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‘In the image we are working on, it is the condensation of several possibilities of reading the image. We never close an image. We work a long time so that each image has a confrontational slant. In poetry, you have some metaphor which would definitely bring different signs. In the image we can’t do that and it’s a fascinating journey where the audience actually involve their own imagination in the images and are very often prolonging, by their imagination and their interpretation, the image. The construction of the whole show is more like a dream. There is not a narrative but it works sometimes on an image association. There is this journey which is underground which you can feel that this man is going through, through different trials.
Dreams and image association. This must be a cue for Monsieur Genty’s old friends Freud and Jung. Freud, troubled by his inability to explain the recurrent nightmares of soldiers returned to the safety of their homes, concluded that there must be a fundamental ‘compulsion to repeat’. In Genty’s dream-like world the main character becomes duplicated until the stage is full of men in 1930s raincoats and trilbys: ‘When the human being comes, he is a double of the puppet. He doubles himself, like magic. He is multiplying himself like he is in a way, well losing his identity and in another way perhaps looking for his identity. So it’s a sort of ballet of several of himself. The images are close to surrealism and surrealism always leaves you with a lot of interpretations.
Freud also had a theory of ‘condensation’, where various elements repressed in the subconscious combined to produce one image in a dream. The theory squares with Genty’s insistence on the ambiguity of his images — they may be the manifestations of a variety of subconscious hopes and fears.
You should have realised by now that Derives is not necessarily rip-roaring fun for all the family, in fact, as Genty admits, it has uneasy undertones: ‘It really differs from one spectator to another. I don’t think it leaves you completely blank, it definitely has some echo of something inside. But sometimes it is a bit disturbing. There are aspects of confrontation based on the notion of double-binding where there is a sort of double message. The woman and man’s relation is of opposition and rejection at the same time. At one point there is a very small baby who doesn’t yet have the unity of his body. All these things are funny but at the same time they can have an echo of early trauma.’
But is there really no prescription, no political angle, no message?
‘I have not the pretention to bring any message. It’s difficult nowadays. I think it’s important to bring out the conflicts and show that everyone has to solve them their own way. It definitely has some echo of something inside. It’s not a social kind of show where one person is confronted by another. It’s one person confronted by himself and this man is multiplied and he finds himself in a situation of looking at himself from others. All our shows have been working on the man either trying to escape or trying to resume his own inner conflict. We are opening a new way of looking at things.’
Derives can be seen at the King ’s Theatre, 1 9—22 Aug, 7.30pm.
The List 17 — 23 August 1990 5