In her piece commissioned by the Salzburg Festspiele in 2006, Meg Stuart approaches the entertainment industry and is inspired by Hollywood musicals. After all, life in a musical is exciting; beautiful, perfect people dance and sing without ever showing their real selves. Failure doesn’t exist; if so, then at best as a lesson to advance on the path to success. Right?
In It’s not funny, Stuart discovers the painfully funny potential of intentions that miss their mark and the resulting consequences. Failure, which she usually works with in a serious way, becomes an oversized theatrical image: a colossal stairway presents more of a risk for falling than ascending – it draws attention to embarrassments and missteps. A stand-up comedian tells jokes without punch lines; six performers dance an uncoordinated chorus line in flaming yellow wigs and do dangerous stunts. Nothing is perfect and glitteringly seductive here. The laughter is painful and the comedy is doomed to fail.
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