La Fin des Terres (Lands End)

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2007, 12:00am

Compagnie Philippe Genty

Kwai Tsing Theatre Sat and Dec 30, 7.30pm; Dec 30, 3pm

If there's a surreal, dreamlike quality to Philippe Genty's stage works, that's because they are inspired by his dreams. Known as a 'master of theatrical visual illusions', the French artist is fascinated with the subconscious where reality meets imagination. His latest work La Fin des Terres, on at Kwai Tsing Theatre this weekend, is another exploration of that illusory realm.

The work is about a woman lost in her inner world filled with her childhood memories and suppressed monsters. A man looking for her finds himself trapped inside her labyrinths of obsessions. Their journey ends in la fin des terres, or the end of the world, beyond which is just one vast ocean.

'Our home is situated in a district in the extreme west of France next to the ocean, it is called Finistere,' the illusionist says.

'If we split Finistere into two words, it makes finis terre, in other words, lands end in the Celtic language. The labyrinth in which the two main characters are lost leads them to the end of the land but the beginning of something else.'

In the past two decades, Genty says, the company's work has focused on the various ways humans deal with their inner conflicts.

Set up in 1968, Genty's company is known for its theatrical style combining drama, dance, mime, puppetry, lights, music and sounds. Through various theatrics, especially illusion, the artist transforms the stage into 'an area of the subconscious'.

'I had a strange obsession ... I used to feel very uncomfortable when someone would enter from the [stage] wings. It took me some time to finally discover that I never saw in my dreams people coming from the side ... they would surge and melt,' Genty says. 'Maybe that is why, unconsciously, I started to use illusion not for the sake of illusion but to conjure up the performers and make them vanish on stage like in my dreams.

'The progression of the sequences would follow the pattern of a dream through association of images rather than a story. Illusion also helped me to crumble the rational in order to open a gate in the subconscious of the spectator.'

Genty says audiences should treat his works not as a conventional story but a voyage through landscapes and images filled with surrealism and symbolism. 'Each member of the audience will pick up one or more meanings, at the same time questioning himself. This process creates an interaction between audience and stage and eventually each will come out with his own interpretation that echoes his inner landscapes.'

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