Archive of Past Events

Masterclass with Xavi Bobés

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

18 January 2019

Reflecting on his production of Things Easily Forgotten, which explores familial and cultural memory of Spain in the twentieth century, theatre-maker Xavi Bobés led a masterclass on his approach to objects. Bobés describes the ways in which silence offered him a link to objects, allowing him to translate their objectness in a process he compares to the work of an interpreter. He discusses key texts that have shaped his thinking around objects, including Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude and George Perec’s The Infra-Ordinary and Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, and the development of early productions such as The King of Loneliness and Insomni. The masterclass moves through questions of space, time and memory in a theatrical frame. Ultimately, Bobés argues that the expressiveness of the object is discovered through action.

Discover more about Xavi Bobés on his vimeo channel and about El Solar: Detective Agency of Objects, the theatre company he runs with Shaday Larios and Jomi Oligor:

Object of object

by Xavi Bobés

Objects have their own significance. We create them and look for a meaning, a value, a level of usefulness. They project a desire, an aim. Once their objective is met, the object enters the scene: their day to day reality becomes tangible. They have a shape, a weight, a look that not only persists but alters according to its use. The object is gradually sketching a portrait of the individual, which can have infinite variations and styles depending on the subject, depending on the object. We see in them the story of a man, of a civilisation, of an era.

Once the object has begun to draw out the nuances of what it is to be human, it acquires a kind of symbolic memory: no longer an object in itself, but the "object of" something. Through it, the manipulator expresses everything that shapes his character, his personality. And he does so, often unconsciously. Whether the gesture that accompanies the object is spontaneous or not, it reveals a choice, a direction.

And so the observer enters in the game, or whatever it is, as the viewer.

The viewer faces the challenge of decoding the language of objects through the practice of observation; focusing in on the detail and the uniqueness of each moment, concentrating on what makes it indispensable. Unconsciously we create our own musical score, linked to the two basic principles of composition; rhythm and intensity. The musical instrument that draws us in is everything that we have in hand. The study of the different styles of manipulating objects, weaves a collective pattern in which a single portrait, little by little becomes a landscape of portraits.

The expressiveness of an object is discovered through action: the movement of the object, but especially in the suspension of movement, in stillness. It is through motion that the event happens, and it is in the suspension of motion, that we see the relationship between subject and object. The gesture "on hold" is the synthesis of composition and movement of the object.

This is the chimera of the manipulator of objects: finding that moment that perpetuates the object, that moment where we hold our breath, where the object becomes a vehicle to express both itself and its manipulator. It is the transgression of the object, its revelation. And it’s at this moment, that it manifests itself. The object informs the subject about its condition, its state.

The object becomes a metaphor, a representation. Conditioned through our eyes, from a symbolic composition of the codes of manipulation, through imagination, we take time to understand it, try to examine the significance of the moment, in which we face the abyss, the void: the day to day. Time does not stop; it is dormant, in a way that defragments and presents everything that surrounds us to something awake, alert.

Footage from the masterclass will shortly be available on our Vimeo channel.


STAGING DIFFICULT PASTS is an AHRC funded project: Grant reference: AH/R006849/1