The Laughing Crowd
The Laughing Crowd is a celebration of laughter that invites the audience to experience the captivating nature of laughter with open senses and fresh eyes. The work explores laughter as a somatic experience, as a sonic universe as well as a social event.
The Laughing Crowd by Antoinette Helbingis a dance piece and a concert for laughter, where 8 dancers are using both their voices and their bodies to engage with the relation between laughter and human connection.
The Laughing Crowd pays tribute both to enjoyment and human bonding that evolve through laughter and laughter’s alluring connective energy. Laughter is being used as a prism to explore laughters’ physical and audible manifestation, as well as laughter's social and emotional implications. Laughter can be both: a contagious act of uniting as a group, but also an uncontrollable and unpleasant way of exposing power and positioning within a group. Hence, laughters’ landscape covers a broad spectrum of emotions that is being explored, distorted and magnified in The Laughing Crowd. Unravelling as a social dance in laughers’ fundamental humanity, this work takes the audience onto a journey through the body's affective expressions.
The piece emerges from Antoinette Helbing's previous solo work, The Laughing Game, and extends the solo’s subject and embodiment into a group work researching laughter’s sociology within a scenic context. The work evolves from a fascination with the somatics of laughter as well as laughter’s human impression and powerful connotations. In Antoinette Helbing's choreographic practice laughter is the point of departure for a somatic and choreographic exploration of laughter’s scenic potential: laughter can embody the theatrical, the dramatic, the exaggerated, the ugly and the unfiltered. The loss of control going along with unstoppable laughter is a crack in our present individualistic and staging-the-self times. This gap in our self control fosters laughter's liberating potential.
By bathing the audience in laughter the performance gives a collective experience of basic human connection. The core of the performance is kinesthetic empathy that is being activated by the dancers’ laughter, their movement and the spatial choreography that unfolds as an interplay of the energies between performers and audience. The audience is gently included in the artistic expression of this work: both the performers and the audience are visually exposed and invited to observe each other as part of the performance.
The performers will alternate between working as a closely moving unified crowd and spreading throughout the whole space to be seen as individuals. Here the spectator can choose to observe at a distance or to closely follow a singular dancer. The entire size of the dock is used to create a performative experience, in which the audience actively can choose how they would like to position themselves in the space. This process of active choosing and the audience’s ability to move freely underlines the performances installational aspects. The spectators become aware of their own bodies, not only by the laughter’s mirroring effects, but also by having to actively determine how to relate and to include themselves in the experience.
The performance exists in two versions:
A site-specific version that can perform site specific in urban spaces (indoors and outdoors) and in nature. This version of The Laughing Crowd premiered in a container hall at Metropolis Festival in May 2023 - emphasising the humanity within laughter and laughing bodies through the rawness of the industrial space.
And a version for black box spaces with light design which will premiere in January 2024.
The Danish Arts Council, København Kommunes Scenekunstudvalg, Wilhelm Demant Fonden, Augustinus Fonden, Dansk Skuespillerforbund, Dansk-Svensk Fonden, Aage og Johanne Louis- Hansens Fond and ISLAND CONNECT Residency Program.
Choreography: Antoinette Helbing
Performance: Birgitte Skands, Daniel Norback, Max Wallmeier, Andreas Haglund, Beck Heiberg, Nanna Stigsdatter Mathiassen, Thjerza Balaj, Antoinette Helbing
Stand Ins: Jakob Schnack Krog og Katrien van der Velden
Dramaturg: Naya Moll
Composer: Randi Pontoppidan
Sound Design and Technics: Emil Vodder Kristensen
Light design: Carina Backman
Costume Design: Inbal Lieblich
Administration: Dorte Burmester Wium/B&W Art and Support
Dramaturge Intern: Eglė Nešukaitytė
Producer: My Nilsson
24.-31. May 2023/ 6 performances of site specific version at Metropolis Festival Copenhagen / Denmark
3.-5. August 2023 / 3 performances of site specific version at PASSAGE Festival Elsinore (Helsingør) / Denmark
8.-14. January 2024 / premiere of black box version with 7 performances at the studio stage of the Royal Danish Playhouse. The Laughing Crowd performs as part of KSelekt. KSelekt is a collaboration between The Royal Danish Theatre and The Danish Arts Foundation to nourish expansion across structures, genres and to enhance mutual inspiration within the Performing Arts in Denmark.