The Establishing Shot: The Black Diamond - Scene 1

Monday, July 11, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

the black diamondLast Sunday I was invited along to Scene 1 of The Black Diamond presented by Stella Artois Black. On first hearing of The Black Diamond my interest was piqued. I enjoy Stella Artois’ marketing particularly their adverts that evoke nostalgia of old Europe whilst entertaining.

the black diamond lolathe black diamond jaques
Lola The Black Diamond - Jaques The Black Diamond

Over the last couple of years Stella Artois has been using a noir motif to promote their Stella Artois Black brand. The imagery evoking the great cinema of the period like the works of; Godard, Melville, Powell, Pressburger, Reed and early Boorman.

the black diamond the traitorthe black diamond the thief
The Traitor The Black Diamond - The Thief The Black Diamond

This noir theme culminated in the interactive theatre experience The Night Chauffeur last year. The Night Chauffeur was a play that used various locations in London as its stage and the audience as extras to tell the story.

The Night Chauffeur

Unfortunately by the time I saw the glossy advert in Empire magazine for The Night Chauffeur tickets were long gone.

So when I got wind of Stella Artois Black’s new interactive theater project The Black Diamond taking place in and locations in Shoreditch. I was keen to get in on the action. Then I read the small print and realised that PUNCHDRUNK were involved. And The Black Diamond was upgraded to must see.

PUNCHDRUNK are the interactive theatre troupe that inhabit locations, turn them into interactive environments and roll out plays that encourage audience participation like The Masque of Red Death at the Battersea Old Town Hall or Faust in Wapping.

Tickets sell out quickly and so far I have not been able to be involved in one of their performances. So when I was invited along to scene 1 of The Black Diamond I jumped at the opportunity. All I knew at that stage was the basic plot :
"July the 4th 1963. A man is about to give his true love a diamond. Alors! The Thief! The man makes a curse. "Who ever has this diamond" he says "will be betrayed. They will be alone. And even if they sing loud enough so that the Gods hear them. The diamond will always leave them..."
The character profiles spread throughout this post. And that the story of The Black Diamond would play out across a couple of weeks

I roped an associate (who is all about the line between cinema and social dynamics) in to come along and we headed off to Rue Blackhall in the heart of Shoreditch to discover the secrets of The Black Diamond.

Pretty soon we were making our way down a small staircase into Jacques Ferre’s Parisian hideaway. I know it was Jacques’ place as we were given some of his business cards at the door.

Stella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Monsieur Jacques Ferre Diamantaire by Craig Grobler
On the back of the card Jacques had written a note to Claude saying that we were friends and asked Claude to please extend his famous hospitality to us.
Before we got to the bottom of the stairs we could hear the upbeat cool of 60s new wave, bopping, oohing and ahhing up the stairs. Jacques place was heaving; he lives in a typical Parisian 2 story decorated with all the latest 60s hipster style accessories. Rich mahogany furniture, orange plastics and thick Middle Eastern rugs.
We made our way around his residence, trying to spot characters or performers from the crowd as we tried to figure out what was going on. Feeling somewhere between Alain Delon and Hercule Poirot waking up in a room full of strangers. The experience prompting my associate to exclaim that we might be the only guests and everyone else was part of the show. I was unsure what was real and what was being acted out, had we actually just gate crashed someone’s party? But pretty soon we were chatting with other party goers and feeling less like interlopers.

Jacques’ Living room was now a makeshift dance floor, above the heads of the dancers a paper chain hung spelling out: “JACQUES LOVES CECILE”.

We made our way upstairs through another dance floor full of alluring ladies. We headed to Claude to try his famous hospitality, handing over Jacques cards we were rewarded with some welcome refreshments. Outside summer had truly set in. Above the dance floor the roof was covered in floating balloons, their golden tails dancing over our heads.

While investigating Jacques Diamond Cutting Station we heard whispers from other guests that “She was on her way, and we should start piping down”. We surmised that Cecile might be the she on her way.
Stella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Upstairs in Jacques' Diamantre - Are there clues? by Craig GroblerStella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Upstairs in Jacques' Diamantre - Are there clues? by Craig GroblerStella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Upstairs in Jacques' Diamantre - Are there clues? by Craig Grobler
Pretty soon the noise level in the room drops as guests come in signalling so. Cecile is lead into the room blindfolded. All sorts of questions immediately rose. How did Were we indeed the only guests?

One of Cecile’s friends removes her blind fold and we are shout out: “Surprise!” the dance floor fills again as the mood elevates to celebrate.

Stella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Upstairs in Jacques' Diamantre - Suprise Cecile! by Craig Grobler
Stella Artois presents: The Black Diamond - Scene 1 - Upstairs in Jacques' Diamantre - Suprise Cecile!, a photo by Craig Grobler on Flickr.

We head back down stairs to explore Jacques apartment, the artefacts from his life and try glean what will be happening next. While I’m wandering around Jacques’s bathroom a young lady approaches me asking to check her eye, and if I see something in it. Is this staged? Should I be looking for a clue around her because I can’t see anything in her eye. The social awkwardness of the situation elevated to ridiculous levels as I’m unsure of the appropriate way to respond. Should I be giving into reckless abandon and going with the flow? What if she was a guest like me and there was genuinely something wrong with her eye?
While I was struggling with all these questions another guest steps in and I thankfully bid my new friends adieu (after a quick look around the area, for any clues I may have missed) and head back into the Living Room which is in full swing. I noticed Lola from the character pictures and decided to keep an eye on her as her role would become apparent.

We chat with each other and occasionally other guests and glean that Jacques may be giving something special to Cecile tonight, a diamond that he has been working on for six years, amongst other party talk.

A young lady comes over; she has been challenged to dance in front of me. Are guests getting challenges? Just as I settle into the notion and gear up to start dancing myself, not something I’m naturally inclined to do. We are interrupted as a dashing young man leaps onto a table letting us know that he has a big announcement and that we should head outside. I recognise him as Jacques and greet him and thank him for the party as we head back outside for the announcement.

Below is a film clip of what happened next.

When the performance ended and we were making our way home in the warm sunlight. I couldn't shake the niggling notion that I had missed a clue in the bathroom earlier.

Tickets for Scene 2 of The Black Diamond are going to be released today over at

The Black Diamond - Scene 1

Locations across Shoreditch, London

3 - 21 July, 2011

For more info,updates and to apply for tickets to experience The Black Diamond:
Head to (The Black Diamond is open to over 18’s only)