All audiences, starting from age 11
This work draws inspiration from Against Nature, a decadent literary oddity written by JK Huysmans in 1884 in which the main character, des Esseintes, escapes his reality and goes on to recreate one. He surrounds himself with strange and mysterious things, including live and dead animals as well as plants selected for their monstrous and artificial aspect.
Convinced that « Nature » no longer has anything to offer to humanity, he doesn’t live “with” but “above” his surroundings. He encapsulates this regrettably very contemporary relationship in a poetic and troubling way. The microcosm he creates and intends to tame and shape eventually dies (his turtle), grows away from him (his flowers), or unsettles him (he experiences olfactory hallucinations). He then returns to “civilization” and chooses not to adjust to this new surrounding reality. By refusing to conform to the unfamiliar, he will not complete or continue his transformation.
This ending, truncated of the possible fantastic departures it suggested, inspired a desire to imagine a loose adaptation of Against Nature based on the following premise:
What if des Esseintes could not break out of what he initiated and that his body envelope – affected by its environment – continued its disappearance/transformation process
The central theme of Against Nature offers uncharted avenues for magic and puppetry exploration where the “human” status, a core element of Yôkaï’s creative process, resonates tremendously.
The link between the soul and the envelope will be conveyed through smoke manipulation involving lightning or gradual disappearances/appearances, with smoke embodying this transitory place where presences live. Finally, the breath of life – with creatures initially bereft of it and now brought to life – will round off this reflection, highlighted by the highly symbolic title of the show: Still Life.