About four years ago, me and my friend Sara were at the Melbourne International Arts Festival with a group of students. As always when we do these theatre trips, you try and cram in as many shows as possible. You pick your key shows and then build the rest of the performances around those. That’s how we found ourselves watching That Night Follows Day by Tim Etchells. Since that day the play has been a permanent fixture in our classrooms and on our stage. It was funny and poignant and certainly left the adult audience rather stunned. That Night Follows Day explores the dynamics between grownups and kids, and was written for adult audiences—but it’s designed to be performed by children. You might say that it uses a group of young people as a giant mouthpiece that allows older people to reflect on their own behaviour and impact.
You feed us. You choose clothes for us. You lay down the law. You sing to us. You watch us sleep. You make us promises and sometimes hope we will not remember them. You tell us stories you hope will frighten us, but not too much. You try to tell us about the world. You explain to us the meaning of war. You whisper when you think we can’t hear. You explain to us that night follows day.
The video clip below is in Flemish, the language of the original production. In fact the script for the play comes in 4 languages – Dutch, English, German and French. It doesn’t matter that the video isn’t in English, the power of the piece still shines through.
This blogger really gives a flavour of the peice: Letter from Belgium
Tim Etchells is an incredible and very talented contemporary theatre practitioner and is perhaps best known for his work with his company, Forced Entertainment. He writes an amazing blog which is always worth dipping in and out of:
Also if you want to know more about Forced Entertainment’s work you can visit their site here which has lots of video of their work
That Night Follows Day is in fact a quietly revolutionary work which, with immaculate artfulness, strips theatre back to the barest essentials. Performance is the simplest utterance, and the text – a beautifully modulated series of variations on a theme – is a sequence of statements.