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Talking about silence (1)

What would happen if theatre would be a place where every unnecessary detail or prop would be left out? What if the aim would be to clear the space completely? If a subject would be added only when crucial? Or if a text, a word, a letter would be pronounced only if it speaks more to us then silence.

‘In theatre, as in life in general, we tempt to think in the full. What kind of light shall I put? Which music shall I use? Which costume shall I wear? … But what if we think the opposite (2)? What if the full is only a resonance of the void? In the end the void is where we come from and where we go -back- to. It contains our original meaning. The void meaning also the empty. And emptiness being understood as the main departure point. A charged emptiness, consisting of condensed tensions. Nothing to do with the passive translation of the word.

Can we compare the relation between empty and full with the one between darkness and light? Or with silence and sound?

What is silence as supposed to sound? Or to non-silence? Emptiness, the void, is to the full as silence is to sound. What’s behind silence is emptiness and when we have a conversation, the conversation breaths through it’s silences. Charged silences. Silence is the point where we actually understand -blinded- the dialogue. When you relate to a person, before you understand the meaning of the words he or she says, before that you already know if you understand her or him. Language can not be reduced to words. Words might be the least important parts of language. Words are necessary sometimes, but they are not language. Language is first of all: significant silence.

How is silence being charged? To charge silence, we create frames. Silence occurs in a frame. Something happened before, something happened after and in between there are tensions. Silence can be more or less obvious and can be active or passive. When the frame is not rigid, it’s a membrane, it breaths. Then the frame creates an expectation, the frame enables -to a public or anyone else- to shape the rhythm and to open doors to imagination and much more.'

Take an orchestra-director for example. And the moment when he or she raises his arms just before the first instrument starts to play. In those few seconds, everything is being charged with silence.

The same questions can be applied when we talk about darkness and light. For example: when do we add a light on stage? Or how much light is necessary to get to the poetics of curiosity?


(1) This blog post is based on an interview I did with Enrique Vargas for the magazine Rekto:Verso in 2014, focused around the theme of ‘silence’.

(2) Paul Arden wrote a book: ‘Whatever you think, think the opposite’. I like the book. Maybe mostly for the title and the effect it brings about when reading it (more than for the literal words written).

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