Loose Promise

Kate McIntosh
Performance, 2008

A project devised and performed by Kate McIntosh

Based on original texts written by Tim Etchells, M. John Harrison, Deborah Levy, Richard Maxwell and Jo Randerson - and on material written by Kate McIntosh
Dramaturgy: Lilia Mestre, Artistic advice from Fiona Wright, Caroline Daish, Katja Dreyer, Light design: Florian Bach, Video projections: Boris Belay
Production: Margarita Production for The Other vzw,

Coproducers: Sophiensaele (D), Theater Gasthuis (NL)
With the support of: nadine, Kaaitheater (B), Les Halles de Schaerbeek (B), STUK Kunstencentrum (B), Kunstencentrum Vooruit (B), European Commission Culture 2006

The project Loose Promise is a commission of 'Telling Time' - a performance festival in the thematic of narrative.

©Luc Massin

Some stories are treason, some are dreamy, some are brutal, some are too funny to believe, some are too painfulto tell straight, some are magical and others are poorly made, some might be the honest truth, and some are beautiful but hard to remember. A narrative is a slippery thing.

Kate McIntosh has collaborated with five writers to make the performance text for Loose Promise. She gave each of them the same set of narrative ingredients to start from, but asked each to write their own version of the story. The result is a collection of beautiful, difficult and compelling narratives. The stories are bound by their shared origin, but they head out in very different and surprising directions. The narratives of Loose Promise create worlds that echo each other, and yet can hardly co-exist. The performance itself, sparked by a fascination with the interdependence of stories, explores our compulsion to keep forming and digesting them....

On stage, the lone performer takes on the task of laying these narratives back together again. Allowing the events she tells to lodge in her own body she uses image, gesture and objects, to enact fragments of the stories she recounts. The debris of these versions and try-outs accumulates on stage, as the stories themselves stack and balance in unlikely combinations. In Loose Promise both the telling and hearing of a story is work - the pleasurable work of words, and the creative work of letting different worlds collide and tangle. Meanwhile, through this innovative performance, McIntosh asks what the stories we have are doing to us, as we let them enter our mouths, our thoughts and our memories.

The writers involved are Tim Etchells, M John Harrison, Deborah Levy, Richard Maxwell, and Jo Randerson.

"A clever colourful lesson in storytelling" (04/02/2009, Der Standard).

"...Kate McIntosh caused a stampede of anticipation with Loose Promise in the smaller confines of Tramway 4. This is solo storytelling that soars and pounces, tickles you into hoots of laughter, then teases you to tears, with McIntosh's huskily persuasive voice luring you inside her jigsaw of incidents. She'd invited various writers to fashion text around some set images, then set herself the task of melding their responses into a panorama of identifiable fears, fantasies, urges and hidden-away secrets - all heightened by astutely selected objects and actions. All done with a lightness of touch that left you surprised at how intense, how forceful, this word- spinning was" (17/02/2009, The Herald, Scotland).

"Kate McIntosh is telling us something. Aspire to something more beautiful in a kaleidoscope of stories. In her current work, Loose Promise, the subject matter is storytelling. She gave the same narrative elements to five authors, including Tim Etchells und Richard Maxwell, from which to write a story. On stage the performer weaves them into a loose carpet. After the end of the great narratives, on today's stages the micro-stories, torn-up narratives and
scraps of stories grow into impressive experiences.... Often these are multiperspective storytelling strands, which at best come together in the mind of the audience to form a shimmering kaleidoscopic whole, enriched by the chameleon-like nature of the performer who slips from one character to the next" (Journal Frankfurt issue 5/09).

"The watering can makes words fluid: Loose Promise by Kate McIntosh at the brut theatre. The deconstruction of texts used to be a complex affair. Now it is enough to throw the written A4 pages into the shredder. And then, best of all, to finish off by turning on a fan and pointing it at the shreds of paper. The artist Kate McIntosh, born in New Zealand and now living in Belgium, is the creator of precisely this kind of postmodern joke which she is now "telling" for the first time in Vienna, in the brut co-production theatre. Namely: how should one tell functioning stories in the theatre today, in times in which faith in the harmonious whole has been removed, times which call for multiperspective thinking, and times of disintegrating realities? This is being attempted as part of the brut "Telling Time" season. Kate McIntosh asked five colleagues, including stars such as Tim Etchells and Richard Maxwell, to weave a story of their own from a few fixed narrative elements. In her eloquent solo performance "Loose Promise" (performed again on Thursday at 20:00 in the brut Künstlerhaus, with public discussion) she brings the individual strands, each with a life of their own, into an integrated form – and at the same time shows the failure of this process. Under the flow of rain from a watering can which splashes down on her, the pieces of text slip through her fingers; at another time she loses the floor beneath her feet, on a metaphorical level, and topples over bleeding next to her microphone on the soft green carpet. Kate McIntosh plays through the plots, puts puzzles into new contexts, combines picture statements with word statements, and switches between levels as a presenter of herself and a re-teller of the story" (04/02/2009, Der Standard).

"In her performance Loose Promise Kate McIntosh is putting in question the act of speech as a place of power - subverting its coherence and constructing narratives that are broken and re-mixed in a such a manner that we can feel invited to "repair them" on a same footing with the performer.
In her performance the stage is not a privileged platform from which she is authoritatively addressing the public, but a vulnerable and fractured place of encounter, which we are invited to inhabit through the use of our own imaginations" (Igor Dobricic - Volume, May 2008, publication of Gasthuis/Frascati, Amsterdam).

©Luc Massin
©Luc Massin
©Luc Massin
©Luc Massin



CAMPO, Gent (BE)


Grand Theatre, Groningen (NL)


Halles de Schaerbeek, Trouble #6, Brussels (BE)


TNT Bordaux, Bordeaux (FR)


Globalise:Cologne, Köln (DE)


Black Box Theatre, Oslo (NO)


BUDA Kunstencentrum, BUDA Fresh #6, Kortirjk (BE)


Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt (DE)


National Review of Live Arts, Glasgow (UK)


BRUT, Vienna (AT)


Gessnerhalle, Zurich (CH)


Kunststiftung NRW, Köln (DE)


Théâtre Garonne, Toulouse (FR)


Theater Gasthuis [Melkweg], Amsterdam (NL)


Sophiensaele, Telling Time Festival, Berlin (DE) - PREMIERE