Gedanken über weite Entfernungen. Eine Kontaktaufnahme
[One's Mind at Great Distances. Getting in touch]

A piece by Anne Hirth/büro für zeit+raum & Christian Kesten


When the audience comes in, the performers are already there. They sit and look at the audience. They don't play it, they just do it. Even when the audience is sitting, they do that. They are themselves spectators, observers, listeners. Composition 2013 #6*. Nothing happens but audience and performer looking at each other. Maybe the audience is waiting for something, but the performers are waiting for nothing. They listen to the silence, the current sounds in the room. We are there. And so are you. After about five minutes, the first sentence occurs.

Play /// The performers make statements about themselves. They might be true or not.
The performers may ask questions (to find out if a statement is true or not).
Avoid to answer the questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’—rather answer with a new statement. Frame each statement or question with silence. Statements and questions occur in no particular order, therefore questions may relate to statements from long before, and vice versa. /// 3 to 5 performers. /// At least one hour. /// (Try other versions.) ///
Process. Version of ‘Play’ /// 1 Only statements. /// 2 Statements and questions. /// 3 Only questions.

/// christian kesten 2013

Process. Version of 'Play' forms the basis of the first half hour of Gedanken über weite Entfernungen. The statements are fresh and improvised each evening. Composed is the structure in which they appear.
The three phases are organized in time brackets, with indications of frequency, degrees of density, durations of pauses between the sentences. As they progress, noise plateaus, 3" to 9" long, from trumpet and voices (audible breath) of the same performers are added as an additional layer. An increasing density emerges very slowly, reinforced by the interweaving with the following part, from which elements emerge selectively and into which the performers successively transition. There are five simultaneous solos, each consisting of different gestural and vocal material, partly already conceived within a solo as a polyphonic or contrapuntal interplay of gestures and voice. The dynamic spectrum ranges from silent gestures to whispered, spoken language-like articulation, loud sung single tones, multiphonics produced inhalingly, to shouted text running backwards ("sagst du was denk (...) [say you what think (...)]"). A field emerges in the space, a field of five individuals, placing their interpenetrating sounds and actions in the silence.

Later in the piece, in another simultaneous field, two of the performers play glissando miniatures on three instruments - violin, trumpet, synthesizer - each between 20" and 50" long. These miniatures are graphically notated as lines. Meanwhile, other performers interpret these or similar lines as movement, as paths in space: lying on their backs, their walking feet push their bodies across the floor, creating a subtle noise. These layers, however, are not related to each other one to one, they are set independently overlapping each other in this time period, in which other actions happen as well.

Gedanken über weite Entfernungen. Eine Kontaktaufnahme is understood as composed theater, in which sounds, language, physical actions are considered equal material. The starting point is listening. Silence grounds the whole. The composition is based on concepts and structures, which are filled in and shaped by the performers. The piece was developed in modules, which were put into a sequence. Modules can also simultaneously interpenetrate each other.

The piece was the last premiere at the tradition-steeped Wuppertal Schauspielhaus, for which Pina Bausch once developed her plays. It was completely closed and its uncertain future is one of the great cultural tragedies in the poor West of Germany.

Christian Kesten "Gedanken über weite Entfernungen", in: positionen 100. Texte zur aktuellen Musik, August 2014.

Gedanken über weite Entfernungen. Eine Kontaktaufnahme [One's Mind at Great Distances. Getting in touch]
A piece by Anne Hirth/büro für zeit + raum and Christian Kesten. Premiere June 2013, Schauspielhaus Wuppertal; Tour February 2014 at Pumpenhaus Münster and Uferstudios Berlin. By and with Ivan Fatjo Chaves, Ariel Garcia, Gregor Henze, Gregory Stauffer, Irena Tomazin. Stage/Costumes: Alexandra Süßmilch. Light: Arnaud Poumarat. Dramaturgy: Johannes Blum, Oliver Held.

*La Monte Young: Composition 1960 #6, „The performers (…) sit on the stage watching and listening to the audience in the same way the audience usually looks and listens to performers. (…)“