Corinne

I, Corinne Dadat

Birmingham Rep, Door

*****

MOHAMMED El Khatib is a daring performance artist hailing from France. His previous performance at the rep was a self-titled piece that showed us an introduction to his life and cultural background, presenting his relationship with his mother and other family members.

In I, Corinne Dadat, Khatib uses similar workshopping techniques to present a new and engaging piece of performance art. This time he presents the voice of the unsung and perhaps most invisible in society. This performance about the life and thoughts of a cleaner he met in a rehearsal studio.

Corinne gives a profound and touching message. This workshop-style performance is the closest to real life as the audience could reach. With the direction of Khatib, who is always present on stage, reality is always present. Ms. Dadat is not a performer. She is indeed the same cleaner from the rehearsal studio and the platform of the stage opens a beautiful insight to the reasons how art affects us all.  

In Dadat’s presentation, we hear a raw account of all her personal thoughts and feelings towards the world around her. She does not speak English and surtitles are projected against the back wall. It is a beautiful, but heartfelt reflection on how the working class live from day to day. In a verbatim style approach to developing the script and final performance, we hear through pre-recorded tapes and videos about Dadat’s views of everyday life. It is current and fluid where her personal opinions are revealed about French politics, the wage gap and of course Brexit.

Through Dadat’s personal words and opinions, Khatib explores the question of when our hopes and dreams for the future diminish. Dadat explains through monologues that are prompted by the questions of Khatib that at Fifty-two years old, she never envisioned herself as a cleaner nor will she wish the profession for her children. This makes the performance all the more thought provoking as we know that her career is to clean, and the voice of the group she represents are now heard at completely new level.

The clever performance art project is enhanced by dancer Elodie Guezou. Her part within the performance is to physically embody the feelings which the script presents. Guezou has a profound part within the project and Khatib holds the lives and experiences of each woman in parallel with each other to show the similarities of human need, even when life and career paths are completely different.

Guezou is a vision to behold. With acrobatic form and unbelievable flexibility, she twists and turns her body bending in every way possible. She tells us that her chosen career path as a dancer means that she lacks career stability and support for sustaining a typical lifestyle.

Khatib is also onstage, taking the role of observer. Within the piece, it is clear that Khatib wants to capture the process of rehearsal in action on stage. At the beginning, he appears with a note book and pen, suggesting that even in performance, the learning process is still not over. Fred Hocke’s stage lighting and design are used to full effect, in order to reflect the workshop-style element of the performance. House lights are not fully dimmed and the bare open stage makes the human connection between performer and audience all the easier to access.

With each woman side by side, we see the lifestyle differences and choices that are made by us all, influencing our inner most thoughts and feelings, leading us to believe the fundamental values within ourselves.

Elizabeth Halpin

12-12-16 

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