(as the swiss part of my family would say)
One week in rehearsing and another one to go, I’m writing to you from the front line of battle. I love it here! The weather is nice – finally cooling down after the great heat wave that quick-froze our brains in Vienna this summer -, having lunch at the Museumsquarter where we rehearse is relaxing and – most importantly – the bits and pieces of my first theatre production are starting to assemble just in the way I hoped they would.
When I started my cultural management internship at paraflows festival for digital arts and cultures earlier this year, I was asked to write, direct and produce a play based on an long-cherished concept of Günther Friesinger and Frank A. Schneider. I immediatly accepted the proposal and wraped my head around the historical figure Coloman, a sanctified pilgrim from Ireland (or Scotland – there seems to be some uncertainity on that subject.).
With respect to contemporary all-European debates on migration, asylum seeking and ways to react on the Other in general, I was to tell Colomans story: On his way back from a pilgrimage in 1012, the son of an irish (or scotish) king was lynched in the small Lower Austrian village of Stockerau for being accused of spying for the Hungarian monarchy. Speaking a foreign language and wearing foreign cloths seemed enough evidence to hang him. When two years later his body had not decayed but on the contrary caused mysterious wonders, the people of Stockerau had him sanctified. Consequently, ever since 1014 Coloman is being integrated into Austrian culture as a patron saint to Lower Austria, Stockerau and every person on the move from one place to another.
First of all I gave the play a title and a fitting subtitle:
KOLOMAN. The stranger whom we murdered but after all protects us now.
I’m sorry for the quick jump, but: I simply love my cast! We’re enjoying every bit of the rehearsing time, joke around the characters as well as the plot, find ourselves in serious discussions on the concept’s subject matters and let our creative workflows flow.
The paraflows festival’s focal point 2015 is „digital migration“ so I
- integrated multiple media into the performance
- a pre-produced video created by the lovely boys of The Raven Films
- a live performed song, produced especially for the show
- created a drama text that dealt with multiple layers of the migration-topic
The following picture shows the final still from the video: the a moment ago killed Koloman.
For me, the main aspects of my interpretation of the Coloman-story were:
- Where does the hate come from that ends up causing people to kill strangers?
- How do we talk about asylum seekers, migrants and people we perceive as different from us?
- From a cultural critical point of view, in what ways can the cultural appropriation of sanctifying a dead person be perceived?
September 14th is the day I officially have to stop working – it’s the premiere day. We’ll play in six well chosen Viennese restaurants. Since it’s a parlor play, the actors are not placed on a stage but rather at and between tables right next to the people they play for. After five years of acting and (in 2015) also directing a parlor play by the amazingly clever and whitty Roland Gratzer and Sebastian Wilhelm at the Komm.st-Festival in Styria, it’s still a thrill to not having a „forth wall“ seperating the stage from it’s audience. I love to work like this because you’re as close to your audience as you can ever be. For some of my actors performing like this is a big first, so we’re all very looking forward to seeing how it all works out.
I hope your find the time to come and see our work! Be sure to buy your ticket (EURO 10/ reduced 5; link below) and join the event on facebook!
In case you want to respond to this post, feel free to drop a line or two. Since this is all rather new to me, I’m curious to know what you think.
On here I’ll let you know how everything went once those first six shows are done!