CAMPO and Miet Warlop do weird stuff. And it’s not gratuitous – it’s good. From one of Europe’s groundbreaking companies comes a show as entertaining as it is surprising.
Willie White recommended this show to Peter Crawley as being a good choice for his “hipster mates”. What do you make of that?
(Laughs) or Ha!Well this is a show that is light or loaded depending, but I can see why Willie would say that. If you look at theatre and its tradition, I think this is the furthest away you can get. This has a lot to do with Miet Warlop who is the actor-director. She comes from the arts academy here in Ghent and her background is in visual art – there is no dramatic background in that sense.
What is the starting point for Miet Warlop’s work then, theatre or the visual images?
Everything starts with images for Miet. But another starting point is very often slap-stick which she is very interested in and it’s obviously theatrical. She works with images yes, but moving images. And there’s a very clear dramaturgy and development of the production which is theatrical. Actually I’m not sure that you could call this theatre, it’s more like performing art that brings a lot of things together.
The show is supposedly grounded in modern animation and cartoon?
Absolutely in terms of imagination it’s a very cartoonish visual creation. It’s very different from a theatrical performance in that she brings these figures on stage and she uses her inspiration o bring them to life. She has the Fat Man, who is incredibly fat, the Hairy, these people who wear huge wigs so that they are like walking hair – so everything is over the top and exaggerated. In its totality this is how it is different – as a visual artist she didn’t start with content. She was collecting images, creating sculptures, trying to bring movement and only then did the content develop. Out of the three years she worked on this project, two were spent collecting and conceiving these images and only in the last year did the ‘show’ element come in, the content. Miet Warlop tends to work with the idea of chaos, so how does the lack of speech contribute or deduct from the performance?
There’s a gibberish talk in the show. But the chaos comes from the visuals mainly. It’s like a museum nightmare, or a bad trip: it starts with a completely white space which suddenly gets covered in paint, materials and other elements. The lack of speech just contributes to that.
CAMPO is at the forefront of contemporary theatre-making in Europe, but how would you describe it to a Dublin audience member who hasn’t heard of you before?
Well we work in two ways – as a space for presenting work, and as an arts centre interested in artist development. We take up young artists from different fields and we follow them for two, three years, sometimes even ten. What we try to create at CAMPO is a slow-down of time, so that there’s space to make mistakes, produce, without a need for it to be successful.
You’ve been collaborating for six years, what brings Miet Warlop and CAMPO together?
We have faith in Miet, Mystery Magnet is a great show, but I think it’s our flexible way of working at CAMPO, she can go away and work on different things and come back and there is still time and space for her to work here.
Mystery Magnet runs from the 8th- 10th October in the Samuel Beckett Theatre. Tickets right here.
Words: Roisin Agnew