A Modern "Guerilla": The Street Theatre of Warner-en-Consortien
My paper focuses on the contemporary vitality of Warner-en-Consortien, a theatre/performance art ensemble in Amsterdam reconfigured by Warner van Wely, one of the original artists of Dogtroop. De-emphasizing fantastic spectacle as superficial, Warner's company retains a determined philosophical commitment to a theatrical encounter in public spaces which confronts individuals, not intending to attend a performance, with compelling vignettes and site specfiic improvisation in order to provide glimpses of the inanity of contemporary society and individual preoccupation with seemingly important activity in their daily lives. Warner's theatre is one in which spectacle is reduced to well composed functionality while offering memorable imagry and dynamic playing spaces as mobile units move through streets like medieval pageant wagons. The company, comprised of Warner and ten much younger members, practces an egalitarian, semi-communal cooperation in devising the content, context, and intention of the works. Emphasis often is placed on discovering new uses, usually musically and/or rhythmically for found, commonplace, discarded or unusual items. A firm commitment towards counteracting contemporary commercialization and objectification of life drives this company to tour and perform throughout the world. I assisted in the inaugural performances of their new work, Guerilla, in Erlangen Germany in the spring of 2005. This paper presents a reaction to these performances and seeks to examine the compelling forces underlying the company's vitality and continued commitment to using theatre as art and performance to achieve clearly defined egalitarian socio-political goals within a specific aesthetic. Interviews with Warner, company members and board members form the base of the research along with my personal experience working with the company. The non-ornamental functionality of design used by Warner offers contemporary designers an significant alternative view of design and performance.
I plan to include visual images of Guerilla within the context of the paper. I have also contacted Warner about the possibility of the company performing in
Edinburgh at the time of the conaference. This conjunction needs further negotiation.
Keywords: contemporary vitality of street theatre, de-emphasizes fantastic spectacle, spectacle as well composed functionality, encountering of audiences in site specific public areas, use of improvisation, mimed vignettes, rhythm and makeshift instruments, philosopical commitment to art as a vehicle for socio-political awareness and change.
Prof. Charles E. Erven
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Loyola Marymount University