Eraritjaritjaka: a new production by Heiner Goebbels at the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

One world view transformed into - percussive and poetic - music
Black on black, an empty space: the stage. Four musicians dressed in black: a string quartet. They play the slow overture of the quartet op 110 by Dmitri Chostakovitch, in which the first violin starts to draw out an elegiac, nostalgic melodic line. It is with this music - and nothing other than the music - that Heiner Goebbel's new production opens. Goebbels started by studying sociology before taking up music and, after a 'Sponti' period with the Socalled Leftradical Wind Orchestra, decided to present his own theatrical/musical/literary projects throughout the world, in particular Hashirigaki and Landscape with distant relations.

Longing for something lost
Amplified by loud speakers, somewhat chaotic, the music seems to come from afar. And when the four musicians attack it with energetic bows, its echo resounds for a while afterwards. Longing for something that is lost, Heiner Goebbels' new production is entitled "Eriaritjaritjaka" - a beautiful word borrowed from the Aranda language, that of Australian aborigines, and which means precisely "possessed by longing for something lost". Goebbels found it in Elias Canetti's works. With texts taken from Canetti's autobiographical writings, Goebbels has built a 'museum of phrases'. The world premiere took place this Tuesday in the Thèâtre Vidy-Lausanne and this summer it will go on tour.
Eraritjaritjaka is the third part of a trilogy created by Heiner Goebbels with the French actor, André Wilms. The two first parts were also based on notes and notebooks: in Or the disastrous disembarkment (1993) he turned his gaze to distant colonies: in Max Black (1998), based on texts by Valéry, Lichtenberg, Wittgenstein and Max Black, the human individual faces himself; with Eraritjaritjaka, finally, Goebbels and Wilms take us, with Canetti, to 'man's territory' (the title given by Canetti to one of his anthologies): reflexions on man and his relationship to others, on his habits, on fashions, on music, language and many other themes.

Authenticity and life
The musicians retire to the back of the stage, freeing space for a white square, a 'carpet' for André Wilms. Sometimes the narrator appears paralysed on this rigid surface, sometimes he strides across the stage (stagecraft and the impressive lighting are by Klaus Grünberg); he directs the musicians and is directed by them, alternately violent or tender; and at all times, down to the tiniest gesture, his acting breathes authenticity and life.
The Mondriaan Quartet from Amsterdam interpret Chostakovitch with verve and intensity, but also Scelsi, Ravel, Bach and others, including Goebbels himself. The music penetrates the percussive phrases of Canetti (subtitled in German) and a sort of musical view of the world, sometimes in pitiless lightning flashes, sometimes poetic and playful. There is a brilliant transition from real action on the stage to a filmed expedition into the urban existence of the writer (live videao Bruno Deville). But in this 'longing for something lost' nothing is sentimental or nostalgic, it all remains contemporary and focused on the present - like Chostakovitch's music, which opens the production, and whose melancholy accents envelope today's discords as never before.
(Andras Klaeui)

Andras Klaeui
Basler Zeitung (CH), 22 April 2004