Serata Futurista 2.0
Review of The Eighth Day trans-media performance By Victorine van Alphen
Written by Dramaturgist & Philosopher L. De Groen
What is the future? Starting from this question, theatre- and filmmaker Victorine van Alphen started her project ‘De Achtste dag’. A performance that brings to mind the Serata Futurista; an eclectic evening that, with performances, artists and manifesto’s, gives a glimpse of what the future might look like. But where the futurists dreamed of a future with machines, van Alphen images the future to be in the realm of the digital.
In the heart of a beamer-landscape that is produced by an algorithm, van Alphen in sitting behind a macbook. It is a fitting image, because it shows something frightening about the future; the future will be controlled by proceedings that we won’t understand. We can’t see whether she is implementing the algorithm or is controlling the human performances, all we know that she is in charge. Because the mechanics of the beamer-landscape and the soundscape are inconceivable for the layman, van Alphen gets an almost mythical power from behind her macbook. Apparently, she does understand the future.
Van Alphen seems to have borrowed several aspects from the futurists. In ‘De Achtste dag’, the relation between the audience is put into question. When we enter the room, we are asked a few questions regarding the future. Are we optimistic? Do we believe it will be all right? Depending on our answers we are divided over two small tribunes. During the night several audience members are asked to come on stage to answer new questions about the future. It shows another aspect of the future: even though we can have an image of it, we lack all substantial knowledge.
Another element that van Alphen took from the futurists is that the evening is a loving celebration of the future. Starting with the beamer-landscape, during the night a few video-artworks are being shown that visualize the future in a very loving and daring way. In the live-acts, the questions explore subtly, invitingly, what the future might hold: what will we do when we are going to be out of language? What is an actor without a body?
But on a crucial point van Alphen takes distance from the futurists: she opposes it with sensuality. In ‘De Achtste Dag’, van Alphen clashes the idea of the future with the human quality of sensuality. Right when you as an audience member are being drown into the beamer-landscape, there is a live actor that engages with you on a very intimate, sensitive level. Every time you are lured into an intellectual, and rather radical, vision of the future, you are being reminded of the power of the theatre: that it is a live-experience where the audience and the makers alike have the possibility to touch each other.
This confrontation reaches its climax in a beautiful monologue in which Sieger Baljon bags us not to forget the body. In ever widening circles he slowly removes his body from the room, until only his voice is left. Only to return naked, with VR-glasses over his eyes, to walk the room one last time. It is at the same time a waring and an ode to the fragility of our sensuality. A plead for a loving, futurist future.