Berliner PRE-formance | 2004
"Apparently it has to be rehearsed. And if the rehearsal needs a public, then the question arises as to the autonomy of the 'rehearsal' and its status in relation to 'the piece'."
With Berliner PRE-formance, C+H decided to move from the rehearsal studio out into the city of Berlin. The period was considered as a preparation for the further development of Prelude A/ Vorspiel, a piece that attempts to relocate the performance from the stage to the 'off' spaces of the theater lobby and street as well as Bühnenstück, a performance that deals explicitly with transporting daily life situations onto the stage. As a public was needed in order to test their ideas, the natural step was to work in public spaces where there would be an ongoing flow of people.
By transplanting their rehearsal space into public spaces, the trio realized that their rehearsals would inadvertently become a series of performances for the local passers by. Playing with this fact, they set out to create a series of 'pieces', for public spaces. These performances were defined as such due to the sole phenomenon of having a public, the public being none other than the people who happened to use or cross the public spaces during the course of the action. The pieces thus tried to thematize their own existence as performances; that is to say, not only as presentations, realizations and executions in public spaces but as actions which took the given public space as the fundamental problematic.
By choosing to take the streets of Berlin and other public spaces such as the metro and shopping malls as their testing ground, the goal of the research was to enter into and to interfere with actual situations occurring in daily life. In this sense Berliner PRE-formance was considered as a negative test: The goal was to see to what extent the theater dispositive dictated the protocol of looking by working outside of its frame. To what extent is a performative action visible when done outside the theater context? When does it start to disturb the normal daily flow of events? Through a series of performative actions, C+H tried to test the limits of the visibility or invisibility of a gesture in a public space. As with a laboratory test, after each performance one person from the team interviewed the passers by to see if they had noticed anything unusual taking place.
The public was invited to follow the project via a blog, which offered an online program of the daily activities as well a continuously updated documentation of the project's development. Via this blog the public were also able to give feedback, to question, critique or comment on what they had seen. Some of the actions were also announced in advance via e-mail and through the blog in order to create an informed public at the respective locations.
After Berliner PRE-formance, C+H came up with a script for Bühnenstück: a piece for stage that recreates a series of situations taken from daily life many of which were studied during their research in Berlin. The various chapters of Bühnenstück include a welcoming, a bus, a play, a concert, a cinema, a break, a factory and a lecture. During the piece, the spectator is free to decide whether he 'looks onto an image' or 'lives the moment', both ways of participating and/or interacting were possible, without one or the other being imposed.
Another result of this research period was the piece Konspiration, which became a vehicle for working outside of the theater in a public space (the cafe). The performance drew upon the specific insights and conclusions that resulted from Berliner Pre-formance: In this piece an informed public is invited to a location in the city where they are able to see a performance that remains 'invisible' to the otherwise uniformed patrons (as well as the owner) of a pre-selected establishment.
(see Bühnenstück and Konspiration)
Heike Langsdorf, Christophe Meierhans, Christoph Ragg
Anita Kaspar, Florian Böhm, Manuella Zechner, Nils Stelter, Jörg Jozwiak, Claudia Lutz
frogs OS, Kunst/Werk, Echtzeitinstitut