In Waiting for Bardo(t), two young women, Jaja and LiLi, find themselves entangled in Godot, Bardot, the bardo and butoh, as they search for the ineffable.
Waiting is a kind of limbo, a space-time of in-between-ness. In Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s characters live in a state of not knowing, where famously, ‘nothing happens, twice’. Brigitte Bardot found the life of a celebrity, in-between multiple husbands and lovers, pleasure and excess, to be profoundly dissatisfying. In Japanese aesthetic terms, the in-between known as ma, is embodied in the dance theatre form of Butoh as strangely elastic space-time. Bardo is the Tibetan Buddhist term for the state between death and re-birth as well as any experience of in-between-ness, all of which hold possibilities for freedom.
For this work we constrained ourselves to using only the stage directions from Beckett’s most famous play. Not surprisingly this created choppy, non sequitur action. The many gaps or bardos could be viewed as problems for the dance, but we saw them as open invitations to create new material and add text that could give the old stage directions alternate meanings and contexts. Creating a script entirely out of bits and pieces of Brigitte Bardot’s movie dialogue and interviews seemed like an unlikely way to find solutions for the fractured structure, but I found that her characters often made existential statements and queries that gave life to our characters. Creating this work required meticulous attention to myriad details and the performers are required to assimilate these into layers of complex physical, vocal, and improvisational scores in an intricate structure. The world of Bardo(t) is further expanded by our team of creative collaborators. Like Godot’s characters, LiLi and Jaja contemplate open-ended questions about life, the kind that enrich life even if they do not find answers or solutions.