by Zimmermann & de Perrot
A society’s discards – useless husks of its lifestyle – a leftover cardboard carton: from this, the choreographer and the musician begin to construct a fragile entity that ends up being their own stage set. A vibrant, self-sustaining construction takes shape, which they lovingly, trustingly allow to grow. With a flick of the wrist, a cut, a fold, a bend and a break, the space takes shape for a theatre, a stage, a home where they find identity and meaning. The cardboard is light, pliable, manageable, insulating. But it has the instability of a temporary arrangement. This fragility resembles that of human existence
A sort of nesting boxes of events ensues when Martin Zimmermann and Dimitri de Perrot construct their new existence, as Zimmermann promotes himself and becomes a modern attraction: human being as marionette, curio, illusionist or as Man dressed up as Man. A carousel, a stage, a dance floor – resembling a huge turntable. The musician cranks it up, it becomes the display apparatus, and the characters themselves can no longer recognize the border between voluntary and involuntary exposure.
Attempting to conform to modern life, Zimmermann’s character teeters on the edge of frustration and melancholy, only to turn himself, within the same turn, into a laughter-filled, poetic parody of being human, as his Self, going around and around like the needle on a turntable, edges ever closer. The musician Dimitri de Perrot plays the environment. But the music also creates the dreamworld, the secret inner world of the „other me“ of Zimmermann’s split character, and develops into a character itself – the music character – that intervenes, disturbs, reacts, caresses and comforts.
Gaff Aff is a carousel of life, a poetic, contemporary orchestration of music, circus, fine arts and choreography, where the music character, the movement character and the dynamic scenography enter into an intensive interaction.
The theater of Zimmermann & de Perrot (2006-2017) is based on precise observation, humorous repetition, distortion, and the artistically accomplished transformation of everyday interactions, giving the little things in life a big platform. Using bodies, objects and music Zimmermann & de Perrot compose funny, unconventional theatre pieces within a changing scenography. At the centre of their work is the human being – with all ist human fragility and contradictions. Their characters are driven to make the impossible possible. They are very physical and possess a marvelous artisanry as peformers. Their wordless theater is full of absurd humor and a deep love of detail. Objects are living beings. People are things. It’s not always obvious what it’s about, so you are compelled to think in unaccustomed ways.
The magic world of the directing team Zimmermann & de Perrot has performed over the years in renowned theaters and festivals across Europe and around the world: Théâtre de la Ville Paris, Festival d‘Avignon, Barbican London, Sydney Opera House, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Grec Festival Barcelona, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Usine C Montréal, Hong Kong Cultural Center, De Singel Antwerpen, Greek Festival Athens, among others.
The two artists tour and create in a very intense rhythm; they have several shows on tour at the same time, performing in most of them. They are being talked about in the international press – magazines, journals and newspapers like the New York Times, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, El Pais, Libération, Les Inrockuptibles, ELLE, Télérama, The Guardian… In Le Nouvel Observateur Raphaël de Gubernatis celebrated their work as “poetic extravagance – dreamlike and acutely intelligent”. Thomas Hahn of the German magazine Ballettanz writes that every Zimmermann & de Perrot piece “breaks through all aesthetic boundaries, including the limits of tradition. Splendid!” Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov invited Zimmermann & de Perrot to New York. He described their theater as follows: Zimmermann & de Perrot offer the whole package, extraordinary design concepts and brilliant performances. I was really impressed. They are real innovators in my view. Both of them are great, great masters.” And Rosita Boisseau of Le Monde says that just as the style of Pina Bausch became known as “Tanz-Theater”, a new term could be invented for Zimmermann & de Perrot: “Theater-Circus”.
Zimmermann & de Perrot have won several awards, including the Foundation Heinz Spoerli Award 2013, the Swiss Choreography Prize (2009), the Cultural Advancement Prize of Canton Zurich (2010), the Swiss Design Prize (2008, 2010 and 2011 in the category of set design), the Swiss Innovation Prize (2008), among others.
Their team – on and off stage – presently includes about 40 acrobats, dancers, actors, technicians and many others; they also run their own production company. Zimmermann & de Perrot are independent and are not bound to any institution.
Concept, direction, stage design and interpretation: Zimmermann & de Perrot
Composition: Dimitri de Perrot
Choreography: Martin Zimmermann
Light design: Ursula Degen
Sound, electronics: Andy Neresheimer
Light direction: Sammy Marchina / Jérôme Bueche / Ursula Degen
Sound direction: Felix Lämmli / Franck Bourgoin / Andy Neresheimer
Construction Decor: Pius Aellig /Jean-Marc Gaillard
Packaging research: Claude Gloor
Artistic collaboration: Aurélien Bory / Arnaud Clavet / Goury / Aline Muheim
Dramaturgy collaboration: Jlien Dütschler
Technical director: Ursula Degen
Administration and distribution: Alain Vuignier
International producer: Claire Béjanin
Photographie: Mario del Curto
Artistic direction: Dimitri de Perrot, Martin Zimmermann
Production: Verein Zimmermann & de Perrot
Coproduction: Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Le Merlan, Scène nationale à Marseille, Theater Chur
Théâtre associé: PiuFestival – Brescia
With the support of: Culture Department City of Zurich, Department of Culture Canton Zurich, Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Migros Culture Percentage, Sophie und Karl Binding Foundation, Ernst Göhner Foundation, SSA – swiss society of authors, Foundation BNP Paribas
Final rehearsals at Théâtre de Vidy-Lausanne with Premier on 23 October 2006