The script is very important to making Five Sisters, as it gives the work its structure. Everything is given and has to be taken from the text. The text is so contemporary because it deals with very basic emotions that have to do with our relation to the world, such as working, aging, and to look and be looked at… These things remain present and touch us today. Of course, our ‘today’ is just 28 years later! This shows that the questions people asked at the end of the 20th century concerning behavior, love, family relations and male-female relations, are in fact eternal matters and in a way classical elements. That is why, just as with Molière or Shakespeare, de Cointet can be interpreted forever.
As we know, ‘reading and seeing’ are the same thing in works which are simultaneously texts, visual images, and sometimes characters. De Cointet’s script is created from bits of conversations, tv-advertisements and colloquial phrases from daily life. Guy de Cointet was also taking lines from soap operas, as he was addicted (or pretended to be) to several of them, such as General Hospital. He also used phrases from conversations of his friends. That’s why he speaks to everyone and it is so easy to enter his work.
De Cointet’s work starts from his love of poetry and books. He always drew letters which wanted to go out of the page, into the space, and that‘s what he did: the text goes out of the page on stage. He was firstly a graphic designer who drew advertisements, and that’s why he is so brilliant and attentive to the posters, leaflets, that are part of the work. In one of his film projects, the characters are letters.
One could say that text is a person in Guy de Cointet’s work. The books in his plays are like characters. In the play De Toutes les Couleurs, which was presented in a traditional theater in Paris just prior to Five Sisters, the whole stage is a library, and the books ‘speak out’ through the actors: each time they take a book, they speak in the manner of the book. For example, when they take up Mes petites idées sur la couleur, by Diderot, they speak about colors in the 18th century. Also, as some books have even been covered by skin, sometimes even human skins, they are ‘bodies’. That always make me think about the ‘body of knowledge’. In French there is a saying that ‘when an old person dies, a library is lost’.
For the making of Five Sisters today, the text is to be interpreted: just like the three religions of ‘revelation’, THE book, which is the Bible, the Talmud or Coran, have to be read, learned and interpreted to be alive. The letters in the drawings of de Cointet are clues to the same kind of interpretation. We can just play with it, and as we play, we discover layers of meaning and interpretation.
Even if we don’t want to get stuck in nostalgia, we still have to do the work of a ‘contemporary archeology’, that in fact was also partially at work when de Cointet was exploring the structure of soap operas or commercials. As the script is a ‘body’ rather than a ‘corpse’, the members are ‘remembering’. I don’t just mean this as a pun with words. This idea of ‘re-member – put together the members’ is linked to the interest of de Cointet for hieroglyphs for example, which are ‘glyphs’, i.e. ‘images’ and text. His interest for the Codex, and the Book of the Dead could also be clues to look at the work (these were for example relevant for the long green book chrononhotontologos in Tell Me).
The members are part of a body (a body of knowledge) and part of a community. It’s important to remember that Five Sisters is a collaboration. The artist Eric Orr created the set and lights for this play. In order to make Five Sisters today, we need to start from the text and the technical indications of the script, to drive it towards the contemporary. This will mean we have to question the words, and think of the bodies in movement and the light in the context of visual art today.