Imagine “2001, a Space Odyssey” in a theatre. You cannot use “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Strauss to stand half an hour of monkey silence, neither beautiful waltzes while you watch the movement of a spaceship in the lonely emptiness of the space. Forget about audiovisual effects…In a theatre, you have a scene and dialogues—well, you could try to emulate Richard Wagner to create a Gesamtkunstwerk, but this is not possible with very limited resources, whereas it was the case in Kubrick’s film. In this play, at the beautiful and modest halles de Schaerbeek, what you loose in solemnity you win in humour and freshness.
The action of “Corps diplomatique” takes place in the biggest room of the vessel, where astronauts are going to create a new kind of theatre to communicate with new forms of life they will encounter in future generations. Indeed, you feel as if you are in space with them, in the hall of a new dramatic art. Only a clock, which signals the hour and date, and a little porthole, through which you realise the proximity or distance from the Earth, give you any notion of life outside the room.
The dialogue is quite unpretentious. No talk of the meaning of life or heroic feats, but the daily chat of a group of five Frenchmen, three men and two women, about life in a spaceship. As the number of jokes increases you realise that the play in fact is a comedy, and quite an effective one. There is some obsession with creating a new kind of art from scratch, as is the case today with the unfair primacy of the new and and the surprising.
The assumption of the play to create in the very remote future takes us back obviously to the very present. You will see, everything turns out to be fairly old and familiar. The conclusion is that man depends on rites; that theatre, and art perhaps, is nothing else than another liturgy we need to perform.
Image credit © KFDA