Part of the Small Inventory Festival
performance length: 50 min
performance/film/radioplay/cirque nouveau/cut-up
“Time is a human affliction; not a human invention but a prison. So what is the meaning of one hundred sixty million years without time? What does time mean to foraging lemurs? No predators here, not much to fear. They have opposing thumbs but do not fashion tools; they have no need for tools. Man was born in time. He lives and dies in time. Wherever he goes, he takes time with him and imposes time.”
William S. Burroughs: Ghost of Chance

In Czech with English subtitles

Ghost of Chance is a book about the conflict between human civilization and nature, and Handa Gote has been concerned with this theme for quite some time. The main motif of the story is the decay of the pirate community on Madagascar. Burroughs sees that behind the conflict leading to the community‘s demise is the senseless violence that destroys natural harmony and Captain Mission’s utopian project. This lost opportunity results in resistance and hatred from which it seems there is no escape. Humankind becomes trapped in the very cage it forged, the cage of time. The killing of a sacred animal starts off a spinning spiral of death, violence and destruction, the seeds of which were hidden in the utopian project of idyllic cohabitation between various people and the natural world from the very start. Ghost of Chance’s main theme is thus the uncontrollable human urge to destroy.

In Mission the performance this tale is created (through the use of illusory theatre and film techniques) and then destroyed (inspired by Burroughs much-loved “cut-up“ method for destroying written text which he borrowed from Brion Gisyn). The cut-up method, as used by Burroughs and Gisyn, is not about anarchic destruction for its own sake, rather it reveals surprising links, inspiration from places other than the usual formal methods, a sharp insight breaking up the uniform way of looking at the material. Handa Gote has been developing and trying out its own special cut-up method in recent years. Brian Gysin claimed that “literature is fifty years behind painting.“ And surely another discipline behind painting (and the visual arts) is theatre.

Mission is a story about the wasted ideal of peace, which is vanishing along with the entire era that made it possible to cultivate any such ideal. This is a story about how it is impossible to keep peace with the world, with time, with nature, and with oneself. It also gives witness to the impossibility of giving witness to the above, for we are also witnesses of the death of language and its degradation into groups of names.

Handa Gote Research & Development
Handa Gote take part in experiments with dramaturgy, the inclusion of non-theatre elements in its work and the development of its own conception of post-dramatic and post-spectacular theatre. For many years the group has taken inspiration from science and technology. The group conducts continuous research of theatrical language, laboratory work in the fields of sound and light design, all the while questioning these disciplines. (The group promotes the use of the terms visual dramaturgy and light dramaturgy over the term “design“.)

Mission also follows up on Handa Gote’s formal experiments in the use of live video and live music as means of narrating in their own right, not just as some kind of decoration. The group has conducted long-term research in the field of specific narration, better know as non-narrative art, the deconstruction of tradional storytelling and above all in consistent work in unveiling theatrical illusion and the related reduction caused by traditional mimesis. The opinion of the group is that mimesis has lost its purpose in the “society of the spectacle“ (Guy Debord). Imitation has become our reality. Theatre should no longer offer mimesis as yet another kind of “imitating the imitated“, it should offer deeper insight (even if it is difficult to decipher), bringing us closer to mystery and intellectual adventure.
Supported by:
International Visegrad Fund (Visegrad Artist Residency in ST A NICA – ŠTOKOVEC, priestor pre kultúru), Ministry of Culture of Czech Republic, the City of Prague, jedefrau.org / produkce / Cavina-Kalivodová, Motus o.s., producers of the Alfred ve dvoře Theatre

Photo: Handa Gote Research and Development Photo: Jan Přibylský Photo: Jan Přibylský Photo: Handa Gote Research and Development Photo: Handa Gote Research and Development