/ I made you a submarine

hauser, 2008














Get up Charley, get up. Go and get one.

No Billy. I’m tired, please.

Get up, Charley.


In 'The Memoirs of Chateaubriand' Chateaubriand reports on a planned attempt by the smuggler Johnston to rescue Napoleon from his island prison by means of a submarine vessel.

The German filmmaker and writer Alexander Kluge writes in relation to stories of submarines that 'the soul is an underwater creature'.

These two images form the starting point for I made you a submarine: The mysterious plan of Napoleon's escape by means of a submarine becomes an image with which to contemplate desire and passion, ambition and failure, action and immobility, effort and lightness, life and death.

The performance is split into two parts distinct from one another in their narrative, visual, atmospheric and rhythmical frameworks, yet connected through structural and thematic echoes and continuities.

Section one begins with a speech by Muhammad Ali and is structured around the repetitive re-enactment of a historic event of the Wild West as described in a poem by Michael Ondaatje from The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. With each repetition the structure is altered and interrupted in more and more complex ways. The played out narrative functions as a constant textual layer underneath or on top of elements of movement, action, object manipulation, stillness and music that accompany it. Actions become more-than-representative; they take place in close proximity to the narrative structure, but spill out of their narrative frame. The wild west narrative of Billy's friend Charley being shot in the stomach walking towards Pat Garret takes place within an aesthetics of Sport and is juxtaposed by Sport's rhetoric of winning and loosing.

In section two Billy's dying friend Charley mysteriously becomes Napoleon Bonaparte. A cardboard submarine appears. What previously resembled a sports court turns into a nautical dreamscape inhabited by a lobster, a bride, a young handsome sailor, a mermaid and half a dozen seagulls.

Devised and performed by Alice Booth, Simon Bowes, Neil Callaghan, Simone Kenyon, Anthea Lewis and Anna Wilson.

Commissioned by Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster and ICIA, Bath. Funded by Arts Council of England Lottery Funding.

‘I prop him to the door, put a gun in his hand. Take off, good luck Charley.’