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Plays by Complicite

The Encounter

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

The Encounter is a play by international theatre company Complicite and its artistic director Simon McBurney, inspired by the novel Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu. It was first performed at the Edinburgh International Festival on 8 August 2015, and received its London premiere at the Barbican in February 2016 before embarking on a world tour.

The play is performed by a single actor working with sound technicians to create a range of voices and aural effects conveyed to the audience via headphones. It tells the story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, who, in 1969, found himself lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. It was an encounter that was to change his life, as he began to explore, through the indigenous culture in which he was immersed, the limits of human consciousness. The play traces McIntyre’s journey and experiences through a constantly shifting sound world created live on stage in front of the audience.

A 'Note on the Text' in the published script explains that 'During the introduction the audience are asked to put on a set of headphones, which they then wear for the duration of the performance. Everything they hear is through these headphones. The actor uses a range of microphones that can be modified to create the voice of Loren McIntyre and other characters. The actor also creates a variety of live foley sound effects onstage, and uses loop pedals to create exterior soundscapes and the interior worlds of the characters. The performer also plays some sound and audio recordings live through their mobile phone, iPod, and various speakers. All sounds created or played onstage are picked up and relayed to the audience’s headphones through a variety of onstage microphones, one of which is binaural. Other sound is played and mixed live by two operators who in part improvise in reaction to the performer onstage.'

The Complicite production was directed and performed by Simon McBurney, co-directed by Kirsty Housley and designed by Michael Levine, with sound design by Gareth Fry with Pete Malkin.

The Street of Crocodiles

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Street of Crocodiles is an endlessly shifting mirage where people become birds, books fly through the air, and Death collects train tickets.

A feather falls out of a book marked for destruction, and takes Joseph back to his childhood memories of woodworking classes, family dinners, an attic aviary, and an upholstery shop full of swooping bolts of expensive cloth. The play’s fantastical, surreal and poetic scenes were inspired by the life and work of Polish writer Bruno Schulz (1892–1942), mingling the sensuous accents of his stories with the ominous approach of the fascist aggressors who cut the writer’s life short. It is a restless, evocative and endlessly inventive dance of memory and story, a narrative of wit and power.

Originally co-produced by Theatre de Complicite at the Royal National Theatre it opened at the Cottesloe in 1992 and toured all over the world.

The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol is a richly textured and luminous play, inventively exploring peasant life, the earth and death.

Lucie Cabrol is a wild, tiny woman born into a peasant family in France in 1900, marked from birth and teased as a child. Abandoned by her lover, Jean, and banished by her family, she becomes an outcast, beginning her second life alone. She survives by selling mushrooms and berries, and smuggling goods across the border. But it is not until her third life, her afterlife, that she discovers the survival of something more than bare human existence - the survival of hope and love.

The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol was adapted from a short story by John Berger, and was first performed in 1994 at the Manchester Dancehouse.

Founded in 1983, Complicite is a constantly evolving ensemble of performers and collaborators, now led by Artistic Director Simon McBurney. Complicite's work has ranged from entirely devised work to theatrical adaptations and revivals of classic texts. The Company has also worked in other media; a radio production of Mnemonic for BBC Radio 3, collaborations with John Berger on a radio adaptation of his novel To The Wedding for BBC Radio and The Vertical Line, a multi-disciplinary installation performed in a disused tube station, commissioned by Artangel. Always changing and moving forward to incorporate new stimuli, the principles of the work have remained close to the original impulses: seeking what is most alive, integrating text, music, image and action to create surprising, disruptive theatre.