doris uhlich ~ concept & stage direction
dramaturgy ~ andrea salzmann
production director ~ johanna kienzl
performers: peter fenz, christa himmel-schwarzmuller, pauline haslinger,frederich nedoma-ohnhauser, susanna peterka, otto schodl, ilse urbanek, werner vockenhuber, pia voldet
bac burst festival
engage with the beauty, fragility and strength of old age in this unusual piece of dance. two years ago doris uhlichasked older people on the streets of vienna whether they were interested in working with her. this culminated in a show choreographed through the performers' own gestures and movements. a celebration of older generation that is not often seen on the stage.
two years ago, doris uhlich was roaming vienna searching for older people who would work with her. she met them at the volksgarten (a public park in vienna), on the tram or the tube, in coffee houses or at a senior's fair.
by talking with each individual person, doris uhlich focused on their body and concentrated on their language. the next step was to study the person standing up, sitting upright or lying down. based on these rudimentary movements, sets of body and motion materials were developed for each person, each set with a specific scope.
by zooming into the fragility and the robustness of the body and personal gestures, a field of analysis is opened at the intersection of the everyday-body/everyday-scenarios on the one hand and artistic body/body scenarios on the other.
"today i am everything. i am the twenty-six-year-old, i am the sixty-year-old, i am the eighty-year-old. everything is summed up in the 'here and now'. (frederich nedoma-ohnhauser, eighty-six years old)
an empty space with a line of people sitting in chairs to the left-hand side.
a man gets up and walks around the periphery of the space, hands in pockets, hands behind, hands at side. although the walk in a circle is like a the pace around a prison yard or a cage, it is impossible to read anything about this man and his current attitude, emotions, state. some time later he will skip with a total energy and lightness that will suggest a childlike playfulness and glee.
a woman gets a pen from out of her handbag, looks at what is happening the man walking and us in the audience, and starts to write on a clipboard of paper. she will do this throughout most of the performance until later she will read what she has written. this will turn out to be a=n account of everything she has observed.
"the audience is silent. it is a tense silence. susanna slowly takes her clothes off puts them on the back of the chair. she sits then lies on the floor..."
a chair is placed upstage right.
a woman, smartly dressed in shiny heels, comes and sits on it. she will tell us of her different visits to london, her impressions of our city, the differences between life in london and life in austria. she will remove all her clothes while she tells us this and sit and lie in different positions on the floor and chair. she will do the with an everyday-ness that will disallow any sense of this being novel or unusual in any way.
an ancient fragile little man comes into the centre of the space. slowly he unfolds down an unbelievable way and then slowly folds back up again. later he will come and grin happily at us all with mischievous knowing. and then he will put on tap shoes and tap for us.
a slender woman in slacks comes into the space and performs a series of ballet moves. she is obviously old and not in prime form but she dances the moves nevertheless.
a man in trousers and jacket looking smart comes into the space and looks. at the ballet dancer. at us. at susanna lying naked on the floor. it is impossible to read anything specific from him.
another man comes into the space and looks at us. he then moves to the back and sprints with incredible speed the distance of the back wall. he will repeat this at different times. later he and the smartly dressed man will disco together looking happy.
another woman eventually comes in an paces and mutters. she seems less happy than others and the snatches we catch of what she says seem to be about wanting to be on her own.
eventually all the people will be moving their moves at the same time in a complicated set of patterns that never quite connect or intersect. in a moment of stillness in this another woman will come into the space, lie down on her side, and slowly slowly curl up into the shape of a foetus, then uncurling then get up and go back to her seat.
and sometimes we laughed - sharing the joke with these performers: this was not how any of them should be behaving or who they were supposed to be.
nice piece of work.