An insatiable hunger for unlikely facts: it’s something we all share, but children of a certain age are especially drawn to the 'crazy but true' genre, and liable to amass and trade such extraordinary information before eventually recounting it to peers, parents – passing it on...
Crazy But True is an interactive installation for children from ages 8 – 11: a panel of experts in conversation. The children, as these 'experts', are given their lines via headphones, repeating what they hear into microphones, without rehearsal. What results is a rolling list of extraordinary facts disguised as a conversation – some serious, others plain funny.
Sometimes it seems the world gets weirder every year. Crazy But True exposes our part in that – us, the humans, who have gone before them and who now sit before them, in the seats, watching and listening.
From the outside, the reality of the situation is transparent: children agreeing ‘to say whatever they're told to say'. Information being funnelled into their ears, through their brains, and out of their mouths. If, despite the fun, this seems problematic, the provocation is consistent with the wider aim of the work: to face up to an inevitable challenge... For many adults it’s hard to imagine a child growing up and absorbing this kind of information. Bringing a child into the world is perhaps the easy part. More difficult is how to bring the world into a child.
As the facts switch and roll, we start to feel the fearlessness of a child's wonder alongside their willingness to absorb what the world has to offer, no matter how crazy it seems. For the adults watching, there’s a sense of being both ’outside' this game and yet deeply involved in (or responsible for) the world it describes. For the kids, it’s above all a funny and engaging fantasy of owning the kind of knowledge they may already be collecting. Some may even develop a sense that there are reasons why some of the information is not often heard.
The performance will take place from 4 to 7 pm, and you can attend it any time and remain as long as you feel like.
Discussion with Ant Hampton after the performance in the New Stage foyer.
In Czech without translation.
Ant Hampton (British, b.1975 Fribourg, Switzerland) made his first show in 1998 under the name Rotozaza – a performance-based project which ended up spanning theatre, installation, intervention and writing-based works. His work, though varied in tone and content, has consistently played with a tension between liveness and automation. Most often, this has involved guiding people through unrehearsed performance situations, and since 2007 it has included the audience themselves within structures loosely defined as Autoteatro. Rotozaza became a partnership with Silvia Mercuriali, and ended in 2009 after their last production, Etiquette, which was also the first Autoteatro work. Since then Ant has worked with Glen Neath, Joji Koyama, Isambard Khroustaliov (Sam Britton), Tim Etchells, Gert-Jan Stam, Britt Hatzius and Christophe Meierhans to create the works listed here, which continue to tour internationally – over 60 different language versions exist of the various Autoteatro productions created so far.
Other solo projects include ongoing experimentation around 'live portraiture/documentary' as The Other People: structured encounters with people from non-theatrical milieu. This strand of Hampton’s work has more recently begun to merge with the Autoteatro form (Cue China, Someone Else...). He was head dramaturge for 'Projected Scenarios' at Manifesta7 Biennial for Contemporary Art and has contributed to projects by others, including Ivana Müller, Anna Rispoli, Jerome Bel and Forced Entertainment.
Ant has also worked as coach/mentor for artist programmes such as MAKE (Ireland), A-PASS, Sound Image Culture (Belgium) and Dasarts (Netherlands), where in collaboration with Edit Kaldor he designed and mentored a 10-week block, ‘Every Nerve’. He has created and led workshops worldwide, including 'Fantasy Interventions – Writing for Site-Specific Performance', and ‘Raising Voice in Public Space’ with Edit Kaldor. His recent work with Christophe Meierhans was to create an ‘automatic workshop’, which expands on the ideas behind Someone Else and his earlier work with Kaldor.