Laura Dubourjal: Looking for Character, First rehearsal, a repeated performance.

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Laura Dubourjal's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents. 

Looking for Character, First rehearsal, a repeated performance.

Laura's question: Becoming another has the potential of liberating one from internalised cops in the head. But in a contemporary western society, in which it is often expected of subjects to be flexible, intra-changeable and their own inventors, can a repeated practice of self re-invention be emancipatory?

Laura's introduction: The play Looking For Character follows the messy train of thought of its main character Laï. Having grown up in a family of six actors, she recalls the constitutive confusion with which she assimilated the ways one becomes oneself, with the way one transforms into a character. Ridden with anxiety, our character finds a link between her mental state and the pressure of performing within her family’s legacy. A repeating performance of selves, each repetition bringing a different component of one’s identity.

Hubert's report: The performance takes place in a dark space with an illuminated stage. Laura, wearing a blonde wig, orange dress and open corset, invites the audience to leave their seats and join the performers on the stage. People gather around Morena Buser, Emmeli Person, Marika Vandekraats, Felix Bahret who are wearing colorful wigs and clothes as well. Some of the textiles have prints of Laura’s face on them.  Laura announces the beginning of the open rehearsal and introduces the characters to the audience, naming them as “voices''. The audience is invited to take part in the “warm up” engaging with simple exercises of breathing and stretching. After that the actors begin rehearsing their lines directed by Laura. The play has only one character---Laï. Four actors represent the internal voices of the protagonist. The play unfolds in three parts. In the first two Laura directs actors who read their lines. In the last part the green spotlight and dimming of the space is moving the attention of the audience to the left of the stage, where Laura performs a monologue of Laï. The speech transitions to scream and then to a song. The performance finishes with Laura announcing the end of the rehearsal.

Ana Teixeira Pinto commented on the notion of the narrative and the method of its unfolding through a few different characters. Referring to Tzvetan Todorov and Jacques Rancière Ana spoke of the piece within a post-structuralist turn towards the narrative and the perspective on the real, which has to be fictionalized in order to be thought. Within the performance this approach was visible with the play between fictional, unfictional and non-fictional subject matter—intertwining the personal biography within a larger story. Ana also observed a connection of the rehearsal to games and gamification in the way the characters were coming to the stage. Mentioning Richard Garriot, as one of earliest game developers Ana commented on the function of the repetition as being functionalized in gaming by reward system, and proposed to think of repetition as a work of making sense of one’s personal life and locating one’s narrative within broader social structures.

Phanuel Antwi reacting to the costumes and characters of the performance referred to a text by Deidre Shauna Lynch “The Economy of Character, Novels, Market Culture and the Buisness of Inner Meaning”. Phanuel commented on the formula of open rehearsal, which allowed the audience to access what is behind the performances—the work often not visible for the viewers. Rehearsal was not only a container for the performance but a method of building a self, through repetition and trials. This aspect of rehearsal could have been even more emphasized, as a constant repetition of the same scenes, allows to see a practice of possibilities and expands on the imperative possibilities of characters.

Chiara Figone appreciated the formula of rehearsal and repetition as a way of building a character, which felt to be based on a personal story. By doing so the presentation  allowed to see how fiction is entangled with reality. The repetition and rehearsing the lines broke down the character and was a modality of addressing internalized aspects and perpetual questions, which will always come back and will never will be fully answered. The presentation brought an audience to the pace of building and later unbuilding the character. This unbuilding was not final, it was neither a gesture of liberation or annihilation, but rather an exposition of cracks within the matrixes of different histories, emphasized by the details of the performance.

About Laura Dubourjal


Laura Dubourjal's "Looking for Character, First rehearsal, a repeated performance." was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 14th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed