San aucune occasion, comme ça. C’est tellement sympa, n’est-ce pas?
Hanna: I don’t know… At the same time I feel that his happiness is eclipsed by something. He is never truly joyful.
Katya: Je ne sais pas vraiment… Cependant je sens que son bonheur est éclipsé… Il n’est jamais pleinement joyeux.
Hanna: He is a very sensitive man. He is an artist.
Katya: Il est très sensible, il est artist.
Hanna: In the first place he is sensible to cosmic events. To the movement of the Sun and the Moon, for instance.
Katya: Dans le premier lieu il est sensible aux phénomènes cosmiques. Aux mouvements de la Lune et du Soleil, pas exemple.
Hanna: Tomorrow there will be a total solar eclipse, and he will go mad.
Katya: Deamin il y aura une éclipse totale du Soleil. Il va devenir fou.
Hanna: I really don’t know what to do. You know, as they say, if he left his wife, he will leave me for sure. He is a betrayer.
Katya: Je ne sais pas vraiment que faire. Tu sais, comme on le dit, s’il a quitté sa femme, il va me quitter aussi un jour. Il est un traître.
Hanna: But I don’t worry about that. I’m worried about this incompleteness. I often feel like I’m stealing something, I’m taking something that doesn’t belong to me.
Katya: Mais je cela ne m’inquiète pas. Ce qui m’inquiète c’est l’incomplétude. Je sens parfois que je prends quelque chose qui ne m’appartient pas. Je suis voleur.
Hanna: You know, he calls her sometimes. And she is in a crying jag, she threatens him… She says she will kill herself.
Katya: Tu sais, il l’appelle de temps en temps. Elle est en crise de nerfs. Elle menace de suicider.
Hanna: I don’t know… As if the shadow of his wife is following us.
Katya: Je ne sais pas… Comme si l’ombre de sa femme nous chasse.
Hanna: So I don’t understand… If I go now… If I… She is… This woman, who waits for his call. From the past…
Katya:Je ne comprends pas, si je vais avec lui ce soir… Si je.. Elle est… Cette femme qui attend son appel.. Du passé.
Hanna: This reminds me of a mirror, as if I am in a mirror. Or in a play. As if I were playing a role of a third character.
Katya: Cela me rappel de miroir. Ou une pièce de théatre. Comme si je joue le troisième personnage dans leur vie.
Hanna: But right now he is going to call me and we will have a beautiful date. I will go.
Katya: Mais maintenant il va m’appeler et on va avoir un jolie rendez-vous. J’y irai.
Hanna: He wants to marry me.
Katya: Il veut me marier.
Hanna: In the same way he wanted to marry her.
Katya: Dans la même manière qu’il a voulu se marier avec elle.
Hanna: I hear your voice and you are telling me something…
Katya: J’entends ta voix et toi tu me dit quelque chose…
Hanna: But it’s only my echo - all that I hear.
Katya: Mais ce n’est que mon echo que j’entends.
Hanna: If there’s only me who could answer these questions… Well, what do I loose?
Katya: S’il n’y a que moi qui pourrait répondre á ces questions… Fin, qu’est-ce que je perd?
Hanna: I will just go and have a dinner with him.
Katya: Je vais tout simplement aller dinner avec lui.
Hanna: And everything will be beautiful as usually, and we will be walking together, and we will love each other.
Katya: Et tout sera beau comme d’habitude, et nous nous promènerons et nous nous aimerons.
Hanna: And that woman… She shouldn’t bother me.
Katya: Et cette femme… Elle ne doit pas m’inquiéter.
Hanna: Finally, if it all goes to complicated, I will just go to the beach.
Katya: Finalement, si cela devient trop compliqué, j’irai à la plage.
Hanna: Ah, this is him! He is not calling, he is texting. He is busy. But he is waiting for me.
Katya: Ah, c’est lui! Il n’appelle pas, mais il écris. Il est encore occupé. Mais il m’attend.
Hanna: Ok, hear you later! Wish me luck!
Katya: Ok, à bientôt! Souhaites-moi une bonne chance!
the total solar eclipse