Staging A Last Tango in Paris         


Convener(s): Lawrence O’Connor

Participants: Lawrence O’Connor ([email protected]), Dodger Phillips ([email protected])

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Themes discussed:

  • TEXT



Probably the most effective way to communicate what we agreed was beautiful and interesting about this story is to stage, in very truthful terms, the basis for and the process undertaken during this Open Space Session no. 18 to unearth what it is that we find of value in the story and, using snippets and extracts from the text/film, enable the audience to take that journey with us.



Components of the telling of The Story:

  • Exploration
  • Animality
    • Animals have no need for…
      • Worry
      • Self-justification
      • Living outside the moment
  • Humanity
  • Beauty
  • Why it needs to be told
  • Why it is difficult to tell
  • Reactions to it
  • Reactions, obstacles and challenges  to the telling of it
  • And those described in the following themes…



  • Flawed***
  • Worlds
    • Inside (together)
    • Outside
  • Need to be understood
    • By
      • Themselves
      • Each other



  • Chooses to…
    • Question
    • Judge
    • Reconcile
  • Story accesses…
    • Their personal experience
    • Their images



  • This is the personal world view that the story tellers and the audience will inevitably bring and that will enrich the giving and receiving of the story.



  • This is the social & political external, cultural dimension that will inform and, at times clash with and contradict the personal morality of the story, its tellers and of the audience.



  • Simply staged
  • Lectern
  • One actor
  • Flip chart and large space on which the map of the story will evolve.
  • Screen for projections of movie snippets


It seemed helpful to look at other stories that include some of the elements that we wanted to address in this staging:

  • The Piano & Blair/Iraq
    • Flaws
      • All the main characters are flawed**
    • Voyeurism + revelation
      • Key moments seen through…
        • Slots
        • Holes
        • Gaps
    • Self-destructive
      • Privately
      • Publicly
    • Need to be:
      • Discovered
      • Understood
  • Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray
    • Useful model for staging.



This is where we spent most of our time in discussion – it was a way of unfolding what the ideas were that made staging the story of A Last Tango Appealing and getting beyond the common perception of the story as only about ‘fingers, butter & bottoms’.

  • Human evolution
  • Existentialism
    • Process
    • Choice
      • Possibility
      • Beauty
      • Risk
        • Being Wrong
        • Disapproval
    • Nihilism
      • Dark aspect
        • Satre
        • Typical, general perception
    • Responsibility
      • Light aspect
        • De Beauvoir
      • In the moment
        • Absence of ‘worry’


What will be the content…

  • Extracts
    • Screenplay/script
    • Research about the original film/story, the making of it and the impacts of it having been made.
  • Story of the story of…
    • First encounters/impressions of A Last Tango’
    • Finding beauty in the story/emotions/tears.
  • Impro
    • Engaging the audience



One of the things that will make the staging of the story of the story is interesting is the context in which it is told, the tensions between that and our current social politics and culture and the disconnect between them and the themes of A Last Tango’.

  • Rules
    • Other People
      • Who are they anyway?? (we bearly know ourselves, how can we ever claim to ‘know’ other people???).
    • Social
      • ‘Inclusion’ it is a futile and sometimes destructive exercise to set out to attempt to ‘include’ everyone. People will include or exclude themselves based on their choice.
      • Important to remember that, on one level, people are organisms.
  • The importance of:
    • Time
    • Place
  • The story staged must be personal and truthful to be a sufficient antidote to the challenges above and enable the interest & beauty to be revealed.