"In the mountains the throats become free! It is a wonder that we don't burst into song." (Franz Kafka: "Excursion into the mountains").
"I went to the house but did not enter"
A Staged concert in three tableaux.
Already the title of this staged concert, developed with the world famous Hilliard Ensemble, suggests that nothing much will happen during the piece. Therein lies perhaps the secret to the music-theatre-works of Heiner Goebbels: Despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of spectacle, his works have an extraordinary effect on the attention of the spectator. The uniquely intense performances of the Hilliard Ensemble – whose voices are trained in the music of the Middle Ages – are based on a wonderfully restrained presence that is strikingly different from the pomp often characteristic of the singing style found on the operatic stage. This fascination for vocal insistence is the starting point for Heiner Goebbels´ latest composition developed at the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne with the same creative team with whom he has collaborated on most of his recent music-theatre works: Klaus Grünberg (stage design and lighting), Florence von Gerkan (costume) and Willi Bopp (sound).
"I went to the house but did not enter" is a staged concert of three tableaux. Each tableau is a separate entity dedicated to a different 20th century literary text. Although markedly separated these various texts do share one theme: each lends the fragmented and anonymous "I" a multitude of voices and features, that deny the reader the possibility of clearly defined roles and characters. Their language – varied as it is – promises no security. Despite offering a lot of stories, each text demonstrates a mistrust of the linear narrative form, and the often paradoxical meaning of the story only finds its value, when we as listeners complete the act of storytelling. "I went to the house but did not enter" is perhaps a journey on which the un-heroic protagonists – "a pack of nobodies" as Kafka puts it – never embarks. It is a journey in three time frames in no particular place – everywhere and nowhere.
"The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" is one of the young T.S Eliot´s most famous poems. The title hints at the sadly doomed undertaking – such a pernickety and correct use of initials is hardly the stuff of love songs... And while this love song does begin with the best of intentions - "Let us go then, You and I" – it is uncertain whether Prufrock actually ever leaves his room. These contradictions are also the main thread of the other texts of the evening.
"Tell us exactly what happened!" Who says this in Maurice Blanchot´s "The Madness of the Day"? Is it a policeman? Or a patient, a doctor, the nurses, or the law? If it is a confession or an interrogation, then who is guilty? And who threw a glass into whose face? A story? No, never again.
Finally, the vortex of Samuel Beckett´s "Worstword Ho" most radically challenges and questions our language, words and signs; which could indeed go horribly wrong, if it weren´t for Beckett´s "better failure" with his tight-knit poetic language – the utopia of the aesthetic form.
1 August 2008