Philippe Quesne Fantasmagoria


Philippe Quesne orchestrates an actor-less cabaret for lone pianos, set to music by Pierre Desprats. He brings us a theatrical attraction composed of fleeting appearances and magic lanterns, a workshop-world which is host to projections of all sorts. 

The shadow of Roberton, the instigator of gloomy evenings made possible by ingenious optical devices, hangs over Fantasmagoria. It was he who promised, in the aftermath of the Terror, to bring the dead back to life and invoke ventriloquist-inhabited spirits. These encounters were in response to anxiety at the time, and were a forerunner to the overwhelming success of the spirit mediums, romanticised versions of hell, smooth-talkers and suggestive illusions of early cinema. By means of a dialogue with these two universes, Philippe Quesne presents us with a beguiling theatrical form peopled with phantoms, ghostly ancestors and clairvoyant poets. The music by Pierre Desprats brings to life a whole graveyard of mismatched mechanical pianos, celibate machines haunted by phosphorescent music set to the rhythm of macabre dances and incantatory wafts of smoke. The French director, who is used to breathing life into minority, possible other worlds, unveils a melancholic, theatrical, memory-based meta-world, a fairground-like ritual for exorcising fatality.