Tumor: Carcinogenic romance – Surprising take on a serious issue
Cancer is currently one of the most frequent lifestyle diseases, each of us knows someone who is battling it. So when you go to see a performance whose title includes the word ‘tumor’, you expect a serious, depressive content. But it does not need to be so. The international T.I.T.S. Performance group directed by Nela Kornetová opted for a cool-headed and humorous approach without mistreating the otherwise serious topic.
The creative team discovered an unlikely parallel between cancer and romantic relationships in all their forms, from the first encounter (“I’m thinking about you all the time”), through first mutual misunderstandings, physical desire to arguments and break-up…
The main thread of the piece is Dagmar Radová’s text that we can hear in a voice-over, or recited by performers (Nela H. Kornetová, Jaro Viňarský). The sensitive and rather abstract words make space for the above-mentioned parallels. The fact that one of the performers is heavily pregnant also leads to diverse initial interpretations.
Two bodies are lying on each other on the floor. It seems they do not like this connection, but they cannot break away from each other, even though they try. When they finally separate, they try to grasp each other again as if they were holding a hot potato and could hurt the other with a simple touch. Judging by the balance of power, Jaro Viňarský’s slight physique and the subsequent storyline, it is obvious that Viňarský is the “unexpected” guest, a tumor and a lover; though at times, they swap roles, deliver the same lines, multiply their words. They even wear the same outfits – a pink tee, blue jeans and later on a silver bodysuit.
They depict miscellaneous situations in which they use diverse expressive tools. Spoken word and acting dominate, but dance sequences are the most touching. The two performers also sing some 1990’s love songs, and there is a marked contrast between their singing skills. Beside the professionally sounding Kornetová, Viňarský sings like an enthusiastic, but not very talented karaoke fan (the lyrics are displayed on two screens), but maybe it is the disproportion that makes the scene so interesting.
The disease is evoked by endless surgical tubes attached to the performers’ faces, or swimming caps resembling bald heads of those who have undergone chemotherapy. The visual side of the performance features the motif of ECG, X-ray images are projected on the bodies with a miniature projector, and in the end we can even watch a footage of tumor-removal surgery.
T.I.T.S. Performance group indulge in topics which aim at our instinctive emotions, and test the audience and their basic reactions. They do it in Tumor, too. The basis is fear. Desire comes in a funny erotic scene and disgust appears when we watch the two performers eat chicken and throw the munched pieces into each other’s mouth. Tumor is a well though-out work, from which I take (in spite of how light and cool it wants to be) the feeling of absolute hopelessness the patients and their families and friends must experience...
Written from the performance held on 9 Oct 2020 at the MOVE Fest festival in Cooltour, Ostrava.
Tumor: Carcinogenic romance
Text: Dagmar Radová & T.I.T.S.
Concept & direction: Nela H. Kornetová
Dramaturgy: Dagmar Radová and Lucie Ferenzová
Set design & video: Jan Hajdelak Husták
Music & sound: Ondřej Sifon Anděra
Movement collaboration: Matthew Rogers
Performers: Nela H. Kornetová, Jaro Viňarský
Premiere: 17 Sep 2019