Choreography Ed Wubbe
“Kathleen has a big cunt” – The title of the highly successful dance piece, Kathleen, was inspired by a photograph of graffiti taken by Ed Wubbes costume designer, Pamela Homoet. Prior to their up-valuation into Pop Art, graffiti were regarded as an expression of anti-establishmentarianism, openly opposing the fixed structures being forced on society during this period.1 “Kathleen has a big cunt” on the backdrop functions as an omnipresent reminder of a lingering rebellious potential and sets the tone of the piece.
As the curtain opens the stage is already filled with tension simmering between the six women lined up behind a large table dividing them from disaffected male youths scattered across the room, observing their moves. Their motionlessness is penetrated by the women who begin, at first, a very delicate choreography that accelerates rapidly in speed and intensity. Standing side by side, unfolding a fascinating power borne of their energetic cohesive choreography, this scene concludes when one of them finds her way to the other side, the male side, where one of the gang awaits. With the touch of these two individuals, a non-verbal debate between the dancers is released, characterized by understated eroticism, simmering violence and blank despair. Dancing variously in couples, trios and groups, the interactions of the dancers oscillate between affection and repulsion; verging on the brink of coercion and madness contrasted by moments of tender intimacy and endearment. Each of the dancers play a unique, and in some cases extreme or even borderline character. Ed Wubbes inspiration for these characters were images of American criminals and their delinquent methods. Each solitary artist has the freedom to explore and indulge the interpretation of their individual character, yet an integrity and power is realized in the unity of the group scenes.
Aesthetically placed in the rough and dark style of the early 1990's, the score is lifted from the music of British industrial-rock-band Godflesh. Their distinctive throbbing percussion drives the choreography and intensifies the atmosphere of rebelliousness. In contrast, a sparse live piano performance composed by Ruben Stern, serves as a thematic guide throughout the piece – calming the scenery as if a desperate attempt to return all to order and sanity. Fragments of an interview recording of Henry Lee Lucas, an American serial killer who was active from the 1950s until the 1970s, is used to chilling effect, underscoring the latent madness within the dancers.
Premièred in 1992, the piece enjoyed great success throughout the Netherlands. Since then Kathleen has been performed internationally and continues to garner ever enthusiastic reactions from the public, including for example at the Joyce Theatre in New York and theatres in Indonesia and Germany.
1 Baudrillard, Jean: Kool Killer : les graffiti de New York ou l'insurrection par les siges, 1974.
Choreography: Ed Wubbe
Music: Godflesh, Ruben Stern
Costumes & Setdesign: Pamela Homoet
Lightdesign: Benno Veen
Lenght: 35 min.
Dancers: 6 Female / 10 Male
World Premiere: 1992 Amsterdam / 1994 (final version) Rotterdam
All photographs taken by Hans Gerritsen.