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Coco Chanel by Jo Strømgren Kompani (Norway) and Ulrike Quade Company (The Netherlands) (Programme Cancelled)
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Meet-the-artist Session and Post-performance Talk
Meet-the-artist Session and Post-performance Talk

**Due to temporary closure of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on 5 October and 6 October pm, the performances of "Coco Chanel" scheduled on 5-6 October 2019 (Sat-Sun) at the Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre have been cancelled.  Please keep the original intact ticket(s) (with stubs) for refund.  For details of refund arrangement, please refer to the latest announcement on the Cultural Presentations website (www.lcsd.gov.hk/cp) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/culturalpresentations) afterwards.  Please call at 2268 7323 during office hours for enquiries.  

 

A timeless fashion icon of gracefulness

 

“Magic beyond words.” Theaterkrant, the Netherlands

 

“Imaginative collage…Distinctive and precise.” Dagbladet, Norway

 

Coco Chanel was an icon of fashion. With her bold designs she liberated women from the corset.  The interdisciplinary performance Coco Chanel  features a wide range of puppets, absurdist methods of puppetry, portrayal of historical people, and a great dash of wild imaginative theatre.  It tells the eventful life of Coco, who despite being an orphan rose to the French upper class.  Her name is a symbol of equality and freedom for modern women today.

 

In English with Chinese and English surtitles

 

Meet-the-artist session (In English) after 4/10 performance

With post-performance talk on 5 Oct evening (Conducted in Cantonese)

The running time of each performance is approximately 1 hour without intermission.

Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually.  Latecomers will NOT be admitted.

 

 

Coco Chanel by Jo Strømgren Kompani and Ulrike Quade Company

 

Jo Strømgren Kompani (Norway)

The Jo Strømgren Kompani (JSK) was founded in 1998 and, from its base in Norway, has grown to become one of the most successful independent groups in Scandinavia.

JSK’s style is characterized by a peculiar mix of dance and theatre, with a distinct and often very physical humour combined with darker, political undertones. Another trademark is the extensive use of nonsensical language and, in recent years, a playful use of voiceover.

 

Ulrike Quade Company (The Netherlands)

The Ulrike Quade Company was founded by Ulrike Quade in 1999 and is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It is a visual theatre company combining sculpture and dance, mime and performance, and language and music. Ulrike Quade is one of the Netherland’s most outstanding visual theatre practitioners.  Her productions speak directly to audiences through their intensity and openness and in the surprising way that objects and subjects come to life.

Concept and Directing

: Jo Strømgren and Ulrike Quade

Original Performers

: Ester Natzijl, Ilija Surla and Indra Cauwels

Performers

: Céline Mathieu, Marjolein Vogels and Ilija Surla

Set Designer

: Jo Strømgren

Lighting Designer

: Floriaan Ganzevoort

Composer

: Strijbos & Van Rijswijk

Puppet Design & Creation

: Ulrike Quade

Assistant Puppet Creation

: Maria Landgraf

Costume Designer

: Jacqueline Steijlen

Assistant Director

: Anne van Dorp

Dramaturgical Advice

: Thomas Lamers

Intern Puppet Creation

: Hannah Baudouin

Technicians

: Niels Runderkamp and Richard Bron

Photographer

: Michiel Voet

 

In collaboration with Strijbos & Van Rijswijk

Organised by Ibsen International

Coco Chanel: If the Shoe Fits

Text: Molly Grogan

Is it possible to separate great art from the lives of the artists who created it?  The question is often debated when it comes to the visionary artists of the 20th century who were also anti-Semites.  Coco Chanel must be counted among them.  The legendary fashion designer broke the mould in countless ways but in her anti-Semitic views, she was no different than other artists of her time.  At least that was the general consensus until credible evidence emerged that she acted not only as the “horizontal collaborator” with the occupying German army in Paris that many suspected her to be but that she was also a bona fide Nazi agent.*

What then to make of Coco Chanel?

Ulrike Quade and Jo Strømgren are on the side of those who dissociate the art from the life lived. The German puppeteer and the Norwegian choreographer offer an homage to the fashion icon that embraces her - Nazis and all.  It is an embrace that is both figurative and literal, in this production where the puppet “Coco” is carried and cradled, lovingly, tenderly, through the stages of her life, but particularly her late years.  We encounter a woman weathered by the passing of time and high living, as both an artist haunted by the beauty of her creations and the poetry of Pierre Réverdy (another of her lovers who shared her pro-Nazi sympathies) and a businesswoman fiercely dedicated to her fashion house until she died, in 1971, at the age of 87.

Quade and Strømgren walk a razor’s edge in 60 minutes of dance/puppet theater.  From one side of the Chanel runway, the designer’s influence on women’s fashion stretches far beyond her lifetime.  The woman who learned to sew from the Catholic nuns who raised her after she was orphaned at the age of 12, revolutionised women’s dress wear in the 1920s by using pedestrian fabrics like jersey to create wearable, loose fitting fashions that definitively freed women from the corsets of the 19th century.  She may have adopted her garçonne (tomboy) look from menswear but she made everything about it smart and sexy by modeling the designs herself.  Her pert nose, serpentine smile, bobbed hair and signature ropes of pearls became the quintessence of Chanel style.  Naturally, the show’s centrepiece is a catwalk that celebrates the unapologetic confidence and matter-of-fact femininity of her designs.  Quade and Strømgren apparently concur with Chanel’s own assessment of her legacy: “I don’t do fashion. I am fashion.”

The other side of the camera-popping display shears off, however, into the abyss of her odious hatred of Jews and her aiding and abetting of the Nazis.  Quade and Strømgren do not flinch from these realities; in fact, they embrace them too, but rather as you would a porcupine, or perhaps the notoriously prickly Coco herself - at a certain remove, so that the details remain fuzzy to anyone unfamiliar with her life. 

The most tangible setting in this impressionistic show is Chanel’s table at the Hôtel Ritz where she took up residence during the war years, as did the Nazi commanders in Paris: a convenience that offered her invaluable protection.  It is here that we find Coco gossiping with the writer Jean Cocteau (a friend, and, again, a Nazi sympathiser),  and where we see her carry on with her lover, the German intelligence officer, Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, on whose behalf she attempted to negotiate a deal with Churchill.  It is also here that we watch Coco rebuff her nemesis, Pierre Wertheimer, the owner of the Bourjois cosmetics company and a Jew, with whom she had contracted before the war to market her then fledgling perfume, Chanel No. 5, and whom she later tried to cut out of the deal by using Aryan property laws to have Wertheimer disqualified as her business partner to recoup the entirety of his investment (a ploy that Wertheimer foresaw and avoided).

Chanel, who rigorously curated her look even in old age, appears here as a sharp-faced harpy, thanks to Quade’s handheld, torso-less puppets which mince across the stage on birdlike legs created from female mannequin arms: an unsettling image of both fragility and domination.  In counterpoint, the slippery Cocteau moves like an excited walrus on two flipper-like arms formed by the puppeteer’s legs.  Quade’s designs are inspired by the work of Okamoto Hoichi (1947-2010), who used mime and dance to create an inseparable synergy with his fluid, life-size puppets.

While Coco Chanel doesn’t allow us to linger too long on a reprehensible individual, Quade and Strømgren do not let her off the hook either.  Strømgren’s abstract set and choreography create a phantasmagorical world where pure fantasy intersects the designer’s subconscious.  The choice allows the creative team to lead a stealth attack on Coco’s morals.  At times, the Coco puppet is inhabited by a furious succubus, and at other times the nuns who raised her appear to scowl at her opportunism.  However, her harshest critique is delivered twice through the voice of Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator, when his character urges his audience to “fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.”  Unfortunately, Coco did not see it that way.

The first powerhouse female designer of the modern fashion industry, Chanel offers a seductive example for women.  She possessed beauty, brains and wiles, and always called her own shots, never letting any man get the better of her. But Chaplin’s mockery of Hitler and message of resistance hang palpably over the show, leaving us to conclude that Chanel’s little black dress would have been much more beautiful on a woman of character.

*Hal Vaughan, Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, Knopf, 2011.

 

Molly Grogan

A theatre critic and translator currently based in Hong Kong.  She spent 25 years in Paris and New York City, where she was the Off-Broadway editor for Exeunt Magazine and a theatre critic for The Village Voice.

Coordinated and Edited by:

          

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
04.10.2019 (Fri) - 05.10.2019 (Sat)
20:00
05.10.2019 (Sat) - 06.10.2019 (Sun)
15:00
Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
location
$280, $200
DATE
04.10.2019 (Fri) - 05.10.2019 (Sat)
20:00
05.10.2019 (Sat) - 06.10.2019 (Sun)
15:00
PRICE
$280, $200

Tickets available from 5 July onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on internet, mobile app and credit card telephone booking.

 

Discount Schemes

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients.  Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first come, first served basis.

 

Group Booking Discount *

For each purchase of standard tickets for stage programme(s) in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:

10% off for 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

 

‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series Package Discount*

For each purchase of standard tickets for different stage programmes in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:

10 % off for any 2 programmes; 15 % off for any 3 programmes; 20% off for 4 or more programmes.

 

*Not applicable to tickets for all lectures and workshops in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series.

 Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers.  Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.

One ticket per person regardless of age.  Audience members aged 6 and above are welcome.  Children under the age of 6 will not be admitted.

 

Internet Booking  www.urbtix.hk

Mobile Ticketing App My URBTIX

Credit Card Telephone Booking  2111 5999

Ticketing Enquiries  3761 6661

Programme Enquiries 2268 7323

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
28.09.2019 (Sat)
15:00
9/F Forum, eslite Causeway Bay store,
Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
location
Free Admission
DATE
28.09.2019 (Sat)
15:00
PRICE
Free Admission

Date:

28.9.2019 (Sat)

Time:

3pm – 4:30pm

Topic:

Puppeting Coco Chanel: Crossover of the Art of Puppetry and a Fashion Icon

Moderator:

Bernice Chan (General Manager, IATC-HK)

Speakers:

- Sonia Au (PhD. in Languages, Literature and Societies, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris)

- Lam Teng Teng (Founder and Artistic Director of Rolling Puppet Alternative Theatre (Macao))

- Kevin Chio (Founder of Rolling Puppet Alternative Theatre (Macao))

 

Conducted in Cantonese

 

Free Admission.  Limited seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Organised and Coordinated by

IATC logo          HKADC sponsored logo for IATC

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
06.10.2019 (Sun)
11:00
Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
location
$80
DATE
06.10.2019 (Sun)
11:00
PRICE
$80

Tickets for Backstage Tour are sold out.  Thank you for your support!

 

Coco Chanel used whatever was present to create something new.  This vision of re-functioning objects and materials is also the core of this activity, in which the outstanding European performers will take the participants behind the scenes, and guide them in creating puppets out of everyday objects and bringing them to life.

 

Date: 6.10.2019 (Sun)
Time: 11am
Venue: Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

 

The running time is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes

 

In English with simple Cantonese Interpretation

Meet-the-artist Session

Date:

4.10.2019 (Fri)

Conducted in English

 

 

Post-performance Talk

Date:

5.10.2019 (Sat)

Venue:

Lobby, 4/F, Hong Kong Cultural Centre (Outside Studio Theatre)

Topic:

An Innovative Soul – The Art of Coco Chanel and French Culture

Speakers:

Sonia Au (PhD. in Languages, Literature and Societies, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris)

Conducted in Cantonese

Ticket holders of Coco Chanel are welcome to join, please bring along the ticket or ticket stub for admission.

Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
  • date04.10.2019 (Fri) - 05.10.2019 (Sat) 20:00
  • date05.10.2019 (Sat) - 06.10.2019 (Sun) 15:00
  • price$280, $200
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House Programme
DATE
VENUE
PRICE
04.10.2019 (Fri) - 05.10.2019 (Sat)
20:00
05.10.2019 (Sat) - 06.10.2019 (Sun)
15:00
Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
location
$280, $200
DATE
04.10.2019 (Fri) - 05.10.2019 (Sat)
20:00
05.10.2019 (Sat) - 06.10.2019 (Sun)
15:00
PRICE
$280, $200
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