Performer in Time and Space: Bluebeard

This costume and performace was designed as part of the MA project Performer in Time and Space. The photoshoot took place at the Cochrane Theatre in May 2010. It was performed by Patrick Doyle and photographed by Alex Traylen.



Through my reading of Bela Bartok’s opera, I saw Blubeard undergoing the steps of psychoanalysis, as he gradually unveils the doors and rooms of his psyche to his new wife.
The procedure seems to carry the feel of exposure, as well as pain, as we find his castle-himself- constantly sighing, bleeding and weeping.
Therefore, I took an approach to the entire act as in a state of dream. It seems clear to me, that Bluebeard is, however powerful and attractive, also a madman, one that leads his ego to act upon his unconscious, his id as Freud describes it, not separating dream from reality, madness from rationality and admiration from passion.
According to Lacan, people are either neurotic or psychotic, what separates the two is the absence in the latter of conscious thought, causing acts that appear to the rest of the world to be insane, and sometimes even violent, though completely natural and instinctive to the psychotic.
This has led me in to researching the worlds in between. By that meaning the worlds between reality and dream, between rationality and basic drives, the world between the sane and the insane. That heterotopia according to Foucault.
This brought the need to create a performance that would figurate the pain of the realization of insanity, the place in between waking life and dream and the freight of nightmare and life when mixed together. The desolation of arising from an illusion.
Although this thought initially led me to the mere need to trigger a visceral response to the audience, I later realize that the need for that response was not clear enough. The contrast between the state he was in and now has let go should be highlighted and later the pain would be the result of the difference. So on realizing the link between torture of the medieval times of quartering and the pain I would like to unveil, I kept that as a medium in order to find the mechanism to separate the contrast.
Furthermore, while initially assuming that the women were mere objects of admiration to him that he could not control his urges towards, I later realized that the women were not so much to his appreciation, yet more so like props to him, like pieces  of a puzzle
Adapting the theoretical research on the fine art world and visualization, I was drawn quite close to the surrealists, as it has been a movement largely based on dream, irrational questions with unreal answers as well as unconscious states_ Andre Breton describes surrealism as “actions which are automatisms without moral boundaries”. Furthermore, I found the study of the in-between space and heterotopias in the work of artists that have dealt with suspension.
Finally, adapting this work onto dress, I was led to the 1920-30’s world of the surrealists, in a combination of asylum wear as well as clergy, as it has been widely used as an absurd symbol by the surrealists, while putting the audience in a place within which they could actually experience, in a panoramic oversized view, the deepest thoughts of Bluebeard, causing a chill of awe-inspiration due to the size and color that connotes dream.
In Blubeards transforming dress, I found the need to design a power dress that would shed of him after he concludes his collection and recognizes his insane self. Therefore by the end when he hooks all four of his wives onto his dress, they pull him apart, throwing him into a torturous fit.

Sigmund Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams
Jaques Lacan: The Seminars of Jaques Lacan
Andre Breton: Surrealist Manifesto