Music theatre as an art installation
”YOU MOCK THE BLIND MAN AND YOU STAND IN THE LIGHT, BUT YOUR OWN BLINDNESS, YOU DO NOT SEE.“
(Tiresias, after Sophocles)
ØDIPUS REC. is a newly composed, immersive musical theatre in which the myth of Oedipus is told through the eyes of the character Oedipus after his self-blinding. The word ‘blind’ makes us think at first of a physical obstacle, but at the same time refers to the presence of ignorance, blindness, ignorance, powerlessness or unconsciousness. While our world is increasingly determined by a mass of media images, this production explores the power of the visible and the obvious by confronting the audience with the audible, the ‚unheard’, the outrageous. The quote from Tiresias serves as a leitmotif for the staging: It takes up the ability of seeing and hearing, the interrelation between empathy and narcissism, between visibility and invisibility within the context of the myth Oedipus.
An actor and two singers, together with two foley-artists and a small ensemble, reconstruct the two protagonists Oedipus and Tiresias in search of the question “Who and what am I? Who and what are you?” Oedipus: the star of the city of Thebes, unlimited ruler, puzzle-solver, all-rounder, benefactor, liberator, great stranger, but also arrogant examining judge, clueless patricide, mothers rapist. And his antagonist Theresa: in his story he was both man and woman, priest of Zeus, wife and priestess of Hera, mother of four children, infallible seer, blinded by Hera, because he betrayed the mystery of women to men.
The audience enters an extremely brightly lit room. Around an empty arena there are three instrumentalists, two foley-artists and three singers. Various objects used by the sound artists, instruments, props, microphones, amplifiers form complex installations of forms and various materials. The three players are barely visible in the set of objects.
At the beginning of piece ØDIPUS REC. the audience watches the creation of sound, noise and music. However, the sounds are hardly audible. The singers only move their lips, they sing without a voice. There is no electroacoustic amplification. A joint cry of the actor (Oedipus) and the singer (Tiresias) cuts through the long silence at the beginning of the play. Both begin to present their stories to the audience in fragments. The precise choreography of light, musical and physical gestures, voices, instruments and various sound props create visual references to the narratives of the two protagonists. In the course of the staging, the choreography gives way to visible gestures and composition. A’landscape’ of sounds, noises and voices is gradually amplified electronically, transforming the performance into an immersive sound cosmos with cinematic quality.
The gain of knowledge about the fate of Oedipus is exchanged with the loss of visual certainty. The power of the voice, as a bridge between head and body, between speaking and acting, increasingly replaces the logic of speaking. The invisible becomes audible, the gestural and visual elements increasingly disappear in the darkness. In the end, the voices reverberate in the room. Silence. Can we now see our own blindness?
Artistic direction Till Wyler von Ballmoos, Tassilo Tesche, Ole Hübner | Production management Maxine Devaud