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ex machina / robert lepage

At each simultaneous screening of footage FRAGMENTATION from Robert Lepage’s epic Lipsynch, spectators invariably believe that the images were designed for the groundbreaking projection concept known as the ReACTOR. In fact, the scene in question — eleven minutes from the “Thomas” chapter that bring to light the neurosurgeon’s alcoholism, a vocal performance in a jazz club and an alcohol-fuelled breakdown — was written well before Robert Lepage had heard of the ReACTOR. Nonetheless, it seemed so tailor-made for it that the adaptation was quickly and easily accomplished.

FRAGMENTATION is the ReACTOR’s third project to date. Eleven minutes of selected footage, filmed in the afternoon before each show at the Théâtre Denise Pelletier in Montreal, were made into a loop after minor adaptation by Robert Lepage. The choice of this sequence is due to its underlying concept. In the ‘Thomas’ chapter of Lipsynch, the set is created from seemingly random bits and pieces that lie scattered over the stage. When seen through the lens of a camera mounted at a specific angle, these inchoate elements are transformed into a hospital cafeteria table, a piano, and a table in a jazz bar, the transition created as the camera moves between preset positions. The images of this sequence, filmed simultaneously by 10 cameras positioned on five of the corners of the hexagon surrounding the set, are projected on five of the ReACTOR’s screens in an orientation consistent with their camera angle. The images from the rotating camera onstage and its preset viewpoints appear on the remaining screen. Spectators see what these positions reveal but also, walking around the projection device as if they were on the set, see reality from five distinct perspectives.

FRAGMENTATION is the adaptation, by Richard Castelli and Volker Kuchelmeister, of three scenes from the play Lipsynch written by Frédérike Bédard, Carlos Belda, Rebecca Blankenship, Lise Castonguay, John Cobb, Nuria Garcia, Marie Gignac, Sarah Kemp, Robert Lepage, Rick Miller and Hans Piesbergen and directed by Robert Lepage, for the ReACTOR, a 3D environment designed by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw.

Direction: Robert Lepage
The Singer: Frédérike Bédard
The Pianist: Carlos Belda
Ada: Rebecca Blankenship
Thomas' colleague: Sarah Kemp
Thomas, Neurosurgeon: Hans Piesbergen
The Medical Assistants: Carlos Belda, Paul Bourque, Anne-Marie Bureau, Pierre Lachapelle, Simon Laplante, Eric Lapointe
Set design: Carl Fillion
Light design: Étienne Boucher
Sound design: Jean-Sébastien Côté
Costume design: Yasmina Giguère
Stage touring & production manager: Louise Roussel
Stage technical direction: Paul Bourque
Stage Production: Ex Machina & Théâtre Sans Frontières
Direction of photography and technical direction: Volker Kuchelmeister
Shooting assistant: Andrea Hartinger
Lighting technician: Renaud Pettigrew
Sound technician: Stanislas Élie
Rotating camera and stage video technician: David Leclerc
Post-production: Volker Kuchelmeister
Original idea of the adaptation for the ReACTOR of scenes from Lipsynch show: Richard Castelli
ReACTOR system design: Sarah Kenderdine & Jeffrey Shaw
Technical Direction ReACTOR (touring): Arne Graesser
Production: Richard Castelli & Hélène Stril, Epidemic, Paris
Co-Production: UNSW iCinema Centre, Sydney — City University of Hong Kong School of Creative Media


The ReACTOR system is an hexagonal projection environment offering the audience a physically immersive three-dimensional space of representation that constitutes an augmentation and amalgamation of real and virtual realities. The audience can choose to move freely around the hexagon to view individual screens or step back and watch the screens simultaneously.
Each screen displays the same scene from a film or a performance specifically designed and recorded for this installation, in time synchronicity but from a different perspective, analogous to the architecture of the space within which it is projected.

The first two works for the ReACTORUNMAKEABLELOVE by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw and DOUBLE DISTRICT by Saburo Teshigawara, premiered in October / November 2008 as part of "eLandscape" exhibition of the eArts festival in Shanghai (China).
FRAGMENTATION is the third project to date for the ReACTOR and premiered in April / May 2011 as part of Matière-Lumière exhibition during Béthune 2011 (France).

Concept: Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw (2008)
Design consultant: Paul Bourke
Engineering design and realisation: Nelissen Dekorbouw
Developed with the generous support of the Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia,
the UNSW iCinema Centre, Sydney, Australia and Epidemic, Paris, France