an absurdist site-specific movement theatre installation for tennis court

by Claire Elizabeth Barratt

“L’oeuf” is a game of tennis with no rules.

It is played in a state of suspended animation with tennis balls & eggs.

It is played by humans in white tennis gear & white, life-size rag-dolls.

Both humans & rag-dolls are attached to white ropes.

Once the players reach the end of their rope they cannot go any further.

The players make repeated, laborious efforts to play tennis with the balls & the eggs.

In between each effort, there is a long pause while the player slumps lifelessly from their rope.

Within the context of this heavy, laborious movement style, there is the scope for highly choreographed & extreme pantomime.

This should be carried out sparsely in climactic points throughout the piece.

Even within the moments of “lifeless hanging”, a precarious positioning can give a sense of unpredictability.

The movement should never become energetic – but although slow & heavy with extremely long pauses, there must always be a feeling of suspense. And the intention to play the game must continue to be present throughout.

Occasionally a player will become ordinarily animated, detach themselves from their rope & go to the corner of the tennis court to drink a Gordon’s Gin & Tonic with Lemon.

There is no limit to the number of players.

They do not need to be evenly matched on either side of the court.

It is not necessary to always be playing an opponent.

There is no time limit.

The word “love” in tennis (meaning – no score) is believed to have derived from the French “l’oeuf” – the egg, the old French word for zero, due to it’s shape.

The egg is also symbolic of Spring Fertility & has been adopted in Western culture as an Easter gift.

This game of tennis represents going through the motions of a ritual as a slave in bondage to it – yet having no recollection of it’s original intent.

It seems lifeless & meaningless – yet there is a sense of misplaced valour in the persistence. & the sporadic earnest attempts to play create an ironic humour.

And then what else is there to do but drink a Gin & Tonic & try again?