I EAT YOUR SHADOW
10 images counted on 10 fingers
Experimental dance meets experimental music.
What they have in common is a poetic language
that gives rise to sound and pictorial spaces.
In a chamber play, close to the audience,
10 images that appear archaic and ritualistic
combine to tell a tale
of the eternal cycle.
Start: beginning of 2019
CONTENT AND RELEVANCE
In I Eat Your Shadow, Micha Stuhlmann uses her body to enter into a reality, in a way that is enigmatic, nearly inconceivable and at times almost unbearable and in it, reveals herself in her fragility, her unpredictability, her fleetingness. These aspects are in stark contrast to the currently fashionable self-optimisation in the age of body culture.
Ritualistic in its appearance, the atmosphere of the production refers to the origins of being human and to man’s magical way of thinking and experiencing. The production approaches boundaries in two ways: it touches on the certainty of our mortality and on our secret desire to be rescued from it or to at least obtain answers to the first and the last questions of being human.
From this perspective, the work also touches on the current discussion around “homo deus” – fundamental anthropological and philosophical questions. What makes man ultimately human? And it continues to ask about utopias in the age of digitalisation.
The protagonist steps in front of the audience as a vulnerable creature and disturbs the spectator’s realities with her physicality and headstrong way of expressing herself. Playing with vacillating emotions, she exposes herself to disparaging looks, seems to put herself into the position of a victim, just to change perspective the very next moment, turning into a perpetrator.
CHAOS_TWILIGHT_ARRIVAL_BODY_HUNGER_ASH_ENCHANTMENT_ABLUTIONS_BLOSSOMING AND FADING_TWILIGHTII
In the beginning, there is chaos in its godly structure – impenetrable, perfect, eternal, one. Man, emerging from the dark, the vague, the undefined, is born into the twilight. Touching the space he inhabits, he becomes aware of himself. He fumbles over his body, until he grasps it.
The body gives man his outer shape and, at the same time, his power for action. It makes him a perpetrator and a victim.
The body and man within it need nutrition to be able to act and create. Man seeks what is nourishing, thereby discovering hunger. Procuring food becomes a challenging struggle, during which man experiences his mortality and his will to live. He discovers his primal fear and, thus, the meaning of his existence.
Ash presents itself to him as the remains of organic life. In it, the beginning and the end come together. He takes the ash, assimilates it, smears it over his skin and, for a few moments, makes himself invulnerable.
Perfect in his presence, in his being, in his time, he is one and absolute – for a few moments. These moments are fleeting, as perfection and flawlessness are not granted to man. He washes. He has to absolve himself of knowledge and become human again. The water binds the ash, becomes dirty, cloudy and puts an end to lucidity. The experience of being godly passes in its fleetingness, leaving behind man and his body, naked and vulnerable. In the shape given to him, man takes his life in his hands. He discovers pleasure; he blossoms, kindles and expires. He’s born into the twilight, absorbed into the womb of the night and dives back into the comfort of chaos.
I Eat Your Shadow retells myths, staying within the vague, the allusive. The mixture of Christian and ethnic symbolism is based on a kind of popular belief. The myths mirror mankind’s desperate search for definite answers.
I Eat Your Shadow asserts a truth – that of “eternal recurrence” (Friedrich Nietzsche) and of “eternally timeless presence” (Thomas Mann).
Through narrative, verse, rhyme and dance, man creates his very own reality, a reality which he enters and from which he disappears again – alone.
Within the energy field of imagination, man, a social creature, builds himself a myth made up of various realities – a myth that is innately his own.
“It is in the myth that the essence of life finds its expression. Thus, myths are not historical records or scientific insights. They exist outside of time – both our modern and primeval times.
In the ritual, they transcend into the body. What cannot be expressed physically is not a ritual. In the ritual, the word is converted into action.” (Heini Ringger)
“… and all those who walk along (the paths) are driven by the same longing: the longing to dive deep down to the bottom of the well of existence, to re-connect with the holy origins and, thus, to heal the wound from which Creation flows.” (Leo Maria Giani)
And the myth continues to soothe and comfort the troubled explorers of existence.
PROCESS AND DEVELOPMENT
Based on her own imagination, her night dreams and her examination of ritual archetypes, Micha Stuhlmann develops the basic concept, the lyrics, sketches, objects, raw movement patterns and actions. Ash and water as creative elements fall into place.
All these elements are fed into the process when Micha Stuhlmann meets Beat Keller with his feedbacker guitar. In some sort of alchemistic process, they come together, both with their very own artistic signature. She enters and places herself in his sound and noise spaces; he, in turn, draws his sound trail through her images. Noises, nuanced sounds, fragments of melodies and also clearly recognisable styles of music alter and extend the story told in images, turning it into a mythical tale. Micha Stuhlmann’s boisterous actions effortlessly blend in with the music.
Now begins the phase of experimenting with the creative elements that the two artists provide each other with. Both of them create spaces which are clearly confined and yet open to numerous associations. They pass each other their images and surrender to the explorative experiment over and over again. Each artist’s sign language needs to be decoded before they can find a new, common language. With each experiment, with each encounter, the dynamics of the movement patterns change. Text fragments turn into songs (“In the Beginning”, “Hunger Songs”, “Shadow Food”, “Dance and Death” etc.). Little by little, a kind of score in 10 pictures emerges.
René Schmalz follows the process with his experienced eye. Together, the three of them develop an unrelenting, meaningful chamber play.
Hunger Song II
… better still
The skinned angel speaks
vaguely as yesterday.
Let us build a ship today;
Tomorrow, we’ll sail to the moon.
It’s hay harvest.
The hunger hole takes hold
at six o’clock in the morning…
…lie down with me
between my skins, between the tendons and bones.
Come closer, closer still,
softer still, so that I can feel you;
lick my lips, those brittle lips,
free them from hunger and thirst and
the fear of grazing and swallowing…
Dance and Death
… When all shines through
and all stale
When all dull comfortable
And all smart
When all balmy blithe barren
And all sated
When all falls together
And all shallow
When all fits perfectly
And all in all
And all in none
A chamber play in the form of a ritual ceremony, I Eat Your Shadow is based on primal theatre.
Without an explicitly defined focus, the circular setting of the performance allows for close contact with the audience, almost eyeball to eyeball; a closeness also contributed to by the minimal technical equipment. (Depending on the space, this setting may have to be adjusted.)
The audience’s body affects the body of the performance, as it is invited to take part in the events and to directly experience the forces that unfold between the performer and the observer.
A chamber play with an almost private character and performed with a relatively small audience, each individual performance is unique.
The production alternates between ritual, performance (dance/musical theatre) and action (everyday activities). The stage technology only consists of three spotlights and a dance carpet, which allows the performances to take place in theatre and art spaces as well as on public squares.
The props are to be seen as artistically inflated objects. They are touched during the performance, contribute to the design of the space and form a trail that is, at the same time, temporal and creative. As well as ash, water and body extensions, the props include microphone and costume.
At the end of the performance, performers and audience engage in a kind of tracking: the audience is invited to explore the space in which the action takes place, to read the remnants of the performance like tea-leaf readers, to discover subjective truths and perhaps to prophesy.
Duration: at least one hour