Who am I anyway?

Who am I anyway?

The “poetic-documentary performance” has a strong reference to Graz and runs as a co-production in the “Steirischer Herbst” at the Theater am Lend. This makes sense, since this year’s theme of the festival is “Humans and demons” and many of the contributions and their contents are linked to Graz.

The text was written by the ensemble itself. Bernhard Berl, Vinko Cener, Franciska Farkas, Natalija Teodosieva and Christian Winkler tell stories from their lives and those of their ancestors. Except for Natalija and Christian, who takes over the intro part, they all belong to the Roma population group and come from Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Macedonia. Between the individual descriptions, they all work together on a wooden boat with the inscription Feuerwehr Steiermark. They core it, sand off parts of the surface, paint and glue together individual wooden parts.

Moritz Weiß and Ivan Trenev (photos Edi Haberl)

Ivan Trenev (accordion) and Moritz Weiß (clarinet/bass clarinet) contribute a musically harmonious background from the edge of the stage. Klezmer with a strong Balkan drive, but also lyrical pieces that are easy on the ear, as well as dramatic sounds when the events on stage come to a head, are part of their repertoire.

The boat that is used on stage is one that was already used as a lifeboat in the Mur in the 1930s. The fact that it was not used when Bernhard Berl’s great-grandmother drowned herself in the Mur on March 13, 1938, testifies to the hostile social attitude that the Roma had to bitterly experience in the interwar period and during the Second World War.

Bernhard, who comes from eastern Styria, vividly recounts that when he was barely 20 years old, he set out to find his ancestors and learned that he was a Roma. During his narration, one notices how much he is still emotionally gripped by this circumstance, even if he downplays it first and foremost with the means of humor. “I’m Roma? Great, an Italian!” was his reaction to the revelation of his ancestry. Only his grandmother’s curt reply, “No, not Italian, a Gypsy!” pulls the rug out from under the young man. He freely admits that without psychological support he would not have been able to get his life back on track.

Natalja has had opposite experiences. From infancy, she was very attached to one of her “babas”, who was one of the most famous Roma singers. She wanted to become like her. When, at the age of eight, her brother told her that there was no blood relationship between this grandmother and her and that she was not a Romni, a world collapsed for her.

Vinko, a Roma from Slovenia, did not have to learn the language of his ancestors until adulthood. His parents were too concerned about integrating into their country and not standing out as Roma. It almost sounds like irony of fate that Vinko eventually had his own television show where he hosted Roma affairs. He has been living in Graz for many years now and experiences again and again what it means not to have been born here.

Franciska finally begins her account with a horrific story from the Nazi era. After a pause of consternation, in which one notices that the audience has become very uncomfortable, she suddenly puts on a completely different face and asks what would happen if this story were made up. Franciska is a professional actress, a celebrity in Hungary and would like nothing more than not to be constantly cast only in Romnja roles.

As different as all of the ensemble’s life stories and approaches to their Roma origins are, they are united by the fact that at some point in their lives their identities began to falter and they had to come to terms with their origins, whether they wanted to or not. With the inclusion of the boat, Franz von Strolchen created two artful dramaturgical levels that at first glance seem quite unobtrusive. On the one hand, he uses scrolling text to explain the philosophical paradox of the Ship of Theseus. Second, he creates a parenthesis with the rowboat. It encompasses the story of Bernhard’s great-grandmother, which is told at the beginning of the production, to the end because: In the last scene, the boat is sheathed in white fabric without words, wrapped with ropes and ultimately left alone on the stage. The association that stops here has it all: tied up in this way, people who die at sea and are not brought ashore, but find their final resting place in the floods of the seas or rivers.

“The Ship of Theseus” opens many windows into the past, but at the same time the almost overpowering desire of the performers for a better future becomes palpable. A future in which a person’s ancestry and origins should no longer play a role. Utopias become reality when they are lived. Starting now seems to be the order of the day in times like these, in which national countercurrents are on the rise again. Contemporary theater can hardly be more topical.

A good story is like a fit knife

A good story is like a fit knife

“A good story is like a fit knife”. Anna Luca Poloni recites this sentence at the beginning and end of her production “Orlando Trip“, which she premiered in Austria together with Christian Mair at the festival “Europa in Szene” focusing on “Sea Change – the art of transformation” at the Kasematten in Wiener Neustadt.

The cinematic-musical show, produced under the label “Fox on ice”, leans on the tradition of “concept albums” with 12 songs. With his album “Frank Sinatra sings for only the lonely“, Frank Sinatra is considered the forefather of this genre, in which the individual titles refer to each other and thus follow a certain “concept”.

“Orlando Trip” refers to Virginia Woolf’s famous book “Orlando” in which she tells of the transformation of a medieval knight into a woman. The fact that this transformation takes place over a period of 400 years additionally underlines the story’s fantastic construction of ideas. The original inspired and continues to inspire many artists to take up the material again and add their own interpretations. What is little known, even among literature geeks, is the fact that Woolf had a model for her text. Ludovico Ariosto’s “Orlando furioso” from the 16th century.Interestingly, it is precisely in our time that it is increasingly popping up in different ways. Several film adaptations, an opera by Olga Neuwirth, radio play adaptations, dance performances, but also those in public space, such as the Orlando project in Vienna make it clear that the material still offers sufficient impulses to deal with it in an original way.

Orlando Trip 19 c Ludwig Drahosch web

Orlando trip (Photo: Ludwig Drahosch)

Christian Mair and Anna Luca Poloni alias Anna Maria Krassnigg do this in their own way, which has a high recognition value. Film material, recorded by Christian Mair, is interlocked with texts by Anna Luca Poloni, which are sung by her, but partly also recited in a speech style. One is amazed at how polyglot the artist couple is in this production. The texts are largely written in English poetry, an undertaking usually only mastered by those literary artists whose mother tongue is English. In addition, there are Italian, but also French sprinklings, which underline the international touch that the production has.

It is not necessary to read the material beforehand, yet “Orlando Trip” manages to make you want to pick up Woolf’s book afterwards to read it for the first time, but also to read it again. A fact that is often found in productions by ‘wortwiege’. This also shows that one of the main tasks of this theatre is to convey literature. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about dramas or dramatised material. Sensual, joyful, theatrically realisable – these are the criteria that are decisive for a reception and a realisation of wortwiege. Not to forget: worthy of discussion.

Christian Mair’s compositions in “Orlando Trip” move between soft, often darkly coloured, lyrical songs and rocky, rhythmic, up to poppy catchy tunes. The performers trace the development of Orlando, underpin it with current visuals from many different countries and open windows into dream worlds. The main theme is the physical, but not mental transformation that Orlando undergoes in his sleep without any active intervention on his part. One witnesses how, as a young man, he discovers his feelings and his infatuation with Sasha, who abandons him at the all-important moment. One follows his turn to literature, which he continues to uphold as an elixir of life even later as a woman. And one marvels at the resistance of the female Orlando, who knows how to preserve her independence despite marriage and a son.

Orlando Trip 10 c Ludwig Drahosch web

Orlando trip (Photo: Ludwig Drahosch)

Anna Luca Poloni’s androgynous charisma in this production supports the fluidity between the gender boundaries. At the same time, despite her delicate appearance, one feels a permanent force in the portrayal of both the male and female parts that seems to be independent of gender. Young Orlando turns to literature as a matter of course after his love disaster in his inner emigration. Financially independent, he does not even ask himself whether he can and is allowed to do so. But one can also authentically empathise with the female astonishment at the games between man and woman. When Anna Luca Poloni sings “dimmi, Capitano”, this also addresses the female fascination with the uniform. At the same time, however, she conveys an irrevocable will for freedom at every moment, which she retains even after her transformation into a woman.

Christian Mair forms a kind of rock in the surf of the production next to her with his electric guitar. Setting the pace, he nevertheless succeeds in giving his partner so much playful freedom that they both appear equal in the audience’s perception. A circumstance that is seldom encountered in the concert business, but here it works perfectly in a symbiotic way.

“Why glue together? Is this nature’s will?” Orlando sings at one point, raising the question of cohabitation and marriage as a socially established phenomenon. Unlike current gender debates, Orlando`s transformation is completely frictionless, almost natural, at best astonishing. It is to this production’s greatest credit that it highlights this, albeit hypothetical, pacifist possibility.

As part of the “Sea Change” initiative, “Orlando Trip” was and is shown in many European countries. It would be a pleasure to be present at every single performance abroad to be able to follow the different audience reactions. At the premiere in the casemates of Wiener Neustadt, “Fox on ice” was applauded frenetically.

There will be another performance on 23.9.

This article was translated automatically with deepl.com


From the ape-like gait to the human jogging mania

From the ape-like gait to the human jogging mania

Man moves and fights against gravity from his first days to his last. This is one of the core statements of Aleksandar Acev, who was invited by wortwiege to the casemates of Wiener Neustadt. As part of the festival “Europa in Szene”, in the special “Sea change” edition, he rocked the hall with his production “Lucy was not long ago”.

Acev is a “body language teacher,” author, director as well as a university lecturer at various European universities, where he imparts his knowledge to acting students. Moving on stage and finding the right expression for the character and the situation is one thing. Observing people in everyday life and analyzing their emotional state or even their character in a few moments – this is also possible with Acev’s Bodylanguage knowledge. Both mediation approaches are thematized in his performance – however not theoretically dry, but made visible with his grandiose use of the body.

C Julia Kampichler Lucy was not long ago ASC 0069

Lucy was not long ago (Photo: Julia Kampichler)

Lucy the monkey is considered one of those ancestors of man who practiced the upright gait and thus established our way of life on two legs instead of four. Acev approaches this topic with a great deal of knowledge, body awareness and a large dose of humor, and delighted audiences across all ages with his story of animal and human movement history.

His brilliant show ranged from an easy introduction, the explanation and pointing out of many possible human gaits to four grandiosely performed, different shoulder looks and the resulting different forms of expression. With Lucy on one side of the stage and Scully – a miniature human skeleton – on the other side, he had brought two artificial antipodes to him, which he filled with life.

Particularly entertaining was the part in which he demonstrated his observations of jogging people: he juxtaposed one type, characterized by its looseness and bouncing gait, with another who, with his upper body bent backwards, seemed to be stuck in his past. Still others, who rush headlong into the future, without ifs and buts, or those who, bent with grief, nevertheless set off on the run – all of them and many more were alternately imitated by Acev almost every second. In the process, the performer juggled words just as well to accompany his performance.

The different ways of greeting, submissive, deprecating, fearful or hopeful triggered just as cheerful moods as the references to the direct Lucy kinship in the field of male sports greats. The tennis player Djokovic beating his chest with a clenched fist, the famous, unforgettable headbutt of the soccer player Zinédine Zidane – against the Italian Materazzi at the World Cup – or the wide-legged goal celebration of his colleague Ronaldo: all these short and yet so striking movements, demonstrated by the mime, made it clear that Lucy and her kind cannot have been extinct for so long. The evolution of man’s fusion with his chair – this was another theme that served as an eye-opener for one’s own movement patterns. Who hasn’t lounged at the office chair without energy on several occasions, who hasn’t had the feeling of being fused with his keyboard, and who hasn’t felt prompted to expose his body to sporting activities more often?

Probably the most amazing thing about Acev’s performance is the realization that with this kind of “edutainment” you can gain knowledge in a short time that you wouldn’t get by reading books for hours on end. And it does so in a highly enjoyable way. All who have seen “Lucy was not long ago” have been given a new observational insensitivity by the artist at the bottom. What a great side-effect, triggered by a theatrical event as part of the wortwiege festival.

This article was automatically translated with deepl.com

Orlando’s Vienna Stroll

Orlando’s Vienna Stroll

The theatrical project aimed to interactively confront the audience with the story of Orlando by Virginia Woolf along various stations within Vienna’s city center. On foot, equipped with a cell phone and headphones, they set out on a path with a total of five stations, accompanied by a charming guide. Approximately 9,000 steps had to be completed in a time of 1.5 hours. At each station, the participants received instructions on which environment they had to point the camera of the cell phone provided in order to activate the app installed on it.

Anisoglu and Pacher’s work is highly transnational, which in this context meant that every single station in Orlando’s life had been designed by other artists. Visuals that could be seen on the small cell phone screens partially merged with the environment for which they were made. Except for one station, the audience listened to the text by Sophie Steinbeck, who had made an abridgment, but also an overwriting of Woolf’s literary model. In doing so, she had used narratives from the individual book chapters on the one hand, but also introduced her own ideas, which at times added another layer to the original text. A small sample:

“the english language is not enough to say what he feels
the german language must be enough for the author to understand what orlando cannot say in english.”

Aras Levni Seyhan delivered the musical bracket that connected all the individual stations.
Claudia Virginia Dimoiu, Simon Goritschnig, Theo Emil Krausz, Nour Shantout, Cosima Büsing, Metamorkid and Lara Sienczak are those artists who had also been invited to this project and delivered contributions.

The story of Orlando is diverse and colorful, dreamlike and at the same time visionary in structure. “The Orlando project” adopts this multicolor. The narrative of the life of a man who transforms into a woman stretches from the Middle Ages up to our own time. Each of the five stations marks a particular time period and bears its own artistic signature. Visual transformations with the help of virtual reality, dance and song interludes recorded on video and reworked on the computer, but also a sculpture garden that you can walk through thanks to a magnificent artificial architecture, create variety and excitement. What begins in the Griechengasse finally ends in the Museumsquartier in front of the Mumok.

The diverse impressions have been charmingly recorded in a leporello, which one receives at the end of the trip. It thus becomes a kind of memory tool along which one can let one’s thoughts wander. Both a brief description of the individual stations and the complete text to be heard are recorded on it. The individual text stations are supplemented with a small photographic excerpt. Large enough to set the memory in motion, small enough to revive one’s own sensations and impressions.

In fact, the artistic team managed to create a sustainable work, which – it is planned – can be discovered in the future with the help of the app alone. This also makes sense, because the overabundance of impressions, coupled with the “real life” that inevitably surrounds you during the performance, do not allow you to take in, hear, see and process everything at the same time.

Individual aesthetically very successful realizations remain in the memory. For example, the artificial landscape of sculptural imprints by Simon Goritschnig in the Schweizerhof of the castle, or the work of Manuel Biedermann, who expanded the transgender performance of Metamorkid with a memorable mapping animation on the wall of the Mumok. The fragmented Persian carpet by Nour Shantout on the facade of the Weltmuseum, which symbolizes Orlando’s stay in Istanbul, also belongs to this group. It should also be noted that it succeeded in plausibly tracing Orlando’s passage through the centuries and ultimately seeing his change of gender in a contemporary light.

Should the project emancipate itself in the next step with a self-operating app, this could develop into a new Viennese attraction that artistically underscores the internationality of this city.

Frankenstein’s creature at the foot of the Salzburg Fortress

Frankenstein’s creature at the foot of the Salzburg Fortress

The Schauspielhaus, which overlooks the back of the Feste Salzburg, can almost be described as an insider tip. Although it is the largest independent theatre with a fixed ensemble, it surprisingly does not really get much attention beyond the region. Wrongly so. Because it offers a great variety of productions with currently 10 premieres per season. The second production this season, “Frankenstein”, is the responsibility of Jérôme Junod, the current theatre director and head dramaturge. He made his debut at the theatre last year with “King Arthur”, his own new version of the historical material. Due to a lockdown, this remarkable production was unfortunately only performed a few times. Now he has written his own stage version of Mary Shelley’s play, which was written in 1816, and given it a very special, novel drive.

The story can be imagined metaphorically like a Russian matryoshka doll – as a play, in a play, in a play. One after the other, different narrative strands develop, starting and ending with Roberta Walton. This one – richly endowed with male dominance – is an adventurer of the purest water who wants to reach the North Pole with a small crew on her own ship. Petra Staduan embodies not only this female free spirit, but just as magnificently the condemned Justine in the penitential lift, as well as the rebellious Agatha, who denounces the inequality between rich and poor. As Walton, she is almost constantly present on stage and listens to the stories of the young Victor Frankenstein.

The latter, rescued by her from the Nordic ice hell, tells her about his youth and study years at the university in Ingolstadt under the dominance of two cranky professors. These supported him to the point of absolute self-sacrifice in his endeavour to turn dead matter into living matter and create an artificial human being. Antony Connor and Olaf Salzer have the laughs on their side in these delightfully created roles. They also prove their comedic talent as sailors and switch just as skilfully to the serious characters of Frankenstein’s father and a blind revolutionary.

Wolfgang Kandler embodies the inquisitive young scientist who soon has to realise what misfortune he has brought upon his and his family’s lives with the creation of his “creature”. Magdalena Oettl in the role of Elisabeth, his fiancée, also frames the narrative as a new character introduced by Junod, Margaret Saville, a society columnist who is allowed to experience an amazing character development. Paul Andre Worms’s main character, Henry, childhood friend of Victor Frankenstein, is his complete opposite not only in terms of character structure but also visually. Cheerful and fun-loving, helpful and open, he is nevertheless murdered by Frankenstein’s monster out of a thirst for revenge.

Except for the very last scene, the latter appears in black, tight-fitting trousers with a large, black hooded jumper in such a way that one can hardly make out his face. (Costumes Antoaneta Stereva) Hussan Nimr, as Frankenstein’s creature, is permanently in motion, with a dark, threatening voice, and makes his unnatural origins clear through his animal-like movements. He makes off on all fours, he climbs nimbly onto scaffolding and usually stands with his head bowed while he tries to tell his story. It is the ambivalence of this character and, above all, the recognition of why he himself has become a monster, which is very touching and gives the story in the Schauspielhaus in Salzburg its very own colouring. Bernhard Eder provides live musical accompaniment to the action, both vocally and on electric guitar and electronics, thus lending it additional emotional moments.

Junod’s interpretation of “Frankenstein” does not rely on horror effects and the generation of goose bumps in the first place. Instead, it impresses with a finely crafted psychogram of an outsider whose greatest shortcoming is his loneliness, which he tries to sublimate through feelings of revenge and thus becomes a mass murderer. A successful evening of theatre in an autumn in which world history is unfortunately teeming with monsters.

This article was automatically translated with deepl.com

Why is this Shakespeare so unknown?

Why is this Shakespeare so unknown?

When the name Shakespeare comes to mind, most of us probably think of the royal dramas such as Lear, Macbeth or Hamlet. But to find someone who has seen Coriolanus, you have to search a long time. The theatre company “wortwiege” has just remedied this with its festival “Europa in Szene”. The theatre maker and professor of directing at the Max Reinhardt Seminar, Anna Maria Krassnigg, invited two former students of her directing class to the current festival edition to show their final projects. Azelia Opak dug deep into her research and, with an ensemble of young but already established actors and two members of the “wortwiege”, presents the rise and fall of the Roman patrician Coriolanus. It is the last Shakespeare work and is generally considered mature. Its varying interpretive authority may perhaps be to blame for the fact that it is not often performed.

Coriolanus 0614 c Julia Kampichler web

Coriolanus (Photo: Julia Kampichler)

Coriolanus, drilled for battle from childhood, applies for the office of Roman consul, pushed by his mother. He has sufficiently earned the merits for it; he could show more than 20 scars to the people, as was customary before taking office, in order to prove himself loyal to Rome. He could – if it were not for his indomitable pride. It is this pride that finally brings him down. A few centuries after Shakespeare, there will be a second character called Michael Kohlhaas who will be just as unbending as Coriolanus, even if the motive is different.

But until that happens, Opak shows Shakespeare’s characters in all their psychological differentiation: Coriolanus (Lukas Haas), the indomitable one, who for once does not remain true to his principles, but otherwise can be considered a stubborn man par excellance. It’s great how Haas can talk himself into a fury that is almost frightening. His mother Volumnia (Judith Richter), who, like today’s sports mothers, demands everything from her son in order to be able to bask in his glory. Menenius Agrippa (Jens Ole Schmieder), a member of the elite caste, who supports Coriolanus with well-meaning advice so as not to endanger his own position. Tullus Aufidius (Philipp Dornauer), Coriolanus’ multiple loser in battle, is just waiting to take revenge at the right moment. Despite his youth, Dornauer mimes a hot-blooded fighter, but puts a large portion of thoughtfulness before each of his actions. Junius Brutus (Paul Hüttinger), one of the first tribunes of the people, quickly learned how political intrigues work. Although his external attributes, such as a thick silver chain around his neck, indicate his closeness to the people, Hüttinger nevertheless imbues his tribune with a great deal of deviousness and cunning. Finally, Sicinius Velutus (Uwe Reichwaldt), second tribune of the people, who, in Opak’s direction, muddles his way through all dangerous situations like an Austrian civil servant-Slavin and has the audience’s sympathy on his side.

An extremely clever stage design (Felix Huber) separates the long stage space. A round revolving door – the front in gleaming gold, the back painted pitch black – indicates whether the action is taking place in Rome or with Rome’s enemy, the Volsces. After the last battle won, Coriolanus smears blood with his own hands on the large mirror in the stage apse, making it clear that his battles have cost more than just one human life.

The idea of accompanying the production with live music is not only great, but also makes dramaturgical sense. Boglarka Bako and Marie Schmidt repeatedly intonate Beethoven’s Coriolanus motif with slight variations on their string instruments. This also underlines those moments in which the patrician sees himself completely in his element as a popular leader and aristocratic ruler who takes the right to make his decisions without the people, whom he actually considers annoying and dispensable. The two musicians sit left and right at the back of the stage in such a way that they can be seen but do not disturb the play on the limited stage.

The production not only lives from the fact that it shows different views of a successful state and their respective representatives. The production also lives from strong, emotional moments, such as the one in which Coriolan’s mother throws herself on her knees before him and begs him for mercy for Rome. The way she clings to him shortly afterwards clearly shows the fateful connection between her and her son. Judith Richter remains indelibly in memory with this scene. But Jens Ole Schmieder also succeeds in showing what high acting is in an almost wordless performance. The way he pushes the tribunes to the side of the stage with short, disparaging snaps and doesn’t let them take their seats in the middle gets under your skin and makes him deeply despicable at this moment.

Who is good here and who is evil here is ultimately not really discernible. As in real life, there is no real black and no real white in this play. What remains is the realisation that politics used to be made by people, just as it is today. By people who, on the one hand, are where they are by virtue of their own will and, on the other hand, have conquered a place for themselves thanks to family or political networks, for which they are prepared to make personal sacrifices, but also to go over dead bodies.

The fact that the play seems to be made for the casemates in Wiener Neustadt is another plus point of the production. The other performances are framed by salon talks, but also a new format. With “speeches”, speeches by famous people are reenacted, which one usually only knows from hearsay. Another great artistic idea that illuminates the large field of “power”, which is ultimately the subject of “Szene Europa” in the casemates of Wiener Neustadt, from a different angle.

This article was translated with deepl.com

Pin It on Pinterest