Forced Entertainment

Quizoola!

Quizoola! is an invitation to play a game of questions asked and answers given. Like any game it needs to be played live. To play the game (which is also called a performance) use the text which is 2000 questions printed on sheets of paper.

Two players in dirty work clothes and smeared clown-make-up sit six hours in a room inside a circle of lights, taking turns to choose questions and to make up answers. Questions can be asked in any order (at random or by choice). Questions can be repeated; to get a better answer, to get the same answer, or for any other reason. New questions are made up or follow-up questions may also be asked. The text is simply a catalogue of possibilities, a list of suggestions. Answers can be true or false, long or short, playful or serious. Lies and mistakes can tell as much about a person as 'true' answers. A boring answer might be better sometimes than a supposedly interesting one.

Quizoola! is not interested in true truth, but perhaps in versions of it. Quizoola! makes one essential demand: PLAY THE GAME.

Quizoola! is about the need for knowledge, certainty and definition through language. It is about the questionings of lovers, interrogators, quizmasters, children, philosophers and others; how all these questionings are at the same time different and at the same time the same. It is about the people in the room and what happens between them. It is about the relationship between people and the facts of our lives ­ history, botany, ontology, language, sex, death, the universe, cities, money - the whole of it. About what is known, thought or felt and how it can be shared. About the nature of language and how it can, or cannot, describe or define or deal with the truth of our lives.

When we see performers making live decisions we get to see them revealed, we get to see them 'truthfully' in some way that is at the very edges and the very heart of theatre. In Quizoola! we see them without the defences of a role, a narrative, a character. Slipping between strategies and possibilities, jumping between versions of themselves, with only the opportunity of a game, a set of rules and a desire to be in this room now and to meet some people. The game needs players not actors. Less than that doesn't interest us at all.

12am: Awake & Looking Down

I wanted to ask a question: were cities and their endless crowds always about the chance of disappearance or transformation for you too? Or perhaps, about changing your body or changing your name? Did you ever stare at the crowds from a vantage point above Victoria or King's Cross Station? Or perhaps, like us, watch the crowds in so many movies mill and disappear in Grand Central and LAX? Didn't each moving figure touch or thrill you with a need to go with them, to abandon your life and step into theirs? Didn't each of these figures crossing the stage of the concourse fill you with a story, making theatre as one only dreams it?

Five performers with a vast store of jumble sale clothing and a pile of cardboard signs which bear the names of characters - real, imaginary, from fiction, from history - characters that came from the great crowd of some scrappy urban collective unconscious. A crowd containing: FRANK (DRUNK), THE EX-WIFE OF THE EX-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, A BLOKE WHO'S JUST BEEN SHOT, A NINE YEAR OLD SHEPHERD BOY, AN E.U. TRADE NEGOTIATOR, and A BOXER WITH A TORN RETINA.

By changing costumes and changing names the performers venture endless possibilities for and of themselves whilst the constant rearrangement of character, signs, costume and spatial positions creates something like a narrative kaleidoscope; throwing up stories, potential stories, meetings, potential meetings and coincidences. JACK RUBY crosses the stage his hands under his coat as AN AIR STEWARDESS FORGETTING HER DIVORCE sits crying, wrapped in a towel... THE HYPNOTISED GIRL stares into space as A YOUNG WHITE RACIST ELECTRICAL ENGINEER makes a hasty Fascist salute... ELVIS PRESLEY THE DEAD SINGER walks over the stage and AN ANGEL, SENT FROM HEAVEN TO THE EARTH stalks him, following. At the sides of the stage there are always further performers changing costumes, choosing signs, watching the action for an opportunity or a space...

Richard Foreman speaks about his theatre pieces as 'reverberation machines'. In the studio I would watch 12am as a kind of endless coincidence machine. I would watch it for hours - unable to stop it somehow - always eager to see what it 'threw up' next, what they did next, what they thought of next. Watching I'm gripped by the process of them playing: by watching them think, watching them stuck, watching them try, watching them find. The world as its shown here is constant invention, constant failure, constant effort, constant flux. What better way to talk about the world we live in now?


Part of Live Culture at Tate Modern