Der Spy – SET (Staycation Blog)

Der Spy

Der Spy













This August SET were in residency at CDS for a Staycation. Here is a text about a robot making its way into performance:

How my son’s innocent robot Dash became the infamous Der Spy.

SET have been lucky enough to have space to develop our current production, WE, at Chisenhale over the last few weeks. Each session has seen big developments for us, be it confirming new collaborators being on board, making headway in developing the script, dramaturgy, how choreography integrates, negotiating technical requirements and production details – so much!

Casting to suit the newly developed script has also been discussed.

In preparation for our second session at Chisenhale, I was meeting our dramaturg  Maureen Thomas at her home nearby the King’s Cross station. The night before, roaming through my ideas about chaos and order, city and nature (which underpin the ‘ideological’ side of our production, WE), I came across a YouTube video in which Terence McKenna, talking about synchronicity, described a peculiar event he witnessed when he was visiting an Amazonian tribe.

The tribe was going to embark on a very important mission and the chief people were gathering to discuss the matter. All of a sudden a big spider popped out from nowhere and fell in the middle of the gathering. Instead of panic, the group received the animal with enthusiasm: Spider! Of course, let’s go to the village and take Spider with us!

Apparently, Spider was a man who lived in the village. The expedition, accompanied with Spider, went on and was very successful, accomplishing – whatever the mission was about!

The morale of the story was that the tribe chief men knew that the spider was a sign from a higher plane of reality that in order to succeed in their enterprise they needed expertise of a person whose name coincidentally was “Spider”.

When I came to Maureen, the first thing I did was to go and wash my hands – and there in the bathroom, just above the sink, voila! – A nice, tiny, golden spider hanging from the ceiling!

“Maureen, what a beautiful, tiny spider you have in your bathroom”. I started my story about the spider and Spider – and synchronicity:

“What a pity that our culture has lost this ability to read the signs which are apparently always all around us!”

The evening went on and we were discussing the characters from WE and its surveillance based culture. Maureen wanted to have a spying drone, something almost like a pet, which would cheerfully accompany S4711, a real double spy from the story.

My instinctive thought was “How on earth are we gonna convince the health and safety officer in the theatre that we are going to use a drone safely, and how on earth could a drone could be cheerful?”. But I left my doubts aside hoping that some solution would appear and solve the problem unexpectedly – or more realistically, that we could just forget about the drone.

When the main ideas from WE again became the theme of our discussion; our inability to understand the nature, and the need to listen to its hidden signs – the story about spiders emerged again. In a flash of a moment I remembered a toy robot, “Dash”, resembling a three legged spider, which we bought for our son Isak to teach him programming. “Of course, the spider. Der Spy!”.

Now we have a robot among our cast.

Jo and Malachy are choreographing scenes for him. Maureen is writing the lines. And I’m directing Der Spy. Edward Gordon Craig’s dream about Übermarionette becomes reality in a moment of synchronicity!

Der Spy will be making his theatre debut at Camden People’s Theatre in October. WE hope you’ll come to meet him and witness the world of The One State.