A L EX AN D RE S IN G H
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY ALEXANDRE SINGH
COMMISSIONED BY WITTE DE WITH CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART & PERFORMA
28 & 29 SEPTEMBER 2013, ROTTERDAMSE SCHOUWBURG
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY ALEXANDRE SINGH
DRAMATIS PERSONAE M S . C H I E F H A R RY F O U L B R E E C H PA N TA L I N G U A TO P H O L E C H A R L E S R AY V E R N O N / 3 1 N
Simona Bitmaté Jesse Briton Elizabeth Cadwallader Sam Crane Phillip Edgerley Ryan Kiggell Flora Sans
CHORUS Sanne den Besten, Annelinde Bruijs, Folkert van Diggelen, Dook van Dijck, Loulou Hameleers, Lucia Kiel, Suzanne Kipping, Robbert Klein, Gerty Van de Perre, Lucas Schilperoort, Amir Vahidi, Sanna Elon Vrij
CREATIVE TEAM CHOREOGRAPHY & A S S I S TA N T D I R E C T O R COSTUME DESIGN LIGHT DESIGN MUSIC
MASK DESIGN SET DESIGN
Flora Sans Holly Waddington Guus van Geffen Gerry Arling, Touki Delphine (Rik Elstgeest and Bo Koek) in collaboration with Annelinde Bruijs, Robbert Klein, Amir Vahidi Alexandre Singh Alexandre Singh, Jessica Tankard
HUMANS C RO N E DUCHESS S P L I N G E B OT TO M HUSBAND BULLEN VERMILLION S T RU M P E T F R AU FINGERER H AG B E RT R A N D WIFE D A N DY M AC A I R E B R AY
Sanne den Besten Annelinde Bruijs Jesse Briton Folkert van Diggelen Dook van Dijck Phillip Edgerley Loulou Hameleers Lucia Kiel Ryan Kiggell Suzanne Kipping Robbert Klein Gerty Van de Perre Lucas Schilperoort Amir Vahidi Sanna Elon Vrij
COMMISSION & PRODUCTION COMMISSIONERS
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Performa, New York
P RO D U C E R
C O - P RO D U C E R S
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; Preromanbritain LLC.; Productiehuis Rotterdam; Rotterdamse Schouwburg; Performa 13, New York
P R E S E N TAT I O N PA RT N E R S
P R O D U C T I O N PA RT N E R S
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; Festival De Keuze, Rotterdam A.P.E (art projects era), Codarts (Academy of Music and Theater)
WITTE DE WITH C E N T E R F O R C O N T E M P O R A RY A RT R OT T E R D A M Project Manager Head Technician Technical Producers
Business Coordinator Press
Amira Gad (Managing Curator / Publications) Paul van Gennip (Deputy Director) Gé Beckman, Ties Ten Bosch, Carlo van Driel, Line Kramer, Chris van Mulligen, Hans Tutert, Jonathan den Breejen Sarah van der Tholen Josine Sibum Siderius, Angélique Kool
R OT T E R D A M S E S C H O U W B U R G Director Business Coordinator Head of Programing 12
Ellen Walraven Bert Détermann Walther van den Heuvel
Head Technician Technical Coordinator Stage Managers Head of Marketing
Thijs Teunissen Michiel Sipman Ferry Kranssen, Roland van Wensveen, Sefton Guebbels Ruben Israël P RO D U C T I E H U I S R OT T E R D A M
General Manager Programmer Publicity Office Management
Tanja Elstgeest Dave Schwab Anne Helsen, Eva van den Hove Sally Mometti F E S T I VA L D E K E U Z E R OT T E R D A M
Artistic Director Programmer Marketing
Mark Yeoman Judith Blankenberg Tjeerd Langestraat P RO D U C T I O N T E A M
Assistants to the Director Choreography Assistant Script Editor Stage Managers Production Assistants Sound Engineer Sound Assistant Light Technician Stage Technician Set Prop Supervisor Props Stage Hands
Elly Scheele, Alice Walter Nina Boas Ella Christopherson Simone Scholts, Kirsten Visser, Siemen van der Werf Yoeri Guepin, Judith Hulsbosch Guido Langendoen Margreet van der Helm Jorg Schellekens André Goos Gé Beckman, Paul van Gennip, Hans Borggreven, Case Miller (Sun and Moon), Geert Schuurmans, Niels Vis Tyler Considine, Merel van ‘t Hullenaar Christian Hansen, Thomas van den Oever, Renée Staal, Niels Vis Liz Allan, Tyler Considine, Sriwhana Spong
Masks Head of Wardrobe Costume Assistants Wardrobe Assistants
Make-up Artist Make-up Assistant Casting Director
Ronald Schinkelshoek Merel van ‘t Hullenaar Malin Anderson, Thera Hillenaar Robin Dale, Maria Elettra Esteri, Anne Kluytenaar, Bo Mulder, Charlotte ten Raa, Carmen Schabracq, Fleur Tonino, Lisa Vlamings, Jennifer Williams Susanna Peretz Wouter Somers Hancock Stevenson, London
A C K N OW L E D G E M E N T S Jack Bakker; Tessa van Beek; Caroline Dose; Elizabeth Everall; Fabrique Urbaine; Agathe Finney; Marjolein Geraedts; Athena Gronti; Michael Hesp; Ronald Jorissen; Studio Miessen; Maria Pask; Niels Post; Dafni Psarrou; Hessel de Ronde; Yoram Tomasowa; Joshua Thies; Meg Turner; Jan Zoet; the participants of the Causeries public event series: Kathleen Burk, Alan Cummings, Marieke Dhont, Brian Dunphy, Pascal Dupuy, Jessica Frazier, Iki Freud, Peter de Graeve, Donatien Grau, Edith Hall, Robert Hewison, David Inglis, Andrew Jaffe, Amy Kenny, Adam Kleinman, Bernadette LeclercqNeveu, Bénédicte Lemmelijn, Liesbeth Levy, Graham Ley, Tullio Lobetti, Gareth Long, Nick Lowe, Valeria de Lucca, Martin Myrone, Alexa Piqueux, Adriaan Rademaker, James Robson, Philip Smallwood, Claudio Vellutini, Alexander Verpoorte, Francis Wolff
FILM Cinematographer Sound Editing Production
Sal Kroonenberg Frank van der Weij Alexandre Singh Judith Hulsbosch A RT I S T S T U D I O
Studio Manager Studio Production Manager Studio Assistants
Laura Turcan Tyler Considine Jessica Tankard, Thomas van den Oever, Renée Staal S U P P O RT AGI Verona Collection; Private Collection Asiago; Art:Concept (Paris ); Codarts Rotterdam; Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin; Fonds Podiumkunsten; Gemeente Rotterdam Dienst Kunst en Cultuur; Institut Français; Le Meurice (Paris); Monitor (Rome ); Preromanbritain LLC.; Sprüth Magers Berlin London; Stichting Niemeijer Fonds
F O R E WO R D
P R E - P RO D U C T I O N
S U P P O RT
F O R E WO R D
take in a three-hour play that allows ciphers and cues from across centuries to coexist? We consider it a great sign of trust that, in parallel to the development of the play’s premiere here in Rotterdam and its trip onward to New York, we were allowed to the extensive knowledge and thinking that went into the production and informed a series of public programs based on the ideas that drove The Humans. The play is in this regard unprecedented both as an artistic undertaking and as a scale of institutional involvement. It also marks the debut of Singh as a talented theater director. Whereas this type of research and production has traditionally not been the object or subject of a contemporary art institution, Singh was, to his merit, able to involve a considerable number of specialists in Witte de With’s programming. His hard work is also evident if you consider the large number of individuals from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and across the globe whose contributions went into this work. Discussions with Alexandre Singh began in the spring of 2005, and it has been quite a journey since then with our co-commissioner Performa, and co-producers Preromanbritain LLC., Productiehuis Rotterdam, and Rotterdamse Schouwburg, in partnership with Festival De Keuze and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York (BAM). Grateful thanks must go to the former director of Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Jan Zoet, who accepted the challenge of this play, and we are delighted to have continued our cooperation with Rotterdamse Schouwburg and Productiehuis Rotterdam under Ellen Walraven’s new tenure. And for agreeing to this collaboration, thanks go to Mark Yeoman, Artistic Director of Festival De Keuze, who took on the play as part of his program. The play travels to New York thanks to our ongoing dialogue with art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa’s Founding Director, and Esa Nickle, Producing Director, both of whom have witnessed the various phases of the script and set design since 2009, and co-commissioned the play. Thanks also to David Harper, who extended an invitation to The Humans at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and of course to Joseph V. Melillo, BAM’s Executive Producer for making it happen. The Humans has a wonderful team behind it who deserves much credit. Without Maaike Gouwenberg, the producer, none of this would have been possible. My deep gratitude goes to Paul van Gennip, Witte de With’s Deputy Director and Head Technician, and Amira Gad our in-house Curator, who were instrumental in seeing through this project as well as Tanja Elstgeest from Productiehuis Rotterdam, who supported and co-produced this play all the way and wholeheartedly. Our biggest acknowledgment for this creation must go to all the members of the creative team, who have been relentlessly working with Singh: Flora Sans ( Assistant Director and also playing the role of N ) for the choreography; Holly Waddington for the costume design; Guus van Geffen for the light design; Touki Delphine (Rik Elstgeest and Bo Koek) and Gerry
Dear Guest, I would like to take this opportunity to express the enthusiasm of our Board and team about working with visual artist, writer and director of The Humans Alexandre Singh, and to share what a thrill it is to be presenting his ambitious play with its world premiere in Rotterdam at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg as part of this year’s Festival De Keuze. Singh has been working on this play for seventeen months at and with Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and it has been an intense intellectual, physical, emotional and logistical journey that is now set to reach its final manifestation as a full-fledged theatrical account of the universe’s creation. From April 2012 to January 2013, Singh transformed parts of Witte de With’s exhibition floors into an artist’s studio, a script room, and a workshop. The Humans evolved and changed over an eight-month period on-site and a seven-month period off-site, and included a variety of presentations, rehearsals, and discursive sessions that were informed by the props and scripted elements of the play. Until March 2013, we shared Singh’s research as well as his work-inprogress through a series of thematic monthly public events titled Causeries, during which we, together with distinguished scholars, looked at topics ranging from cosmology and cosmogony (What do astrophysics, Indian mythology, archeology, and the Bible make of the dawn of time and space?) to theatrical costumes (How do the costumes in Shakespearean theatre, Commedia dell’arte, and the Japanese tradition of Kabuki compare?); from pictorial satire (How much have the animated sitcom South Park or caricatures of Hogarth and Daumier informed the masks of The Humans?) to scatology (What is the relationship of the grotesque and ‘toilet humor’, as in excremental studies, to literary devices such as that of the altar of the absurd? Is the control of bodily fluids after all the very Ursprung of government?). The Causeries were also precious and concentrated moments for our audiences to delve into the work of key inspirational literary and cultural figures such as Aristophanes, Alexander Pope, P.G. Wodehouse, William Hogarth, John Ruskin, and Woody Allen. How much of what is on view is a love letter to William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Woody Allen’s ethos, and how much of it is a manifestation of an extra-ordinary and extra-disciplinary mind in the twentyfirst century? What kind of loyalty can we seek in contemporary art production to ancient writings and classical references? How can we reconcile the renewed interest in the classical with the contemporary, if at all, and 18
Arling, in collaboration with Annelinde Bruijs, Robbert Klein, Amir Vahidi, for the music. For the exceptional acting, a big applause has to be extended to the talented cast made up of Simona Bitmaté, Jesse Briton, Elizabeth Cadwallader, Sam Crane, Phillip Edgerley, and Ryan Kiggell (recruited thanks to Casting Director Hancock Stevenson, London). The talented chorus from the Codarts school in Rotterdam includes Sanne den Besten, Annelinde Bruijs, Folkert van Diggelen, Dook van Dijck, Loulou Hameleers, Lucia Kiel, Suzanne Kipping, Robbert Klein, Gerty Van de Perre, Lucas Schilperoort, Amir Vahidi, Sanna Elon Vrij, whom we selected, thanks to the efforts of Hans Cassa and Anouk Beugels of Codarts. We would like to also thank the technical producers from Witte de With’s end: Gé Beckman, for whom The Humans marks his departure project at Witte de With after 23 years here with us; Jonathan den Breejen, Ties Ten Bosch, Carlo van Driel, Line Kramer, and Chris van Mulligen. For all their efforts, we are also grateful to the production team of the play: Denzo Rotterdam (Technical Producers: André Goos, Guido Langendoen, Jorg Schellekens); Elly Scheele, Alice Walter, Geert Schuurmans, Ronald Schinkelshoek, Merel van ‘t Hullenaar, Christian Hansen, Case Miller, Niels Vis, and Thera Hillenaar. The filming of this work is realized thanks to Sal Kroonenberg ( Cinematographer ) , Frank van der Weij ( Sound ) , and Judith Hulsbosch (Production). We are grateful to Laura Turcan, Alexandre Singh’s Studio Manager, Tyler Considine, Singh’s Studio Production Manager, as well as stage-hands for The Humans next to many other functions but also Singh’s Studio Assistants Thomas van den Oever, Renée Staal, and Jessica Tankard. A big thanks must also go to Sarah van der Tholen for the coordination of grant applications and contracts, Josine Sibum for her work on promotional materials, and Samuel Saelemakers for working with me relentlessly on a day-to-day basis on all fronts. But also our office stars Wendy Bos, Gerda Brust, Angélique Kool, and Emmelie Mijs, who proved essential for the logistical realization of this project. Graphic designers A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL ) and Kristin Metho deserve also a mention here. Last but not least, our financial supporters and sponsors, especially the generous donations and funding received from Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin, Le Meurice, Institut Français, Codarts Rotterdam, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Stichting Niemeijer Fonds, AGI Verona Collection, the Private Collection Asiago, as well as Gemeente Rotterdam Dienst Kunst en Cultuur and Singh’s galleries Sprüth Magers (Berlin and London), Monitor (Rome ), and Art:Concept (Paris ) must be acknowledged for making The Humans a reality. Special thanks to Ashendene for the generous arrangements of Singh’s studio in Rotterdam.
Every person involved in this project and listed above has taken up more than one role when contributing to this play. Our eternal gratitude goes to every one of you, runners, volunteers, counting over 100 dedicated individuals that have been involved in this play one way or another and who are listed in our acknowledgments section in this playbill. Last but not least, thank you to the audience for being here and participating in this beautiful journey. It has been an inspiring and exceptional opportunity for all involved— be it professionally or as general audiences, in the development of the play, working with Singh’s wonderful mind and generous personality. It has also been an invaluable platform for us all to contribute to unlocking the artistic value inherent in sustained engagement. Over the course of our long and fruitful discussions, we can confidently say that we have all learned a great deal. For all this, I would like to personally thank Alexandre Singh for this exceptional opportunity and for the gift of his work.
Enjoy the play! Defne Ayas Director, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Rotterdam, September 2013
To share your thoughts, or for feedback or comments, please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to email@example.com. 21
been born. Thirty-One renames himself Vernon Montgomery Spruce, Deputy Vice Prime Minister of Humanity, and leads the humans in revolt against their alleged oppressor Charles Ray. As the humans indulge their base impulses, they cower at the angry cry of Vox Dei. Vernon, however, does not wish anyone or anything to challenge his newfound authority. Upon being crowned King, he leads the call for vengeance after the humans encounter the ultimate cruelty—death. Queen N and Charles Ray are hunted down and seized for trial.
THE SCENE A small island of reality, drawn in precise mathematical lines, sometime before the creation of the universe. The island is cleaved in two: the ordered, regulated Apollonian territory of Charles Ray the sculptor and the wild, carefree Dionysiac realm ruled by Madame Nesquik, the Rabbit Queen.
ACT I Pantalingua, Dionysiac spirit and daughter of Rabbit Queen N, encounters Tophole, assistant to Charles Ray, in the woods. Tophole sheepishly agrees to assist headstrong Pantalingua in her efforts to subvert the orders demands of Vox Dei, the omnipotent power worshipped by both their masters. Ms. Chief, a small black cat and impartial viewer, watches the scene with the vaguest of interest, as cats are wont to do. We follow Tophole to the sculptor’s studio where the master of the Apollonian realm, Charles Ray, fashions his league of statues, characterless humans. Tophole, ever diligent but forever destined to disappoint his demanding master, attempts to perfect the art of animating the statues. It is here we meet the chorus who, along with Ms.Chief, bear witness to events onstage. Charles Ray describes the storm that shipwrecked him and the Rabbit Queen on the island, the fierce battle that divided the island, and their discovery of the shadowy presence of Vox Dei. At this moment, Vox Dei issues a new command. Charles Ray and Queen N must put their rivalry aside to create the shining discs Vox Dei has commissioned. Pantalingua continues to cast doubt on the validity of Vox Dei’s instructions but, no matter how hard she and Tophole try to undermine his wishes, they seem to only further his cause. And so the Sun and the Moon are born.
ACT III Tophole and Pantalingua attempt to rescue their masters from incarceration, only to be captured and trialed themselves. Vernon, the tyrant, leads the prosecution, countered by Tophole’s defense. Is existence a curse? Or is life a blessing? T he chorus will decide.
ACT II Tophole, desperate to please Pantalingua, imagines the ultimate subversion of Vox Dei’s will: the mixing of Queen N’s ‘darkest Arts’ with the humans’ compositional plaster. Tophole’s obedient statue or fallen human, number Thirty-One, assists him and Pantalingua in executing their foul plan. ThirtyOne is thus the first person to experience the pain of human existence— longing, emptiness, hunger, lust, greed. Man has fallen—or perhaps finally 22
SONGS WORK IS GOOD, WORK IS HOLY Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Annelinde Bruijs, Amir Vahidi Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I , S C E N E 5 ) C H O RU S
For work is good, O work is holy, Whether done fast Or even slowly. We live to toil, To make from matter, More men of soil To work the plaster. We do not think What we should do. When we hear orders Then we snap to. For work is holy, it’s why we exist, Why we exist. Charles Ray our fabricator We must assist, We must assist. We work for master, we toil for him. So now bring plaster, And mix water in. Right to the brim. We help to mould, Those body parts, Like bones and hearts, Like bones and hearts. 24
From which our lord Creates his art. Each does his part. Each does his part. He’s our producer, We toil for him. And as we labour, We sing this hymn. We sing this hymn, In praise to him, We sing and sing, We sing this hymn, In praise to him, We sing in praise to him.
ODE TO HARUSPICATION Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Robbert Klein, Annelinde Bruijs, Amir Vahidi Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I , S C E N E 1 2 ) C H O RU S
For each movement of a die that’s cast Tumbling through air so pure Allows the divine creator’s breath To pepper the world with clues. For the universe is an open book, And one full of footnotes too! From each swirling vapour in mornin’ air To the curl in every pile of poo. From the liver spots on an old man’s wrist, We’re predicting he won’t live long, From the rumblings at Mt. Vesuvius’ base, To the coffee percolator’s song: We’re divining a pattern, from the divine patten: In the drops sliding down the glass; In the play of the winds, And the shapes of the clouds, O’er which meteorological satellites do pass. From which we’re predicting: 25
SUN AND MOON
THE TOILET SONG
Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Gerry Arling, Annelinde Bruijs Arrangement by Gerry Arling, Annelinde Bruijs
Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Gerry Arling, Robbert Klein, Amir Vahidi Arrangement by Gerry Arling
( AC T I , S C E N E 1 6 )
( AC T I I , S C E N E 4 )
C H O RU S
C H O RU S
O Sun most bright at stroke of noon, Then sinking b’low horizon’s belt, Replacèd now by sister Moon, ‘Till night into morning melts.
We’re matter made living. An inanimate clay. Like the comets above us, in the great Milky Way.
Life explodes in golden fields We’er falls Hyperion’s rays, As Selene’s light reveals, Madness in all who ‘pon her gaze. Our shy mistress hides her face, In pools of reflected light, Till our master comes apace And puts the night, He puts the night To flight. O Sun most bright at stroke of noon, Then sinking b’low horizon’s belt, Replacèd now by sister Moon, ‘Till night into morning melts. For divided day and night shall be, Each part, retreating to its home, Sun and Moon now break their amity, To altern who sits on sky’s great throne, For only in moments of celestial bliss These two bodies our great sky shall share, And Moon over Sun shall pass and kiss, An eclipse An eclipse to dark both sky Both sky, And air. 26
S T RU M P E T
Oh but now I am hungry, with desires to sate. Shall I savage some creature – to have food on my plate? G O O D C H O RU S
There’s naught we desire; to exist is to work. To form matter from matter, to weave humans from dirt. F R AU
I desire your praises. Oh how I need to be loved, In all the right places, to be licked, stroked and rubbed! G O O D C H O RU S
By the Brownian motion of our atoms within, We’re moved by pure action, we know not how to sin. B R AY
But how am I thirsty! Bring me water – no – wine! F A L L E N C H O RU S
And for our hunger let’s slaughter some: [rattling them off] Pig, cow, horse, dog; Bear, stag, doe, frog; Bird, rat, crow, bat; Crab, nag, mule, gnat; Ant, ape, ass, snake; Worm, whale, sperm, snail; Shark, seal, squid, eel; Moose, mole, goose, vole… Lambs, goats, and swine!
C H O RU S
Ooh, now bring my your daughters. That I might have knowledge of them. And don’t forget your sons –
From out his skin our peasant, Does now a sudden leap, Such are the consequences Of her desire for treats.
F A L L E N C H O RU S
[falsetto] Per facer amor ad hominem!
See him run, hallooing: HUSBAND
C R O N E and B E RT R A N D
As for me. I’ll have power over everything. Let all the humans sing.
“I saw a cow-like rat!” C H O RU S
Sceptically his wife:
C H O RU S
You our king.
In our presence, you’ll cower, We are less men, more Lords Knowing both, good and evil The effect and the cause!
WHO BE SHE THAT CREATURE Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Gerry Arling, Bo Koek Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I I , S C E N E 9 )
“Now how’d you name A thing like that?” C H O RU S and H U S B A N D and W I F E
Infelicitatum Felix? Horrorum Domesticus? Narcissus Aggregious? Misschievus Divinum! WIFE
Is she perhaps a female? HUSBAND
C H O RU S
Who be she that creature, That wanderer of the night; The unexpected cause Of so many a villager’s fright?
So then a Ms. be she. And of that type alone? HUSBAND
When in pitch black a paw Brushes softly ‘gainst a leg, A mewl out the darkness Heard demanding to be fed.
Why to thenth degree! WIFE
Then let’s call her a suzerain, Headman, liege or maybe –
C H O RU S
Aye! Chief of her whole order, Name appropriate to –
You say every moment brings, The chance for Death to sudden spring. Oh how we huddle and we clutch, At the thought of his cold touch. Oh nothing scares us quite as much!
BETTER TO BE A BEE
C H O RU S and H U S B A N D and W I F E
Ms.– chief, queen of disorder,
Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Gerry Arling, Robbert Klein, Amir Vahidi Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I I I , S C E N E 6 )
C H O RU S and H U S B A N D and W I F E
Ruler of a very queer species…
TO P H O L E
Infelicitatutum Felix? Horrorum Domesticus? Narcissus Aggregious? Misschievus Divinum!
C H O RU S
WE NEVER REALISED Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Alexandre Singh, Gerry Arling, Amir Vahidi, Annelinde Bruijs, Robbert Klein Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I I , S C E N E 1 3 )
What I’m saying is: [sings] ‘A bee is better than a wasp, To be a wasp is better than a tree.’ ‘Better to be a bee than a wasp or not to be!’ TO P H O L E
That’s right! So: ‘A cup is better than a rock, To be a rock is better than dust.’ C H O RU S
‘Better to be dust if that’s all we must, Than the vacuum of space to be.’
C H O RU S
We never realised, How frightening it would be, How much this world we’d miss, If we ceasèd to exist. If we ceasèd to exist.
TO P H O L E
This we now just recognise, A damp patch spreading down our thighs. Look to be honest we’re quite pissed That there’s not more to life than this. That there’s not more to life than this.
C H O RU S and T O P H O L E
Exactly! ‘You should strive to be an anything. It’s better to be a being thing. At least a wasp can use its sting –’ ‘Against its many enemies Like the hands and arms and cheeks and knees, Of boys and girls and soft babies –
‘So it’s better to be a word than a sound.’
That there can’t be joy, if there’s not also terror, No midwives, without undertakers; No friends without strangers, Tenderness without cruelty, No safety without danger, Biscuits without tea! Without tea!
C H O RU S
PA N TA L I N G U A
Or the doctrine of papal infallibility! Oops. Sorry. TO P H O L E
‘For it’s sounder to have meaning abound.’ TO P H O L E
‘So listen all, and take note! That quote being unquote Is much preferable to not being around!’ C H O RU S
‘Is much preferable to not being around!’
NO JOY WITHOUT TERROR Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Gerry Arling Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I I I , S C E N E 9 ) C H O RU S
Well, we’ve listened; Well, we’ve listened; Well, we’ve listened very carefully, Well, we’ve listened very carefully, To all that has been said: By our Tyrant Vernon who’s holy, And this girl that’s so well read.
For… For now, For now, Vox Dei, Vox Dei is absent, He’s ab-say-ant. He’s gone He’s gone and left us all alone We’ve looked for him In every patch of briar Under every rock and every stone! Oh Vox Dei where art thou? We’d really like to… know ho-ho! Why, we do sorely need you – Oh yes we do, we do indeed… Vox Dei, come back! Come back! Come back to us with great speed! M AC A I R E
[parlando] Well, if Vox Dei’s now gone from our world – VERNON
That’s just absurd! S T RU M P E T
And now we’ve ruminated, To us it does appear, From these facts we’ve cogitated, A thing abundant-ily clear…
No, it’s true – ain’t you heard?
M AC A I R E
Then we’re going to need an angel to protect us.
And a great devil who’ll be there to haunt us.
Our bellies are round, within them come sounds, The sounds of, Brand new creatures waiting to be born.
C H O RU S
Oh, Gay Ariel, beautiful lady, Won’t you lead us down the path of light? And you, Lucy-F-er, great devil, [very quickly] Corruptor – of – Men: Black – venom – dripping – Goat-footed – Pan – Beelzebub, Won’t you lead us down the path to sheer delight?
C R O N E and D A N DY
For there can’t be joy if there’s not also terror, No victims without any winners, No saints without sinners, Pleasure without pain Nobleness without baseness Love without disdain Love, Without disdain!
C H O RU S
MAN IS A WORM Lyrics by Alexandre Singh Music by Jean-Philippe Rameau Arrangement by Gerry Arling ( AC T I I I , S C E N E 1 1 ) C R O N E and D A N DY
Man is a worm, and food for worms, To be, To be laid out, in a coffin flat and stiff. There joined be each, generation in turn, In great, In great tombs, inscribed with hieroglyphs.
We honour ‘n celebrate her, by eating and regurgitating her, Till we too, Are lowered into graves and eaten in our own turn, – By worms, worms, beautiful worms: Who make their children in our own flesh! Dust to dust, clay to loam, From tree, Tree into timber, timber into thrones: Thrones that crumble, when empires stumble, Chairs of, Chairs of wood holding corpses of their own. C R O N E and D A N DY
Now our story is near over, We have a master, and a mistress, Though we’re ageing they are changeless Lord of the dead and Lady of the quick, Be our carrot and our stick. C H O RU S
The Angel calls, Devil enthralls, For men’s For men’s souls these two shall now for’er fight, Till that eclipse, the one that darkens all, When life, When all life shall fade back to eternal night.
C H O RU S
We all ate N, we ate her flesh, We all, We ate her flesh, that then became our own.
P R E - P RO D U C T I O N
As part of the realization of The Humans, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art presented Causeries. Taking its title from the French verb causer [to converse or chat], the Causeries were set up as a series of discussions in which Singh expanded on the play’s key themes, ranging from cosmology and cosmogony to pictorial satire, dance, drama, and religion. Rather than discursive events in the well-
known format of a conference or symposium, the Causeries were conceived as informal conversations between the artist and an expert in a given field taking place within a spatial setting designed by Studio Miessen. The monthly Causeries were conceived and organized by Defne Ayas and Alexandre Singh, in consultation with writer Donatien Grau. (Sound files are available upon request: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art began presenting the on-site realization of
The Humans, with an artist’s studio, a script room, and a workshop installed in our exhibition floors.
Installation view Witte de With. Courtesy Studio Miessen. Photography Bob Goedewaagen.
THE HUMANS READER The Humans Reader brings together a selection of texts that provide an insight into different themes the artist explored over the course of the project. It functions as an
in-depth source of information and inspiration for The Humans. This booklet is available in limited printed copies for consultation at Witte de With.
TH E HUMANS ON TUMBLR Over the course of 2012, Alexandre Singh regularly posted visual material and other sources that served as 36
inspiration in the development of The Humans on a dedicated Tumblr page: the-humans.tumblr.com.
Alexandre Singh’s studio at Witte de With. Photography by Bob Goedewaagen.
JUNE 2012 Causerie — T he Creation: On Cosmogony and Cosmology 2 June 2012, Witte de With The eleven-hour long summit titled The Creation: On Cosmogony and Cosmology marked the grand kick off 37
of The Humans. Participants Jessica Frazier (Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Lecturer in
Religious Studies, University of Kent), Alexander Verpoorte (Professor, Faculty of Archeology, University of Leiden), Andrew Jaffe (Professor of Astrophysics, Imperial College London), Bernadette Leclercq-Neveu (Professor, Classics Department, École Normale Supérieure, Paris),
Bénédicte Lemmelijn (Professor of Theology, Catholic University of Leuven), and Francis Wolff (Professor of Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris) focused on the idea of creation, viewed through the lenses of religious and mythological narratives as well as through developments in present-day science.
AUGUST 2012 Causerie — T heatrical Costumes 16 August 2012, Witte de With Costumes have always been an integral part of theater, which made an exploration in this field indispensable in the realization of The Humans. In the third of the series of Causeries, experts from different disciplines including Amy Kenny (Research Coordinator, Globe Theatre, London), Valeria de Lucca
(British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Music, University of Southampton), and Alan Cummings (Senior Teaching Fellow Japanese, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) discussed the origins and evolution of theatrical costumes from a variety of traditions and periods.
The Creation: On Cosmogony and Cosmology — the first in the series of Causeries on 2 June 2012. Photography by Erwin Nederhoff.
Causerie is presented as part of Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery, London. Aristophanes — the fourth in the series of Causeries on 13 September 2012. Photography by Erwin Nederhoff.
JULY 2012 Causerie — Pictorial Satire: On Hogarth, Daumier, and South Park 12 July 2012, Witte de With This five-hour long Causerie explored the satirical impulse in visual culture from the 18th century to present times. Different expressions of pictorial satire were discussed in several conversations, highlighting the satire that lies at the heart of The Humans.
Causerie — A ristophanes 13 September 2012, Witte de With Participants included Martin Myrone (Lead Curator, Pre-1800 British Art, Tate Britain ), Pascal Dupuy (Professor of Early Modern History, University of Rouen), and Brian Dunphy (Professor of Television and Radio, Brooklyn College, NY ).
The fourth in the series of Causeries marked Aristophanes as a source of inspiration to Singh and brought together several experts to explore a wide range of subjects—from the chorus, costumes, and staging to the social and political context of ancient Greece, including: Edith Hall (Professor of Classics, King’s College, London), James Robson (Senior Lecturer and Head
of Department of Classical Studies, The Open University, London), Alexa Piqueux (Lecturer, department of Greek Culture, University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense), and Adriaan Rademaker (Professor, Classical Language and Culture, University of Leiden) came together to explore the rich satirical legacy of Aristophanes, the ‘Prince of Comedy’.
Causerie — T he Mountain in Art and Literature 11 October 2012, Witte de With For a long time, mountains have been regarded as awe-inspiring yet hostile places; sites that are simultaneously feared, respected, and worshiped. In this Causerie, Singh explored different expressions of the mountain in our culture, ranging from depictions of Asian mountain hermits to European Romanticism. Participants included: Robert Hewison (Former Slade
Causerie — T he Voice and The Chorus 19 January 2013, Witte de With Professor of Fine Art, Oxford, Honorary Professor, Lancaster University, and Visiting Professor, City University), Tullio Lobetti (Senior Teaching Fellow, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religion, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), and Marieke Dhont (Doctoral Researcher in Biblical Studies, KU Leuven Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies).
Delving into the past, once again, as a way to inform and enhance the present, this Causerie led an investigation into a device of fifth century BCE Greek tragedies and comedies, namely the chorus. Taking an anachronistic approach, this event moved from a close study of the plays themselves, to Nietzsche’s thoughts on the role of the voice in his seminal study, The Birth of Tragedy, and the
development of the voice throughout the history of opera. Participants included: Graham Ley (Emeritus Professor of Drama and Theory, University of Exeter), Claudio Vellutini (PhD candidate, Music History and Theory, University of Chicago ), Peter de Graeve (Philosopher, University of Louvain), Adam Kleinman (writer and editor), and Liesbeth Levy ( philosopher ).
NOVEMBER 2012 Causerie — L iterary Satire 15 November 2012, Witte de With During this Causerie, Singh highlighted the importance of satire and the prominent ways in which this literary genre informed the realization of The Humans. Ranging from Lucian of Samosata to Alexander Pope and P.G. Wodehouse, Singh traced the various styles and approaches in which these satirists Producer Maaike Gouwenberg joins The Humans team. Jan Zoet, former Director of the Rotterdamse Schouwburg and Tanja Elstgeest General Manager at Productiehuis Rotterdam come on board as co-producers of Singh’s play. 40
voiced social criticism by means of wit, sarcasm, and irony, together with Philip Smallwood (Emeritus Professor of English, Birmingham University), Kathleen Burk (Emerita Professor, Modern and Contemporary History, University College London ), and Gareth Long (visual artist and writer).
Installation shot of Alexandre Singh’s studio at Witte de With. Photography by Bob Goedewaagen.
Alexandre Singh’s studio is moved from Witte de With’s exhibition floors to a new location in Weena, Rotterdam (Courtesy of Ashendene).
FEBRUARY 2013 Causerie — Woody Allen 16 February 2013, Witte de With During this Causerie, Singh explored the deeper underlying themes that make Woody Allen’s work so relevant, complex, and attractive: themes from Fate to the Self, from 41
humor to tragedy—that equally pertain to The Humans—were placed under close scrutiny in conversation with Nick Lowe ( Reader in Classical Literature,
Royal Holloway, University of London ), Philip Smallwood (Emeritus Professor of English, Birmingham University), Liesbeth Levy ( philosopher ) , specialized in the philosophy of ethics and alterity,
and Proust scholar Donatien Grau as to draw out parallels between Allen’s films and the plays written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes.
WORLD PREMIERE 28 & 29 SEPTEMBER 2013, ROTTERDAMSE SCHOUWBURG
Woody Allen — the eighth in the series of Causeries on 16 February 2013. Photography by Carina Hesper.
NOVEMBER 2013 U.S. PREMIERE 13–17 NOVEMBER 2013, BAM, NEW YORK
Rehearsals for The Humans start in Witte de With’s auditorium.
The Humans travels to Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM ) as part of Performa13.
Scatology — t he ninth in the series of Causeries on 16 March 2013. Photography by Sander van Wettum.
Causerie — S catology 16 March 2013, Witte de With The flip side of the sublime is the grotesque, and while the form is praised in artworks, materialism is considered vile. Said in the vulgar, ‘toilet humor’ has been used as a literary trope to spin the pious on its head, and have it land, face first, on the altar of the absurd. During 42
this Causerie, Singh explored scatological twists and means, from the materiality of excremental studies to the conception of the grotesque body with David Inglis (Professor of Sociology, University of Exeter), Iki Freud ( psychoanalyst ) , and Liesbeth Levy (philosopher ).
On Truth ( and Lies ) in Greek Comedy 17 November 2013, BAM, New York Artist Alexandre Singh, philosophers Liesbeth Levy and Simon Critchley discuss Greek comedy and Aristophanes—whose work
was the inspiration for Singh’s staging of The Humans—and contemplate the legacy of classical Greek theater today.
training Company. Her latest works include Childie in The Killing of Sister George at the West End’s Arts Theatre in 2011, Bianca in the RSC’s 2012 production of The Taming of The Shrew, and Sally Wiggins in The Watermill Theatre’s 2012 production of Patrick Barlow’s Ben Hur. Television & Film includes Doctors ( BBC); short film love hurts; online series Green Shoots ( Bite Your Thumb Productions ) and pilot Nina and Lilly’s nothing on show, which she has co-written. Elizabeth is a London heavy weight Monologue Slam champion.
DRAMATIS PERSONAE S I M O N A B I T M AT É Simona Bitmaté graduated from The Central School of Speech & Drama in 2010. London theatre credits include: The Silence of the Sea (Donmar Warehouse ), Under a Foreign Sky (Unicorn Theatre). UK television credits include: Doctors (BBC). The Humans marks her international theatre debut.
JESSE BRITON Sam studied at Oxford University then trained as an actor at LAMDA where he was awarded the Nicholas Hytner Scholarship. He began his career with the experimental Polish production A Little Requiem for Kantor at The ICA, and has since performed for The National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Royal Court and The Young Vic. He received Ian Charleson Award commendations for his performances in Ghosts and Othello. On screen he has appeared in many television series including Desperate Romantics, Poirot, Midsomer Murders and Father Brown and can soon be seen in the feature film A Christmas Candle.
Jesse Briton is an actor, writer and director. He completed his theatrical training at East 15 Acting School with a BA in Acting and Contemporary Theatre (2010 ). He is the founder and the artistic director of Bear Trap Theatre Company, and his first play Bound was nominated for the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award in 2011. Alongside acting and directing, he teaches in Somerset and London, and is a visiting director at the University of Essex. E L I Z A B E T H C A DWA L L A D E R Elizabeth has most recently trained with Philippe Gaulier in Clowning and Le Jeu in Paris. She started at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s ‘Young Rep’ and went on to train at The Bridge Theatre 44
RYA N K I G G E L L
Phillip Edgerley is an actor who has been part of a number of major theater and television productions. He has been an actor at The Royal Shakespeare Company, Dreamthinkspeak Ltd and The Royal Court. He has had major roles in The Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical productions, such as Antony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The W inter’s Tale. His work on television include roles in East Enders, Ultimate Force, Life as We Know It and Footballers W ives. Currently, he is a guest director at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (Education).
Ryan Kiggell is an actor based in London. In addition to performing in theatre productions such as Macbeth (2011, Cheek by Jowl, international tour ) , Kaspar (2011, Southwark Playhouse ) and Voyage Round My Father (2010, Salisbury Playhouse), he has also appeared in the award-winning feature film Atonement (2007 ) and the film Glorious ‘39 (2009 ). His television credits include roles in Foyles War (2009 ), Silent Witness (2007 ) and Holby City (2007 ). CHORUS The chorus is formed of twelve young and talented actors and singers: Sanne den Besten, Annelinde Bruijs, Folkert van Diggelen, Dook van Dijck, Loulou Hameleers, Lucia Kiel, Suzanne Kipping, Robbert Klein, Gerty Van de Perre, Lucas Schilperoort, Amir Vahidi, Sanna Elon Vrij. They are all graduates or current students of the Codarts Conservatorium in Rotterdam. Eight of the actors—Annelinde Bruijs, Dook van Dijck, Loulou Hameleers, Suzanne Kipping, Robbert Klein, Gerty Van de Perre, Amir Vahidi and Sanna Elon Vrij— make up a musical collective CLUB GEWALT. In March 2013, their performance Carnavalskinderen shared the first prize at the Cafe Theatre Festival in Utrecht.
FLORA SANS Flora Sans is a choreographer and a performer of contemporary and Baroque dance. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History (University of Angers, 2000) and a BA in Performing Art with the specialization in Dance (University of Paris, 2002 ). Sans’ unique combination of styles—Baroque dance and contemporary dance—has brought her to big stages in Europe and in France, such as Arsenal de Metz, Opéra Royal de Versailles and Opéra d’Avignon. She is also the founder of the choreography company Pasarela, which strives to create interdisciplinary connections between dance and other arts.
CREATIVE TEAM ALEXANDRE SINGH Alexandre Singh is a visual artist and writer based in New York. Singh, who was born in Bordeaux, France to Indian and French parents was brought up in Manchester, UK before studying Fine Art at the University of Oxford, UK. Singh’s work derives at once from traditions in literature, performance, photo-conceptualism and objectbased installation art. His work has
been exhibited in venues throughout Europe and the United States including The Serpentine Gallery, London; New Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Singh’s work is held by a number of private and public collections including MoMA, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris.
H O L LY WA D D I N G T O N Holly Waddington studied Fine Art at The Ruskin, Oxford University and Scenography at Laban. She works between dance, theatre and film and live performance as a set and costume designer. She was a finalist in the 2007 Linbury Prize for theatre design. Theatre Credits: Varmints (Sadler’s Wells ), Crow (Handspring UK ), Electra, Breathing Irregular, Hedda (The Gate), Little Creatures ( Sadler’s Wells ) , Elektra (Young Vic), The Life & Times of Girl A (Scottish Dance Theatre), The Difference Engine (Lost Dog), You May (Zoi Dimitriou), It Needs Horses (Lost Dog), Les Miserables (Pimlico
Opera ), Chicago (Pimlico Opera ), Meltdown (Rambert ). Film credits as Costume Designer: Ginger & Rosa (Sally Potter). As Assistant Costume Designer: Lincoln (Steven Spielberg), Warhorse (Steven Spielberg), Another Year (Mike Leigh), Glorious ‘39 (Stephen Poliakoff), The Other Man (Richard Eyre), Happy Go Lucky ( Mike Leigh ) . Performances & Installations: SEC_RITY is Not Complete Without U (Almeida Theatre / Belarus Free Theatre), Karl’s Electric Heel Grind (Latitude Festival, Affluenza the exhibition and The Cabaret Melancholique).
G U U S VA N G E F F E N Guus van Geffen started working with set and lighting design after he finished his technical training in advertising in 1978. In the past three decades he has worked on more than 48
a hundred productions for various theater groups, filmmakers, artists, festivals and theater schools. In 1988 he co-founded the successful theater company de Trust, to which he was
committed for almost a decade. Currently, he is working as an independent set and lighting designer for theater, film and museums, and
is a teacher of design at the School of Arts in Utrecht, Maastricht and Amsterdam.
G E R RY A R L I N G Gerry Arling is a Dutch jazz and pop musician and composer. Since 1983 he has performed with many (jazz ) bands across many stages in The Netherlands and internationally. In
1993 he founded Arling & Cameron with singer / songwriter Richard Cameron. He continues to compose, produce and perform music for film, television and theater.
TOUKI DELPHINE: R I K E L S T G E E S T & B O KO E K Rik Elstgeest studied classical percussion at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Elstgeest was the singer of the Dutch band Kopna Kopna and has recently performed with the groups Track, Touki Delphine and Alamo Race Track. He also works in music theatre as a performer, musician and composer and has previously created several scores for television and film.
Bo Koek is a composer, performer, producer and instrumentalist who studied at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. From 2005–2010 Koek was a cast member of De Veenfabriek. He performed in various bands including Touki Delphine, Kopna Kopna, Awkward I, We’ll Make It Right, Mocky and Track. Since 2010 he composes music for television, theater and film.
PRODUCER MAAIKE GOUWENBERG Maaike Gouwenberg is a freelance curator based in Rotterdam. She is interested in performative practice, and the projects that she has been involved in bring together theatrical and curatorial aspects. In 2010, Gouwenberg initiated A.P.E. (art projects era) with artist Keren Cytter. Her résumé includes a num49
ber of large projects but also a continuing long-term collaboration with artist Joris Lindhout on the project Gothic as a Cultural Strategy. She is also a committee member at The Mondriaan Fund, a board member of Enough Room for Space, theater group Ponies, and Touki Delphine.
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S U P P O RT WITTE DE WITH Since its inception in 1990, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art has been commenting on the social and political predicament through the presentation of curated exhibitions, symposia, live events, educational programs, and a bold publishing arm. Your support is essential to realizing our ambitious mission. If you are interested in investing in the future of Witte de With, please contact Business Coordinator Sarah van der Tholen by completing and sending the form below by post or by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling +31 (0) 10 411 01 44. Name Mr. / Mrs. Name of Company Position Address
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The Humans by Alexandre Singh is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Performa. The Humans is co-produced by Preromanbritain LLC.; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Productiehuis Rotterdam; Rotterdamse Schouwburg and Performa 13. It is presented in partnership with Festival De Keuze and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Witte de Withstraat 50 3012â€‰BR Rotterdam The Netherlands
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PA RT N E R S A.P.E (art projects era)
S U P P O RT
The Humans is realized thanks to the generous support of AGI Verona Collection; the Private Collection Asiago; and Fonds de Dotation Famille Moulin.
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is supported by the City of Rotterdam and the Ministry of Culture.
WITTE DE WITH S TA F F Director Deputy Director Business Coordinator Managing Curator / Publications Curator of Education & Theory Associate Curator Assistant Curators Chief Editor of WdW Review PR & Communication Office Manager & Communication Office Manager Office Assistants Reception Desk Technicians Interns
Defne Ayas Paul van Gennip Sarah van der Tholen Amira Gad Yoeri Meessen Annick Kleizen Virginie Bobin, Samuel Saelemakers Adam Kleinman Josine Sibum Siderius Angélique Kool Gerda Brust Emmelie Mijs, Wendy Bos Erwin Nederhoff, Erik Visser Gé Beckman, Line Kramer Hannah Kalverda (Education), Berber Meindertsma (Communication), Iines Ramark (Curatorial )
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Frank van Balen Ties Ten Bosch, Carlo van Driel, Chris van Mulligen, Hans Tutert Chris de Jong BOARD Kees Weeda (president), Bart de Baere, Claire Beke, Ellen Gallagher, Nicoline van Harskamp, Patrick van Mil, Karel Schampers, Nathalie de Vries
COLOPHON The Humans by Alexandre Singh is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Performa. The Humans is co-produced by Preromanbritain LLC.; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Productiehuis Rotterdam; Rotterdamse Schouwburg and Performa 13. It is presented in partnership with Festival De Keuze and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM ).
E D I TO R S
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Defne Ayas, Amira Gad C O P Y- E D I T O R S
Maaike Gouwenberg, Josine Sibum Siderius, Renée Staal C OV E R I M A G E
Alexandre Singh, Untitled (2013 ), courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers, Monitor, Art:Concept, Metro Pictures
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