Die Originale –
Jean-Michel Guy


Workshop description
Main research field: dramaturgy as the art of being aware of public effects.
Main topic: the meanings and effects of the German word “treffen”. The participants shall experiment with new ways of looking at each other’s propositions, in order to find new “meeting/touching points” (or better “Treffpunkte”)

Jean-Michel Guy
© Milan Szypura

Jean-Michel Guy

Jean-Michel Guy researches in the field of sociology at the French Ministry of Culture. He was Director of the circus company La Scabreuse (until 2013). Since then he has created and toured “Les circonférences”, performative lectures on circus disciplines. Guy teaches critical analysis in circus schools and is the author of many articles and books on circus.

Further information about the workshop

Main research objectives

My main research objectives in circus are, right now, dramaturgy and the future. Dramaturgy in the sense of “taking an audience / spectator into account or not” or better: the art of dealing with effects. Concerning the future of the circus: What will it be in 2050, what we want it to be, what we don’t want it to be.

It is easier to say what my goals are not: I don’t care about weight, suspension, gravity, precision, punk, the Afghan way of doing circus, pure circus or impure circus, big top, trapeze or new ways of juggling, speaking on stage, being a woman … I mean: Everything interests me!!!!

But, my field of research is mainly about dramaturgy. And the future. And the participants of a lab that I would lead should at least know that. It will be all about being aware of the effect one produces on stage. And the future. No, I am kidding. I absolutely do not know what will happen and shall happen. So: These two key words, dramaturgy and future, act as “background” perspectives. But, I want to define some elements:

Working method

  1. Each of the 5-6 participants will practise a single circus discipline (no double trapeze, no hand to hand)
  2. The 5-6 disciplines are all different.
  3. The participants (if possible) don’t know each other or have never worked together.
  4. One main theme during the three first days of the lab: “treffen”– a meeting, encounter, gathering between people (actors) who don’t know each other or who already know each other.
  5. One method: Each of the participants will play the “outside eye” (dramaturgy/direction …) for the rest of the group during improvisations. I shall give the frame of such improvisations like limited duration, the presence or absence of a particular object or apparatus. We’ll then have long debriefing conversations about how it worked, both for the participants “on stage” and for the “outside eye”.
  6. The fourth day: A new common theme of work, more precise, will emerge. I do not want to set it: it could be anything such as a state of body – heavy, round etc. –, a subject – fear, refugees, Italy etc. – or a space etc.
    The group will have identified this “meeting point” during the first three days. So, the lab is really open. It’s all about two things: “treffen” (what it means, does, produces etc.) and “dramaturgy” (through the inside/outside position). We will speak a lot (English, German, French, Italian … with hands and eyes …). Concepts such as “new”, “old”, “common”, “elitist” will be concretely improved. But first of all it is about “treffen”: The German concept of “treffen” is unique, and untranslatable. In French we translate both “sich begegnen” and “treffen” with the same verb “rencontrer”, but the two German notions are very different. “Treffen” means something very precise, like a target. “Treffpunkt” is a kind of pleonasm: you can only “treffen” one point in another person. The image behind “treffen” is that of an arrow. In “encounter”, “rencontre” and “begegnen” the common root is “against”. So, it is all about “treffen”, that is to say about “finding something in the other”: a partner? a spectator? THE point? friendship?

    And in order to make it difficult (circus-like), I want the participants to practise different forms of apparatus as a kind of symbol of their irreducible differences and alterity. I don’t want to say: we will try to combine Cyr wheel with rope (may be it is impossible to combine them, or not so interesting). I want to say: We are very different, which our circus specialities obviously say, so: Where shall we “treffen” (meet)?

Information about the application

Required applicants
Number of people: 5-7

  • All different circus disciplines

Questions for the applicants

  • What is the circus of the future?

Please attach the following to your application

  • A personal and/or professional biography of one page, that contains all the things that are important in your eyes – no CV though – (the laughter of your 4-year-old child, your passion for skiing, doing rope, Sasha Waltz etc.)
  • A short video or sound recording of your own scenic or creative work.


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