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Tall man

concert (set) design by Surnatural Orchestra

Created at the Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil (93) between November 16-22, 2018

“He says nothing, doesn’t flinch. Our breath pulls him in, our balsa puppet. He swings back and forth, like a pendulum, says nothing, doesn’t flinch. Have you lost your way, beacon of bones, beacon of bricks and baubles? Where are you going, with that static gait? Eyes closed, to avoid seeing the red earth paths under our feet. We are here, hanging off your every breath. With a bat of your lashes, you’ll let us know. Train tracks, rust powder. But if everything falls apart, don’t tell anyone what you see…

A collective creation by the Surnatural Orchestra, Tall Man blends lyrics and texts with new compositions. All the while indulging the group’s narrative inclinations, it marks a merger with the universe of visual artist Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes.

Tall Man, ambiguous and emblematic figure of Authority, is the connecting thread for this show. If his presence seems as ineluctable as his vertiginous absence, it nevertheless causes much trouble. It opens an opportunity to ask: from what domination should we free ourselves? What pains do we suffer from? Are we still on the right track when this society of abundance, entertainment, security and control seems to immobilize us—physically, mentally? What new world(s) can we build together?

At the heart of the show is the pop-suffused repertoire, sweeping across a wide spectrum of sounds—from ellingtonnian ballads to African grooves, from the sonorities of Kurt Weill to the flights of a tarantella. Sung, spoken or recited, written or improvised, words take centre stage with conviction and humour, distilling visions and making provocations… before inviting an escape to Utopia, immediate and collective.

Invited to support the concept and explore it in tandem, visual artist Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes has created costumes for the story… and a mastodont of a set. It is a matter of before and after, of paths to reinvent, of codes, of holding back and letting go. A moment together to share immediate joys and mischievous tricks, doubts and questions. A place to try creating a taste of that After, for everyone to see—in confidence, abandon, play, dance; in a moment of show, ball, carnival; in a court of miracles. Photos: Valérie Frossard and Stephen Bedrossian.