Without Blood is a haunting novella by Alessandro Baricco about damage, longing, memory and forgiveness. After her father and brother are brutally murdered, 9 year old Nina is left for dead in the family house. Years later she confronts the perpetrator who is also her saviour.
So Inne, can you tell us more about Without Blood and why you chose this as material for your piece?
I’ve always been intrigued by where we draw the line between victim and perpetrator and how that influences our lives. Often this line is thin. If you think of child soldiers, for instance, they do terrible and ugly things but in very specific circumstances. In Without Blood it’s the end of the war, there’s a massacre on a farm and there’s one little moment where a young man opens a trap door, sees a girl laying there and chooses within a matter of seconds, not to kill her. I’m interested in how this tiny moment affected the rest of their lives. After more than 40 years, the two meet. And it’s also this opportunity to question our perpetrator and our desire to understand, even our worse enemy that I’m interested in.
There’s something very human about that need for comprehension. I’m interested in the different dimensions of human beings, the dichotomy between victim and perpetrator. The difficulty of being human is that it’s never black and white.
Can you tell us about the choices you made about using music and text over movement in this piece?
Text is very important in the sense that literature is always in my work, but often I try to tell the story in images, sound, movement, way more than I have now. It’s the first time I’m so focused on the text. I always try to tell a story in the most interesting and relevant way possible and in this case, it was obvious. When I first read the book I didn’t see or feel a lot of movement at all. Basically the book is in two big chapters. The first is the attack on the farm and we decided very quickly that we wanted to tell it purely through music and sound. And the second part is two people, a man and a woman talking in a bar. It was so basic and I really loved the dialogue so we decided to stay very close to the book.
Can you tell us a little about your dance influences?
I’ve always really liked moving myself. I was lucky that my parents would always take me to theatre and opera. I remember seeing Maurice Bejart’s Bolero when I was 8 and thinking ‘wow, the world is full of possibilities’. When I was 16 to 18 it was the time of Anne Theresa de Keersmaeker, NeedCompany, Jan Fabre, Wim Vandekeybus. I was in awe of this generation of artists and how they worked with movement and also, sometimes, text to tell stories in very different ways. They really had a great impact on me and later on my work. Later, I worked with Wim Vandekeybus for one year on a piece called Scratching the Inner Field. I did the dramaturgy on that piece.
Why did you want to make this specific piece now?
It really struck me lately that this story could happen today, right now in places like Syria, for example.
During the creation of the piece we had the attacks here in Brussels and we all immediately felt that the text took on new meanings. For example the woman says ‘you were 20, you were a young guy, you stood there, you saw them killing my brother and my father and you did nothing, why?’ and he replies ‘I was only a soldier’. I think in today’s events, we can easily imagine young soldiers feeling like that they are doing what they are told and believing they are fighting for a better world, a better and different world. In the book, the man says something interesting about revenge, he says ‘that is the drug which makes us capable of fighting’ and I think it gives us some perspective in today’s world.
Without Blood is at The Place as part of LIFT 6-8 June.
Inne Goris is a Crying Out Loud Associate Artist.