Cie Philippe Saire
Av. de Sévelin 36
1004 Lausanne

+41 21 620 00 12 info@philippesaire.ch



Cie Philippe Saire
Av. de Sévelin 36
1004 Lausanne

+41 21 620 00 12 info@philippesaire.ch


Actéon spectacle On tour ×

A dance piece by Philippe Saire for four dancers, Actaeon unfolds in the fascinating, strange and controversial world of hunting. The performance reinterprets the eponymous Greek myth, the story of a hunter turned into a stag then torn apart by his hounds.
As it is adapted here, the myth allegorically addresses our relationship with the wild, a certain “utopia of nature”, which is symbolised by the hunter’s views.
60 min

If the desire for “feralness” is indeed an attempt to transcend daily life, the hunter, with all his iconography, becomes an ideal means to question our complex relationship with animals and the wild – our relationship with the strangeness of animals, the unknown, instinct and the uncivilised, predation, letting-go and our place in nature… so many elements that haunt many of us.
Actaeon addresses the world of hunting and uses the myth both as a medium and an outcome, a narrative context and dramaturgic conclusion: the human/wild dialectics (parts 1 & 2 below) and cathartic metamorphosis (part 3).
The first act develops a physical equivalent to the hunters’ views. They stand up for their “sport” by claiming to defend a return to nature, the regulation of wildlife, a sense of community, and a link with tradition, turning hunting into a romantic form of forest tracking. To evoke this utopian relationship with the wild, seldom used codes in contemporary dance are called upon, which refer to a form a naivety: for example, copying the gestures of hunters in action, found on YouTube.
The humorous dimension, which is omnipresent in this first part, contrasts with the seriousness of the discourse and opens it up for debate while highlighting its artificiality.
A simulacrum is not a degraded copy. It harbours a positive power which negates both the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction. It is the triumph of the false pretence. Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense
All this material, interspersed with individual attempts at becoming wild and working on the necessity of the group, leads to a kaleidoscopic transcription of the cynegetic world.
Another register is added to the diversity of forms: songs, written and composed by the choreographer are intoned by the dancers and emphasise the dissonance of the hunters who leave fresh and joyful.
A place of initiatory experiences, pilgrimage and partying… A common denominator: Nature is used to imitate a return to the time of myths […]. If wild and mysterious nature did not exist, we would have to invent it, which is exactly what we do every day. Sergio Dalla Bernardina, The Utopia of Nature (p. 15)
The second act shifts to the tragic violence inherent to hunting. It contrasts with and takes up position against the naivety showcased until then and the denial it contains. As age-old custodians of our origins, two warrior-butchers busy themselves on the stage strewn with animal shapes – a vast charnel house that bears witness to the carnage.
The third and last act focuses on the eponymous legend. Straying from Ovid’s version, Actaeon here chooses to switch sides to join the animals. He becomes prey and finds himself hunted by his own companions, the embodiment of the dogs who devour their master. Actaeon is no longer a victim here but a hero who defends his convictions, risking his life. In this final chapter, the dancers manipulate the lights that are present in the hunt and which generate constantly shifting spaces.
The kaleidoscopic aspect of the performance turns into a form of film editing, while the songs end up sounding like an ancient choir.

The stage is almost bare throughout the performance, except for carcasses made out of fabric strewn across the stage in the 2nd act and LED panels which are manipulated by the dancers.

For a very, very long time, he observes the prey, its excessive precautions, its lack of caution. He feels that he is being forced to perform a role, like he too has been cornered into a trap. He cannot escape anywhere. […] When his rage subsides, he has shot three males and six females. The fawns who are faster, have fled. The haunch of a dying doe quivers. […] He should finish the doe off, sit down, breathe, try to understand what happened, decide what to do with so much meat and ease his trembling hands. If only he could be struck by lightning right here right now. If only he had not got up this morning. If only his weapon had jammed, his rifle had exploded and shards had pierced his eyes, a deer had trampled him, he had slipped, his heart had stopped beating, his hands had become paralysed. If only these questions could stop, he could wake up, all this could be but a nightmare, he could learn to beat that rage within him, he knew how to resist, he could give up hunting, he would not react like an angry dog sniffing blood, none of all this were real, none of it, oh no, not real, he thinks as the tears swell up. He cannot remember ever crying in the last ten years, so he cries, stupefied, stupid, stunned. He finally cries about what he did not cry about in the past: the death of his wife, the loss of his children, his life. He cries a thousand times about what he should have cried about for such a long time. He cries, the idiot, but his tears do not inflate the empty lungs of the animals, his grief does not bring movement to what his dumb bullets have made stiff. He cries and he knows he will go home alone. He will take the shower he delayed taking, absentmindedly stroke the cat, and he will never admit to anyone what happened in the forest. He walks, behind him a doe is slowly dying, the fawns will die of hunger without their guide, the animals will rot, they will be ripped apart by scavengers, their hide torn off, nothing but their enigmatic bones will remain as a testimony that something terrible happened at the foot of the cliff. He won’t even eat their flesh. He only wishes for a burning-hot shower, as if the water could wash away his deep wounds. He walks in the stench of death.

Concept & choreography
Philippe Saire

Chorégraphie en collaboration avec les danseursChoreography in collaboration with dancers
Gyula Cserepes, Pierre Piton, Denis Robert, David Zagari

Production assistant
Chady Abu-Nijmeh

Lighting design
Philippe Saire, Vincent Scalbert

Sound design
Stéphane Vecchione

Costumes & accessories
Julie Chapallaz, Nadia Cuénoud

Technical director
Vincent Scalbert

Sound management
Basile Weber

Graphic design & photography
matière grise | Philippe Weissbrodt

Pierre-Yves Borgeaud

AJS Cracker

Sponsorship & partners
City of Lausanne, Canton de Vaud, Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Loterie Romande, Fondation de Famille Sandoz, Ernst Goehner Stiftung Cie Philippe Saire is the resident company at Théâtre Sévelin 36, Lausanne.


Dates to come

Lugano (CH)

Past dates

Lausanne (CH)
Lausanne (CH)
Wiesbaden (DE)