#COLONIE.S, an immersive show created by Frédéric Deslias and Norbert Merjagnan
A bewildering and immersive theatre experience, #COLONIE.S is a science-fiction tale that beckons us to wander through buildings transformed by augmented reality techniques.
A cross-disciplinary team
#COLONIE.S arose from a meeting between science-fiction author Norbert Merjagnan (Tours de Samarante, Treis, altitude Zéro) and director Frédéric Deslias, who trained in electronics, music, and theatre. Together they preside over Le Clair Obscur company, a self-proclaimed “dystopian laboratory” that has recently set itself apart by staging texts by Alain Damasio (Les furtifs, 2020), or hybrid writing like #Exoterritoires. To create #COLONIE.S, an in-situ augmented reality experience, they surrounded themselves with a cross-disciplinary team made up of Charles Ayats (game designer), Yann Rayon (developer and motion designer), Jacques Boüault (lighting designer), and Jana Klein (actress).
#COLONIE.S immerses spectators in a science-fiction universe to explore an abandoned space colony. They are encouraged to put on suits and use headsets and a smartphone app before wandering around a vast site looking for clues and audio documents. A dystopian ecological tale, #COLONIE.S tells the story of a space colony founded by humans determined to create a new model of society that would be equal and respectful of living beings. But the station fell into ruin, leaving behind an “open and non-capitalist” collaborative artificial intelligence that will guide spectators to help them better understand what happened there.
#Exoterritoires, the previous project by Le Clair Obscur, offered spectators the opportunity to discover their own town in a new light, as explorers from the future. #COLONIE.S once again immerses them in real places, but this time enclosed, like the École Normale Supérieure in Saclay. Augmented with decorative and lighting features, the buildings invite spectators to wander through them as a fragmented narrative unfolds based on audio-logs and inspired by video games. #COLONIE.S is an entire event blending accessories, sound installations, actors as astronauts, a smartphone app, and special effects.
A disturbing strangeness
Central themes in the literary work of Norbert Merjagnan — who did the writing — foresight and ecological crisis are the central themes in #COLONIE.S. Because it unfolds in real spaces, adapted to the buildings where it plays out, this immersive theatre experience superimposes two levels of interpretation. It is both a gaze fixed on our current experience and a look forward to possible futures. While spectators progress through familiar spaces, the narrative, which takes place primarily through voice and sound, weaves links between different layers of reality. A bewildering experience that plays with the limits of our perception.
Frédéric Deslias participated in the webinar "Arts and sciences" of the Institut français. This webinar proposed to highlight the links between arts, science and technology.
The next performances of #COLONIE.S will take place at the WIP in Caen-Colombelles from 23 to 26 June, the 24 et 25 of September at the Cube in Issy les Moulineaux and from 17 to 19 February 2022 at the ENS Paris-Saclay.