The Discrete Charm of Marxism
The Discrete Charm of Marxism stages Marxist texts on class struggle and revolution as a six course meal. The audience is invited to communally consume/read/discuss the food. The ‘food’ and entire dinner iconography is rendered through paper and graphic layout, while real food and drinks are served as ‘books’ in the library, so no one stays hungry.
photo: Jelena Janković / Thomas Lenden
premiere: DasArts, Amsterdam 2013; presentations: 2014: Brakke Grond, Amsterdam; Jeter son corps dans la bataille/COMMUN, bâtiment d’art contemporain, Geneva; Kibla, Maribor; 2015: BITEF, Belgrade, HAU, Berlin within “Marx Gespenster”; Kaaitheater, Brussels; 2016: Frascati, Amsterdam; DeBalie, Amsterdam; 2017: Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon.
The piece offers Marxism as a specific platform to temporarily withdraw from the current events and view them from a seemingly different perspective. However, points out answers and tools for analysis in something that was written more than 150 years ago, but still unmistakeably describes the causes and effects of current socio-political dynamics.
The host/performer guides his/her guests/audience through the menu. The text of the performance, with menu as a ‘script’, is collectively improvised on the spot and determined by the connections, associations, attitudes people establish with the consumed dishes/texts. It is a conversation piece, where the main role belongs to the audience, but the extent of participation is left for everyone to decide.
Some of the food is consumed in a solitary way, some in companies of two, or three; the roast is consumed communally, resembling a self-managed mini conference, with conducted reading and commentaries. … The leafs of salad/poem are assembled as a puzzle; the sorbet, as a break, is a Brazilian crypto-Marxist song – like they used to be during the junta dictatorship – performed by musicians; cheeses are poignant quotes on today’s activism dilemma, and roast is composed of tour de force sequences from the Communist Manifesto, while dessert and digestive offer concrete and condensed closure and relief.
The real food and drinks are served in a library as books – a homage to Buñuel’s toilet-dinner table swap from The Phantom of Liberty – aimed at providing a relaxed space for guests to withdraw and rest from sometimes ‘heavy’ courses. The two foods – for body and thoughts – slowly mix and equally stimulate the performance.
In exploration of the conventions of a dinner and theatre as social events, the two reflect onto each other through the performance. The interactions that make up the performance are threefold: between the audience and the texts – where people start collaborating on explaining complicated theoretical texts and ideas to each other and through this process further discussing them; between the host and the audience – where the host is a central ‘solo’ figure co-ordinating the event but not controlling it; and between the ‘performers’ and ‘spectators’ in the audience – where this division slowly disappears. Theatre literally becomes a space of thinking together about the moment of the society we live in.
Terry Eagleton and Franco Berardi Bifo
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg,
Karl Marx, Ellen Meiskins Wood, Gáspár Miklós Tamás,
David Harvey and Terry Eagleton
Chico Buarque de Hollanda
roast or stew
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Nâzım Hikmet Ran
sélection de fromages
Karl Marx and Gáspár Miklós Tamás