Choreographer, Actress (Marlène) / Playwright, Screenwriter, Actor (Jonathan)
April - May 2023
- Performing Arts
- Los Angeles
“One issue that is of particular concern to us today, in addition to that of the body, is the issue of laughter when it touches on topics such as proposed by Verhoeven in Showgirls: feminism and patriarchy.”
We have worked as performers and collaborators with a range of stage directors and choreographers, and in tandem on our own projects for the last ten years. Because we think, as did Friedrich Nietzsche, that art has been given us to save us from death-by-reality, we create chaotic, polymorphous shows at the intersection of theater, performance, visual arts, and contemporary dance, mainly performed by dancers.
In 2021, we produced Showgirl, a piece loosely inspired by Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls (1995), which was a disaster movie and a film about dance. Its aesthetic, its political vision, and the questions it raises about the figure of the fallen woman and mainstream Hollywood’s treatment of actresses and their bodies inspired us to take a closer look at the issues of “camp” and, more generally, of good and bad taste. Pursuing this reflection in situ in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas – as Verhoeven did for the writing of his screenplay – will enable us to imagine an experimental cinematic object capable of celebrating, in the words of Susan Sontag, the victory of irony over tragedy.
Marlène Saldana worked with theater directors Sophie Perez & Xavier Boussiron or Yves Noel Genod and with choreographers such as Boris Charmatz, Jérôme Bel, Ashley Chen. She’s also working closely with theater maker and movie director Christophe Honoré. Jonathan Drillet worked with Jonathan Capdevielle, Sanja Mitrovic, Julien Prévieux, Raimund Hoghe. He is also working as a dramaturge or author for other directors such as Phia Ménard and Théo Mercier.
Marlène Saldana and Jonathan Drillet founded their company in 2008, The United Patriotic Squadrons of Blessed Diana, and have since written numerous shows presented in many locations in France and internationally. Their latest piece, Showgirl, was created at the Saint Gervais Theater in Geneva as part of the festival de la Bâtie, then toured France, Belgium and Switzerland and soon at Chaillot, the Théâtre National de la Danse (Paris, March 2023). Their next project, Utsu Mono To Utaruru Mono, a piece for 8 dancers, will be created in 2024 in Lyon (Les Subsistances).
In 2021, when we produced Showgirl, a techno oratorio in song and dance, we also released a five-track EP under the Warrior Records label with Rebeka Warrior (who wrote the soundtrack to our piece), and a music video for one of the songs. We would now like to continue working on the question of adaptation and aesthetic-political interactions (heritage, re-creation, transposition) by creating an indeterminate object, somewhere between a music video and a medium-length film, which will be shot in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, at the Cesar Palace and in Hollywood, either during our residency, if the project conditions and progress allow it, or at a later stage via our company.
We will also keep a daily vlog to record our various encounters, visits, travels, discussions, and discoveries, using a journalistic or even anthropological style (Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas spent three months in Las Vegas for the pre-production phase of Showgirls). We would like to meet today’s Vegas show dancers and Hollywood-type actresses, visit seedy downtown areas and prestigious venues, and visit the wilderness in-between. The idea is to shoot a film the way you’d do a pole dance on a cactus in Death Valley.
We’ll move around between Hollywood, the L.A. queer scene, Death Valley, big Vegas casinos, lap dance bars and their backstage areas, Showgirls shooting locations, and more remote locations.
In Los Angeles, we would like to learn about the movie industry and its actors, visit the underground scene, and bask in the splendor and the palm trees. We’ll also get in touch with young American artists, such as the dancers from the California Institute of the Arts, with a view to working together and, especially, discussing an issue of particular interest to us today (in addition to that of the body): the question of laughter in relation to subjects such as those proposed by Verhoeven in Showgirls, namely feminism and the patriarchy.
In Las Vegas – a city whose everyday views include a giant pyramid, an erupting volcano, white tigers, green grass in the middle of the desert, and miles of neon lights so bright that it looks like daytime at midnight – we will continue our reflection on ambition and vulgarity (heat, money, vanity, showbiz). In the era of #MeToo, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, gender studies, and the Anthropocene, we will question whether Las Vegas can be viewed as a sublime catastrophe in its own right, and we will write our own psycho-climatic movie.
Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris
Since the founding of the Théâtre National Populaire by Firmin Gémier in 1920, Chaillot has welcomed artists and audiences in a place whose architectural, historical and artistic dimensions have created a symbol: a theater at the service of creation and audiences in their diversity. In 2000, Chaillot diversified its programming by opening up to the choreographic arts to become, in 2008, the first National Theatre “to have a project built mainly around and from dance” and in 2016 took the name of Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse.
Centre national de la danse (CN D)
As a public establishment founded by the Ministry of Culture, the Centre national de la danse (National Dance Center) brings together all resources aimed at the sector of choreography and its publics in two places, in Pantin (in the Île-de-France region) and in Lyon (in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region). It supports and trains professional dancers, promotes amateur practice, assists with research, conserves and distributes choreographic heritage, and supports the creation of choreographic works in all forms, while promoting a dialogue with other artistic fields.