EX MACHINA

EX MACHINA

Playing Cards: SPADES

Regular deck: 52 cards. 4 colours. 4 royal families. 2 jokers.
Tarot deck: 78 cards. 4 symbols. 4 royal families. 21 arcana or trump cards. 1 joker.

Card games consist of a series of rules, symbols, signs, mathematical or numerological structures, mythologies, and, above all, characters. By combining and ordering them, you can create as many stories as there are possible arrangements. At least that’s the intuition guiding Robert Lepage and his collaborators on the project called Playing Cards. With such a range of possibilities, the creators imposed the structure of a deck of cards on the project. It will consist of four parts: SPADES, HEARTS, DIAMONDS, and CLUBS, each exploring a universe inspired by the asset the suit represents.

Research into the origin of cards invariably leads back to the Arab world. The tetralogy’s four parts, each independent and yet interrelated with the others, will make up a cosmos dealing with our past, present and future relationships, our exchanges, and sometimes too, our culture shocks when encountering the Arab way of life.

Playing Cards: SPADES
The first part, SPADES, explores the theme of war. The action juxtaposes two desert cities, at the moment in history when the United States invades Iraq. On one side is Las Vegas, a caricature of the Western World’s values, and on the other, Bagdad, bombed by President Bush in the name of promoting democracy.

This Tower of Babel, the gambling capital, brings together characters of different origins and affinities. During a weekend on the Strip, they will reveal the city’s multifaceted identity: the kingdom of showbiz and bling, a lieu of passage, a multicultural crossroads, a place where anything goes, a meeting point between wealth (sometimes extreme) and poverty.

Beyond luck, chance and excess, Las Vegas is also unveiled as an empire of illusions, escape and vertigo. These characters – like the gambling city that chooses to keep on playing even though the country is at war – will fight private battles with their demons here, in hopes of resolving their own contradictions.

How will the game turn out: decay or redemption? All bets are on.