Melbourne Festival draws to a close with a performance of Germinal, an absurd and powerful play from French troupe L’Amicale de production, in which the entire universe is created onstage by four performers. We spoke to co-creator Halory Goerger.
How would you describe Germinal?
I love it when audiences don’t know anything, because the show starts with literally nothing on stage. It’s about a group of people who form a society in an hour and 15 minutes, inventing language, relationships and discover at some point that they are part of a play. It’s about our development, the history of ideas, of science, presented as a show.
You create the world from scratch onstage, which sounds ambitious.
In the beginning, we thought it was something that shouldn’t be attempted. But it’s not literally the world, but a study of what the world would look like if it was composed of only four people and if space was only the space of a stage and if they only had an hour and 15 minutes to live. There are so many constraints it made it quite easy. The only ambition was to finish the show in time.
The show contains some big ideas. How do you keep it accessible?
First, we’re not that smart. We didn’t write it in a very clever way, we have four not-very-smart characters just discovering things as they go, like language. We want the audience to share the joy of that discovery. We want you to believe it’s just a bunch of dumb people making things happen without knowing what they are doing. We’re not interested in creating clever material, but rather creating clever situations.
It’s a show about how we make sense of our world, isn’t it?
There’s no lesson to be learned from the hypothetical world we created in Germinal. If there is, it’s about theatre, but not about life. For us, it was like science fiction, which creates worlds that do not exist that have particular rules about society and behaviour. I think that’s one of the reasons sci-fi is so popular, because people are wanting to picture alternatives to our world. We create an alternative universe which we can observe as an audience and think, “Oh god, I wouldn’t want to live there.”
Do you think it’s ultimately a positive show?
We know that it’s not a bummer. It’s a show that ends well, with a song. We’ve done some very weird and experimental shit in the last few years, but this one has a quality that’s very engaging. It’s the only time we’ve done something that ends this happily.
Germinal, The Coopers Malthouse, October 19-22, $69, festival.melbourne
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