Laughter is the best medicine for Antonia Baehr

By Emma Love
Friday 14 January 2011 01:00

The German choreographer Antonia Baehr's show Laugh involves her standing on stage by herself, laughing for no apparent reason.

Laughter is not necessarily associated with something being funny, she explains: "Laughter can appear in many circumstances; there's angry laughter, mocking laughter, laughter through fear. One aspect of laughing is when something is funny – but that's not most of the time."

The idea for the show, first created in 2008, came about when she asked her friends and family how they saw her and the response was "as the one who laughs". She asked each of them to give her scores for her laughter as birthday presents in the form of objects. Some gave audio tapes; one gave a book on how to laugh on command; another a drawing of someone moving like a bird which she had to interpret through laughter. She then ran a laughter workshop. "We did classes with people who said that they laughed a lot, often artificially. It was nice to practise in a group."

But will the audience find this show funny? "Laughter is contagious, so the audience might be contaminated, but the goal isn't to make people laugh. If they're silent, that's ok, too. It means that they're listening."

'Laugh', Sadler's Wells, London EC1 ( 26 and 27 January

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