Charles Pas graduated from the Mime program at the Amsterdam University of the Arts in 2020. He is one of the selected makers of ICK-Artist Space’s New Adventures residency program 2021. For one month, these makers use the ICK studio as a laboratory for dance research and creation, with artistic and productional support from ICK. On October 15 & 16, Charles Pas, together with Tamir Eting will present the outcome of the residency as a work in Progress presentation at Theatre-studio De Vlugt in Amsterdam. Noa Appelman, intern at ICK-Artist Space visited Charles in the rehearsal studio and asked him some questions about his work and inspiration.
You use the New Adventures residency to work on a new creation called Motel. What will this be about?
Motel is about a woman of whom we know nothing. We don’t know where she comes from or where she’s going. She enters a motel room; we don’t know if she’s been there for long or if she just got there. At the same time, we see her on video sitting in a car, which keeps on driving, without destination.
We stage a kind of existential crisis, and her multiple attempts to fill her turmoil and emptiness. This stems from my own restlessness when I have nothing to do. I wanted to see how we could stage total emptiness, even a panic attack. So how do you end up embracing that emptiness? How can you find freedom in nothingness, in the total liminal, an in-between space?
I’ve heard you mention the word in-between space many times in rehearsals today. Is that motel room an in-between space for you?
Yes, it is. A motel room is a space without purpose. It’s a place where you’re on the go, so it’s never a goal in itself. I found that an interesting space to use because, for me, it also illustrates that restlessness perfectly.
So, is that also where your inspiration for Motel came from?
Absolutely. For me, the inspiration came from liminal spaces, because in theater I’m always very interested in a form of rite of passage. A liminal space is a place of transition, of waiting, and not knowing.
But during the process I discovered I am maybe even more interested in an emotional liminal space. A mental void where you are no longer able to define yourself. That you are in between what lies behind you and what is coming next. This triggers a tremendous restlessness.
That made me wonder of what, in our world, is the most concrete translation of a liminal space that can also function as a metaphor for this mental state. For me that is a motel. Located on the edge of a highway, where you never really want to be, or never fully arrive but you have to sleep there.
You told me before that you want to bridge the gap between performance and ritual in your work. Can you elaborate on that?
I notice that in our modern society, we are very much in need of rituals. Especially in an urban environment where social cohesion is often lacking. Rituals and traditions play a huge role in a more exchange-based environment. I feel strongly that performance is ideally placed to play a role in creating new rituals that resonate with our current society.
What always affects me the most is when people can’t look each other in the eye, can’t take off their social mask. I still see this far too often. Encounters between people are the most important thing for me and performances can play a big role in that. I also see a lot of social disruption, for example migrants or refugees who can’t find a connection here. In my opinion, performance can serve to present something new, a new way of relating to each other.
If you had to describe your work in general in five key words, what would they be?
Attempt. Everything I do is an attempt…
Magical realism: in the definition of something happening that seems out of the ordinary, but that comes from real motives.
My work is also always very cinematic, mostly through the use of music. I always work intensely with musicians and with a kind of total experience within music.
Finally, I am looking for physical virtuosity in all my work. That sounds very general, but I always love to see how people try to push their limits.
Your background is mainly in mime, what attracted you to a dance-oriented trajectory at ICK?
I’m in between dance and theater. When I am on the floor myself, I draw a lot of inspiration from dance theatre, like the work of Peeping Tom, which I find one of the most interesting dance companies. I am looking for a combination between the conceptual concreteness of mime and the emotional layering that dance theater can have. I love boundless movement, virtuosity within movement and that’s why I think it fits with ICK. What I’m making now is not necessarily dance, but it does start from movement and physicality.
What do you hope to learn or take away from your time here at ICK?
Above all, time to research and create. In addition, I really like the expertise that I have access to. It is very nice to be able to talk about the work with a dramaturge and dance experts, because they always look at it from a different angle. I also hope to get more into the dance field, because at the moment I don’t really have an entrance yet, because of my mime background.
It’s funny, I really work with two different brain parts. One of them is more performative, absurdist and magical realistic. The other one is more focused on the physical and the groundbreaking. I still have to explore these much further and put them in the right angles.
And a final question: with what kind of feeling do you hope that the people who come to watch walk out of the theatre?
A very awkward feeling, but within that, also a glimmer of hope. That’s what I always try to do.
More info and tickets: click here
Read also the interview with Tamir Eting