2 June: Premiere of “Fundstadt” in Bremen / 16 June: Premiere in Gelsenkirchen. The reviewer of the Bremer Kreiszeitung describes the performance as “magical”. Fundstadt’s claim to “let us see the world through a child’s eyes”, he says, initially seems “a bit kitschy”. One of its greatest assets is that it has escaped all kitsch. Just as the team met the children involved at eye level, so now does the audience. The “beings” that the six children invented for themselves as companions appear threatened in quite a few cases. “They want to break you” says Ali to his, which he hides in a shoe box. He promises him to protect it. “The truth is not always the most beautiful” speaks the voice of a girl from Bremen from offstage (most of the time she is downright “disgusting”). She wants to become a veterinarian. But what if an animal got into trouble and a friend needed her help at the same time? There would then be no right thing to do. So she has decided to do without friends in her life. Salvation is not one of these children’s worlds.
Where sound does not oppose the visual in music theatre, it runs the risk of becoming bogged down in the subconscious. The six films do not escape this either. In front of the film image, the music liquefies into a soundtrack in places, although it deserves to be heard more consciously. The live actions, created by children and instrumentalists, compensate for this. Their visual and sound memory motifs bring back the images and sounds of the film.
The six filmic portraits of children remain the same in both cities. Three in each city link directly to the place where they are seen. The live actions differ only slightly as such in both cities, but change their character with different spatial placement. The surfaces of shimmering gold paper – they refer to film in a shoebox – seem lively in the Gelsenkirchen sunshine, magical in the Bremen pedestrian tunnel.
The short finale, in which the live children interact with the audience, took place in Bremen in the theatrical atmosphere of the Brauhaus stage there. Colourful light illuminated irregularly placed crumpled chairs. If in Gelsenkirchen one had been one of the first to finish one’s way, in the upper foyer of the MiR one encountered thirty cots arranged in a strict row, as if Beuys had been reborn to counterpoint Yves Klein’s wall space. The irritation of “what is actually theatre here and what perhaps simply belongs to the world” (Bremer Kreiszeitung) was not resolved here, but symbolically heightened once again by the wide view through the glass window of Gelsenkirchen as a found city. When thirty people then lay lined up on the cots, they appeared like the wounded in a military hospital. Children appeared above them as doctors. They looked up at them from their cots and the little ones were suddenly the big ones. One after the other, they turned their attention to each patient, exchanging a glance with him through a hand mirror.
“Fundstadt” is in the middle of the final spurt and “Freedom Collective” is picking up speed. Often in May or June, two feXm production teams find themselves at the same venue. While HIATUS is working on the rehearsal stage of the MiR, a few rooms away the departments meet for the first conversation with the people from “Freedom Collective”. Heinrich (director) and Magdalena (stage) were still in Bremen yesterday, Darmstadt will follow next week. The idea is that the audience should be able to move freely during the performance. Each stage offers different constraints, each also different possibilities. The idea is that the audience will be able to hear equally well from everywhere – and this will require a lot of effort on the part of the sound departments. In addition, there is the challenge of the smartphone network, which provides additional input to what is happening on stage. The orchestra line-up has been fixed in the meantime. The final determination of the vocal parts is now pending. All the theatres should be able to cast the vocal parts from their own ensembles, if possible; guests will hit the production team’s own budget. Within the team, the staging has to be balanced with the music. Davor (composition) answers from Lyon, where he is spending the first of his two weeks at GRAME (Générateur de ressources et d’activités musicales exploratoires) and is already busy working on the level of electronic feeds.
NOperas! sets itself the task of bringing forms and ways of a new music theatre to the municipal theatre. However, the operations there are still geared solely to classical music theatre narrative forms. The interviews in Wiebke Pöpel’s film documentation of the last NOperas! project beautifully illustrate not only the irritations that this always brings for both sides, the municipal theatre and the actors of the independent scene, but also the necessity for mutual adaptation and learning from each other. How can orchestral musicians and children work together if the orchestra union only allows working hours when children are either at school or in bed for the night? This was the problem faced by “Fundstadt“. No one can be ordered to perform such services. Everything can only succeed through individual persuasion and a willingness to generously navigate past the existing rules.
At the main rehearsal in Bremen yesterday, many of the musicians and children posted around the city found only an astonished and at the same time uncomprehending audience of random passers-by. A mistake had crept into the sequence of photos that were supposed to serve as signposts for the actual test audience on their tablets – more than half were soon wandering disoriented through the city past the stations. In such situations, the theatre adheres to the firm belief that it is not a good omen for the premiere if final rehearsals go too smoothly. They fiddled with the tablets until four in the morning, and today at the dress rehearsal they all found their way. The golden apparition who met me in the pedestrian tunnel pushed me against the wall and then informed me (in a child’s voice): “I know everything, EVERYTHING about you!”. Everything really? Oh God! Little reassuring then was the further information: “You will die a VERY cruel death!” The gold being, Uta Plate then told me, pulling out her correction slip, had not been instructed to address me in such a nightmarish way. I advised her not to intervene. The tunnel sibyl had nothing nice in store for my companion either: “You’ll spill your coffee tomorrow morning!” In any case, misfortune remains relative! For tomorrow, we can only hope for a change in the November temperatures in Bremen.
Fundstadt enters the final spurt. The production team described this project in its application as an “urban topography of two cities from the perspective of children from socially different backgrounds”. Three children each from Gelsenkirchen and Bremen have worked and continue to work intensively on the project. In the meantime, they have all invented their own “thing” equipped with essential features, which according to their specifications is now being built in the workshops. Together with musical patrons from the respective orchestras, they have also composed the “thing song” assigned to their thing, which is now being recorded by instrumentalists from the orchestras in various chamber music formations. Each of the children will have their own station on the path that the audience will have to travel. The six children themselves, their objects and things will be components of the digital events, which will be called up at these stations via tablets. Along the way, you will also encounter live musical theatre actions, for which other children and other orchestra musicians have come together. One of the six film children is Jason. Hiatus wrote the following email to the Gelsenkirchen performers inside of his thing:
“Dear Mariana Hernández González,
dear Istvan Karacsonyi, Gioele Coco, Rainer Nörenberg, Uwe Rebers,
you are the DINGLied ensemble of Jason, we are happy to be able to experience you! Jason’s being is a creature from another planet made of red sand. It has four hands, two human ones, two crab claws, and on its head it once again wears bones to protect it from attacks. It can walk up walls and run upside down on the ceiling, it can make itself big and small, shoot lightning. Its favourite food is stinky socks. In the film, Jason virtually creates his own world. He starts in an empty white room and sets up his workspace in a garage, building his own solar system. One day he comes back to his studio in the garage and finds it transformed. There his being appears to him. Jason does not know whether his world has continued to build itself in his absence and thus the being has come into being, or whether the being has continued to build secretly. In the last music meeting with Jason, we laid the foundation for Jason’s DINGLied with the help of Jason’s fantastic “music godfather” Istvan Karacsonyi. Jason invented music patterns with the nine planets of our solar system. There are also settings by Istvan of the creature’s superpowers (see appendix for an example). The music will build up gradually in analogy to Jason’s film story.”
Duri Collenberg has developed a playing score for Jason’s Dinglied, the various parts of which are appended to the letter – below here: the notes for 1st oboe.
is a bilingual writer living in London who focuses on poetry, essays and opera libretti. He has published two books of poetry in Croatia (“Listing Thing” 2013, “Dropdown Menu” 2015) and has had two operas performed at the Royal Opera House in London, UK (“Colony” 2015, “Greenland” 2015). Aleksandar holds an MA in Opera Writing from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and has been awarded two poetry prizes – the Ulaznica Prize, Serbia 2011, and the Fernando Pessoa Prize, Croatia 2012.
is the founder, principal conductor and artistic director of the No Borders Orchestra, a top young orchestra composed of musicians from the former Yugoslavian states. He studied conducting with Prof. Winfried Müller at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin and participated in interpretation workshops with leading conductors such as Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Premil Petrović is one of the leading musical personalities in his native Serbia. In 1996 he founded the Music Theater at Cinema REX, one of the most important and politically active venues in Belgrade in the 1990s. In addition to the classical orchestral repertoire, he has devoted himself to numerous premieres of contemporary music. He was awarded the Hanns Eisler Prize for composition and interpretation of contemporary music.In 2015, the first CD of the No Borders Orchestra conducted by Premil Petrović was released by Deutsche Grammophon.
is a director, choreographer and actor. Heinrich studied acting direction and choreography at the HfS Ernst Busch Berlin. She has created productions in the independent theatre scene, at various city theaters and in the new music scene. Since 2017 she has worked continuously with Ensemble Decoder. As a choreographer she worked with Sarah Nemtsov, Carola Schaal, Alexander Schubert, Ensemble Garage, Lux NM and the curator and dramaturg Elisa Erkelenz. In addition to directing and choreographing, Heinrich also works continuously as an actor in theater, film and television.
was born in Zagreb in 1983. After studying composition in Graz and Stuttgart, he specialized in electronic music at IRCAM and eventually earned his PhD at Stanford University in the class of Brian Ferneyhough. His compositions have been performed by renowned ensembles. In 2014 he founded the international festival for contemporary music Novalis in Osijek, Croatia, for which he still works as artistic director.
is a composer, performer and improviser. At the University of Vienna he studied composition with Chaya Czernowin, Karlheinz Essl and Clemens Gadenstätter. He is experimentally engaged in the construction of unique new instruments. His work focuses on composition and the practice of performative music theatre. His works are performed by important ensembles and musicians. As a composer and music theatre director, Chernyshkov’s pieces have been performed at the Hamburg State Opera, the Stanislavsky Elektrotheatre in Moscow, the Teatro alle Tese in Venice, at the Musiktheatertage Wien and at the Steirischer Herbst in Graz, among others.
Hauen und Stechen was founded by the music theater directors Franziska Kronfoth and Julia Lwowski. They have been working together artistically and strategically since 2012. Both studied opera directing at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin. In their work with the collective, they strive to create moving, contemporary, cross-border and genre-spanning music theater. The close collaboration with the musicians Roman Lemberg and Louis Bona, the dramaturge Maria Buzhor, the singers Angela Braun and Vera Maria Kremers, the actors Gina-Lisa Maiwald, Thorbjörn Björnsson and Günter Schanzmann, the video artist Martin Mallon, the stage and costume designers Christina Schmitt, Yassu Yabara and Günter Lemke as well as a dense network of opera singers and musicians led to the development of an idiosyncratic, wild, performative and unmistakable theatrical language. The collective works site-specifically, with the aim of bringing out the specificity of the locations through the setting of the performance and at the same time transforming them through the work of the set designers.