If there was a strong place in intensity from morning to evening at the 2022 edition of the Chalon Dans La Rue festival, it was the Cour des Belges, which hosted a very fine line-up of companies… Belgian, with a sense of celebration and quality shows. Under the latter, we were able to discover We Agree To Disagreecreation of 2020 by Collectif Malunés, a collective creation for the street, a festive, physical, participative, explosive local circus show, which did not really leave the public indifferent.
We Agree To Disagreeis a very misleading title. Quite the contrary, intentionally or not, it is the proposal that puts everyone in agreement. Through a slightly subversive outdoor circus show, above all wickedly enjoyable, where virtuosity is very present but never puts the public at a distance – quite the contrary – the Franco-Belgian collective Malunés tries to form a community, if only in an ephemeral way, around unconfined artists who are invited to “come down from their throne of toilet paper to straddle the tiger”… Suffice to say that a lot of humor and second degree are there.
As soon as the audience is seated, the artists of the cast mingle with the spectators everywhere, recruit accomplices with all their might, train separate groups for a quick formation, slip a speech already written in a pocket… From the start , therefore, things are clear: it is a question of pulverizing the fourth wall, of inviting the public under or even on the trapeze, of making them climb to the top of the columns for three, of requiring their assistance to complete the orchestra… in short, to make it participate, but in such an active and permanent form that one can almost speak of co-construction.
Of course, risk-taking is limited, and children are not thrown into triple backflips… even if they can find themselves hoisted a good distance from the ground. Still, it’s a proposition that must have given programmers and other TDs some cold sweats when they realized how zero the distance between performers and audience members would be, and how much pirouette the latter or audience would involve. less would graze them very, very closely. We feel the raging appetite to find ourselves with full embraces after the physical distance imposed by the sanitary measures, we perceive the desire to touch all the senses and to all the senses, and to call a big party of letting go. Mission accomplished.
All of this is done with an irresistibly sympathetic promptness, a vibrant energy, a badly contagious good humor. The music played live does not contribute little to this momentum. The public reacts to the quarter turn, lends itself to all the exercises with delight even when it comes to being singled out, on the track, in front of a thousand people. There is a desire to do, a spirit, which largely overcomes all fears and apprehensions – in any case, it is true for enough spectators for volunteers to always be found, for crowds to rush spontaneously to help build a column, so that clusters of bodies find themselves clustered against or under the apparatus. It’s necessarily a bit messy, because the accident still has its part, but the anarchy is channeled effectively and the show never goes off the rails. However, any representation of We Agree To Disagree is inevitably unique, the fruit of the people and the conditions that were there on the day of the performance – and that’s great.
When the public has finished helping to set up the apparatus, when the orchestra is complete and the accomplices have played their part, when a good soul has agreed to act as backstage for a time, there are still circus acts, and not at a beginner level… rather the opposite! There’s swinging trapeze at eight meters, there’s a damn muscular Korean frame, there’s spectacular (and participatory) seesaw as desired, acrobatic lifts and quality hand-to-hand… The desire to do with the public and to write in such a way as to convene the group, the collectivity, the anarchist micro-State which sets its own rules and is open to all negotiations does not prevent – but then not at all – from making room for virtuosity. We occasionally lose our ability to improvise, but not necessarily in madness, since the white-hot public clearly feels involved in the slightest risk-taking, and screams and applauds wildly as we don’t often see. Clearly, a distance has been abolished, a dike has failed.
It is perhaps on the promise of digging into the question of collective governance through the spectacle that We Agree To Disagree could seem a little below its promises. The ambition to explore the “different ways in which humans succeed or fail to live and work together” quickly turns short, if we are to believe the two representations we have seen: the public is acquired and conquered, the opposition non-existent, the debate is put in checkmate even before the opening of the game. Certainly, we experiment during the performance with more or less gentle guiding phases, depending on whether the way of soliciting the public is more or less frontal and authoritarian… But we are then more in an experience of social psychology (impossibility of refusing in the face of pressure of the crowd to comply with the instructions given) than of political philosophy. To be honest, anyone who hasn’t read the note of intent will have no awareness of this underlying questioning…and they probably won’t miss it….
We must do justice to We Agree To Disagree in the place where it succeeds, and in this place it succeeds more than completely: to pulverize the distance between artists and audience, to create a crazy group dynamic, to distill an overflowing joy of meeting and doing together, to show very nice circus numbers too. Giving so much pleasure, isn’t that enough?
The August tour of the Malunés collective leads him to do the tour of Belgium, but his route will go back to France… and you will have to go there, if you like the circus, if you like partying, or quite simply if one likes merry brothels!
Distribution: Authors – Performers: Simon Bruyninckx, Juliette Correa, Lola Devault-Sierra, Luke Horley, Gabriel Lares, Arne Sabbe, Nickolas Van Corven, Mohamed Keita / Outside eye: Bram Dobbelaere / Builder: Joppe Wouters / Technical director: Anthony Caruana, Alexis Chauvelier / Lighting designer: Olivier Duris / Logistics: Damien Lenet / Administration / production: Euge?nie Fraigneau / Distribution: Emma Ketels
Visual © Jakob Rosseel