W is a research collective that studies action in a performance setting. What does it mean to act as others watch? What characterizes the relation we call theater?

To answer these questions, W simultaneously develops three complementary approaches: a practice, which builds tools and techniques for the actor; a critical method, which suggests reception guidelines for the spectator; and a theory, which works towards defining notions useful to the first two approaches.

In particular, W produces games, a score writing software, a lexicon of operational notions, workshops and practical sessions, critical seminars, as well as articles and conferences.

The W-games are devices that formalize some aspects of the activities of the performer, the playwright, or the audience member. They take on the form of ready-to-play performances.

They are sometimes played in front of an audience. Though some require prior training, everyone is welcome to join in most of them : one needs only to know the rules.

Here W presents 4 games: the Bloc Game, the Tomb Game, Générique and the Rule Game.

To go further than the rules of the games, you can read the following articles : Bloc Tactics, A Game of Tomb and A Round of The Rule Game.


The Tomb Game was created in 2008, at a dinner bringing together Adrien Bardi Bienenstock, François Hiffler, Pascale Murtin, Grégory Castéra, Phoenix Attala, Jeanne Revel, and Joris Lacoste.

It was developed in reaction to the Bloc Game, of which it is almost a perfect negative: where the Bloc Game works on continuity, the Tomb Game plays with constant cuts, systematic breaks. Where the Bloc Game is cooperative, the Tomb Game is competitive. While the Bloc Game speaks to an audience and is turned outwards, the Tomb Game is played among familiars (indeed, it is closer to a parlor game than to a political tool, as the Bloc Game is).

Like any interesting game, the real stakes here are not to win or to lose, but to play a beautiful round of it: this is rooted in players’ abilities to perform the external signs of a normal conversation (ways of addressing others, of answering, of taking back the floor, etc.) while saying something perfectly incoherent.

By imposing systematic breaks through an appearance of continuity, the Tomb Game makes use of a particular form of mental arrangement: disjunction. More than a simple poetics of the absurd, disjunction is a compositional tool that can be extremely powerful when rallied in the right places.

The following text was written based on a round of the Tomb Game played by Lou Forster, Viviana Moin, Valentina Desideri, Cecilia Bengolea, Adrien Bardi Bienenstock, Grégory Castéra, Constantin Alexandrakis, Lenio Kaklea, Nariman Hatami, Joris Lacoste, and Jeanne Revel.


Croupier: Ladies and gentlemen, this round’s speckle will be the word “virtual.

// First round

– Today I celebrated my thousandth friend on Facebook.
– I only have eighteen, though Julien Coupat is one of them.
– I have: Ayrton Senna, Bernard Menez, Liv Taylor, and Joey Starr.
– The other day, Jean-Luc Mélenchon sent me a friend request…
– I see that you have a truly virtual social life.
– Yes, especially with livestock. Vaccination costs are enormously high.
– It’s true, Rachel was absent that day. Otherwise she really would have lectured him about it.
– Why, is it not the longest in the world?
– It is, but she naively thought that by appearing on T.V. she would win his love back…
– I had the same problem when I was living in Africa; what’s less funny, however, is that I’m still feeling its effects.
– I can see it, man: all of the finishing touches are botched, it’s borderline sabotage.
– Definitely. But he’s a far better actor with Coppola than with Scorsese…
– So, are wolf-dogs really mean?
– It depends. I’ve known some that would have sold their souls to taste my mille-feuille.
– I mean, who would work in an armory?
– Definitely… If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them that melancholy is an illness, not a case of the blues.
– But what if the country’s first lady is… a man?
– Then it’s different. In this particular case, you have to radically change his sensory environment, by repainting the bars of his cage in green for example.
– Yes, that’s what I did myself. That said, I couldn’t stop myself from rewriting the lyrics…
– That’s definitely the kind of thing you would do. It reminds me of my cousin Julien: everyone thought he would be an engineer, but in the end he became a carpenter…
– That’s how it is in Bartok’s fifth string quartet: the symmetry is almost perfect.
– Yeah… But I still think we’re making a mistake inviting his wife.
– Tomb!
Croupier: Open the tomb.
– “First lady” and“wife.”
Croupier: Tomb accepted.

// Second round

Croupier: Please drop the speckle once again.
– Lou, is Joey Starr really your friend on Facebook?
– Yes, and so is Alain Badiou.
– Isn’t he the guy who’s working on the actual/virtual paradigm?
– No, that’s the Founding Father. I mean, that’s what they call him in Washington…
– But I wonder: if your father changes genders, does he become your mother?
– Oh yeah, I always had a weakness for Raëlians. I find them to be touching.
– Me too, but as far as translation goes, I definitely prefer Derrida.
– Viviana, your cigarillos are annoying, they really stink.
– Sorry to disagree, my dear, but Giotto is after Cimabue.
– Unless you die very, very young?
– Maybe, but you should’ve watched the second season: it was by far the best.
– You think so? Grégory was telling me he was against hunting, though.
– Ask the Colombians, they also paid for neoliberalism.
– That said, I love listening to its call at night, when the clouds pass softly through the sky.
– Yes, me too. I could never warm up to the color beige, however; I find it to be really too conservative for curtains…
– Friends, I think I have the Chikungunya virus.
– You mean you learned it by heart?
– I’m not surprised to hear you say that, you’ve always been sentimental.
– But Jeanne, that protest earlier, what was it for?
– It’s easy: you take the motor from a lawnmower, and you flip it over. You tighten the two rear bolts with a wrench and you’re done.
– Don’t you have to add a hint of chili?
– No, I think it’s just a question of orientation.
– Joris, have you ever made love to a bodybuilder?
– Yes, that was the day my grandmother caught fire.
– I still haven’t understood how we had ended up speaking Spanish.
– Tomb!
Croupier: Open the tomb.
– “Colombians” and “speaking Spanish”
Croupier: Tomb accepted.

// Third round

Croupier: Please drop the speckle once again.
– Another hour at this pace and we’ll be able to apply to the OuPerPo, the Ouvroir of Potential Performances.
– My head is completely turned around.
– I’m starting to think upside down.
– That’s the very virtue of this game.
– Is there a link between virtue and the virtual?
– I don’t know, I made a claim with the SNCF [French National Railway Company] but it always takes weeks…
– As you wish. There’s a sweater in the closet just in case.
– Thanks. Just so you know, the Croix-aux-Mines monument is noted, which puts an end to the list of municipalities starting with “C.”
– Good news for the left!
– Yes, it’s true, she’s a pretty easy girl, for a guy.
– Hehe, you see, Valentina, that doesn’t only happen on Sundays…
– You mean that a native language is a trap?
– No, it’s a plant that’s as green as it gets.
– Apparently navigation sensors have been the cause of those recent plane crashes.
– Tomb!
Croupier: Open the tomb.
– “SNCF” and “plane.”
Croupier: Tomb rejected.

// Fourth round

Croupier: Please drop the speckle once again.
– Isn’t it a little hot in here?
– You mean it’s stifling.
– We need some refreshments.
– We need to dive into a virtual world of ice and snow.
– It would be a new chance for participatory democracy.
– Nariman, is it true that Jan makes a living selling adulterated ginseng?
– Why, did he mistake you for someone else?
– Yes, one day I was called in by the assistant principal because I had gotten completely naked in biology class.
– Three tons for a hundred meters! Come on!
– It makes me think of Paul Claudel, because of the pillars of Notre-Dame.
– But it’s not possible to throw up in the morning… At least I can’t.
– Turn on the T.V., Gérard Depardieu is doing an ad for a tomato sauce.
– I’m no expert, but it looks more like a pulsar.
– I don’t know, try the scooter…
– Adrien, do you also have a domineering father?
– In a sense, but one I wasn’t able to climb on until I was twenty-one years old.
– That’s because of global warming.
– He had a pet monkey; a gibbon, I think.
– I heard you cut your ear, why did you do that?
– Because she invited me to her wedding, and I didn’t have a three-piece suit.
– Would you give me a tango lesson?
– No, it’s all of that grandiloquent metaphysics that we need to eradicate.
– Seriously, do you really think he gave blood to scientology?
– It’s very possible. Anything is possible with Alliot-Marie.
– When it rises, you have to stop a bit, then start again slowly.
– You mean that your lover tattooed it on your chest himself!?
– As for me, I’ve never been to the West Indies, but I’d like to.
– Me too, but I thought it was a group of tens of people…
– No, that’s the prophet Eli’s portion. Didn’t you learn anything in Sunday school?
– …
Croupier: Mute takes the pot.

// Fifth round

Croupier: Please drop the speckle once again.
– Constantin, are you making progress on the website for W?
– Not really. I haven’t had much time lately.
– For those who don’t know, Constantin is a distinguished webmaster, a master of the virtual.
– Not exactly: that’s actually a river fish.
– In any case, she really looks like Lady Gaga, no?
– That’s exactly what people call a genre movie.
– Except that I usually wear a cap…
– And you, Lou, do you eat pork?
– I just decided to stop shaving my beard, that’s all.
– Because of waterskiing? You didn’t have a permit?
– Yes, I walked in on people having sex in my bed.
– How is it possible with one hand?
– In 1964. But he never claimed responsibility for the attack.
– I understand. Last night, it was The Fantastic Symphony and the whole village was there.
– Oh yeah? In Egypt then?
– I thought you were coming to see the exhibition…
– No… I was married once, but he didn’t know it.
– Has that ever happened to you, Grégory? With fire ants and everything?
– Yes, but it’s mainly hard for his father, his hernia doesn’t give him the slightest break.
– I don’t think so, he started doing judo when he was three years old.
– Apparently orgies were commonplace at the time.
– Tomb!
Croupier: Open the tomb.
– “Having sex” and “orgy.”
Croupier: Tomb accepted.

// Sixth round

Croupier: Please drop the speckle once again.
– Constantin, what is it like working for Jeanne and Joris?
– In any case, I’m still waiting for the advance they promised me.
– Well, we’re having cash flow problems. The organization is in a state of virtual bankruptcy.
– Already? I thought that your train was late because of the railway worker strike.
– No, according to Dumézil, it really started in the Middle Ages.
– But I have dark memories…
– Still, be careful not to burn yourself.
– What kind of yoga do you do, Cecilia?
– It’s called The Coming Insurrection. It’s published by La Fabrique.
– But we’re much more than 343 sluts!
– Viviana, isn’t that a bit of a Hegelian statement?
– If you want, but if I were you I wouldn’t get too close to his little ones.
– Why, does he question the Resurrection?
– It’s mostly that no one knows how he could have made so much money in so little time…
– It’s like my upstairs neighbors: they play checkers a lot.
– How can you know what’s going on in your grandmother’s heart?
– Oh, you know, the 70s are really overrated, in my opinion.
– And the pool, that’s not a problem for you?
– No, it always starts with this kind of sentence: “Fellow countrymen…”
– And it always ends with a publication in Science or La Recherche
– A temp died in a meat grinder on Friday.
– My dad played a lot of soccer when he was a teenager.
– You mean you haven’t slept in three days?
– Sometimes I think too much; this will make me enemies…
– It looks like you also have hair problems?
– As always in this kind of game…
– And there you go: the crowd gets broken up with shots of tear gas and water canons.
– Tomb!
Croupier: Open the tomb.
– “Insurrection” and “crowd gets broken up with shots of tear gas and water canons”

Croupier: Tomb accepted. Torch!