That Night Follows Day
Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 1–Sat 3 May
‘My own observations show that we have rated the powers of children too low and that there is no knowing what they cannot be given credit for.’ Freud believed growing up became a matter of submitting to harsh and tyrannical rules which ignore the child’s real nature. Tim Etchells’ latest production explores these rules through the eyes of the children themselves.
‘The power of adults is huge. As a child we are all too familiar with the word “No”: “No not now, no you’re too young, no you can’t . . .”’ According to director Etchells, the young performers enjoy nothing more than parroting these adult excuses back at their audience in his new play with Victoria, the Belgian company behind last year’s powerful production, Aalst.
Etchells explains: ‘Victoria invited me to create a piece with young people for adult audiences. The project I proposed involved a chorus of children speaking to the audience about the way adults shape, make and create their world. So, the piece constructs this enormous catalogue beginning with: “You wash us, you feed us, you watch us while we’re sleeping.”’
The children tell the story through a mixture of dialogue, monologue and movement. ‘One of the starting images for the piece was the idea of either a choir or a school photo where the children are expected to stand on their best behaviour and read and speak in unison. It’s a very organised and controlled image, which, over the course of the piece, the children find a way to disrupt. On the one hand it’s about this big machinery, which is socialising kids, but next to that it is also a little celebration about how the kids as individuals, or as a force, find ways to expose the cracks of those systems.’
This concept will undoubtedly remind audiences of their own childhoods and the way we can all affect the childhood of those around us. ‘The whole thing very much confronts you as an adult spectator because they are playing back what you see and do and asking why,’ says Etchells. ‘So we create a comedy and drama from that confrontation.’
Having developed the piece in Ghent with a Belgian cast, Etchells admits that, while the language barrier was a challenge at first, he’s had a ‘fantastic’ experience working with Victoria. ‘They are genuinely interested in art and following initiatives and really trying to create space for new ideas and it’s a huge pleasure to work in that context.’