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Urban Performance

Totem - Common Sense, Esch2020

TOTEM –Common Sense, Esch-Sur-Alzette May 2022


See also: TOTEM –Common Sense Process 2016-2021



The first performance of Totem-Common Sense took place on May 13th 2022 on a former mining site of the city of Audun-le-Tiche in Eastern France. Part of the transborder European Capital of Culture celebrations of Esch 2020, the show evolved from its previous generic form to a specific, asymmetric abstract city backed up against a forest.


The general synopsis of the show was unchanged from the initial 2016 project: four protagonists, each reflecting on the process of leaving behind their lives without warning. A fifth character -a bailiff, organising the sifting of goods to be taken or left behind- was also given a central role. There were 8 principal performers (including three dancers), eight musicians and a chorus of local volunteers.


Scenographic intentions:


What should I have taken that I did not? I took money and an identity card. I took two rings (people in the books always take always take jewellery). But I left the cross on the wall, a family heirloom, and the painting of a Guelders rose. I chose to leave all the icons. I chose to leave all the icons behind to keep my house and my city, Kiev.

Natal'ya Vorozhbit

Ukrainian playwright, 30 March 2022


The city is made up of relations between the measurements of its space and the events of its past.

Italo Calvino

Città Invisibile


The performance space of Totem or Common Sense is founded on the dichotomies of space-time and matter-memory.


This fictitious city erected on the supposed founding places of the "real" city is both volume and absence, composition and decomposition. Filled with the sorrows of our present, the traumas of departures in real time close to home, built by piling up the immaterial memories of identities carried to new places, this setting is neither a square nor a city centre, a street, a park, a block of flats, but all of these at the same time. It has something of the quality of Italo Calvino's embroidered city ‘Octavia,’ "more certain" (he says) in its ephemeral, taut threads than solid cities made of stone. Time-knitted by the thoughts, dreams, hopes and regrets of its inhabitants in video-mapping, Totem's city is made of the measured and the immeasurable.

Creative Team

Author and director: Laurent-Guillaume Dehlinger

Co-author and scenographer: Andrew Todd

Artistic collaborator: Sylvie Pellegrini

Choreographer: Amélie Patard

Pyrotechnic design and musical conception and performance: Les Commandos Percu

Costume designer: Daniel Trento

Graphic designer & video mapping: Cédric Bachorz

Musical composer and arranger: Manu Rack

In the framework of :

European Capital of Culture Esch2022.

With the support of :

The Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles du Grand Est, the Région Grand Est, the Département de la Moselle, the CCPHVA, La Nuit de la Culture, the City of Audun-le-Tiche, and the City of Metz.

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