Images of Tomorrow
An Audiowalk on the former US Hospital
„One of the most extraordinary theater performancees of the past years.“
For two years the interdisciplinary artists of costa compagnie focused on the draw-down of the American Forces from Heidelberg. Among other projects they also presented an audiowalk on the former US military installation. The work is based on interviews which where conducted in the United States with military personel, formerly stationed in Heidelberg. Out of their memories an acoustic based wandering monument is created. It’s traces connect with the past of the military installation as well as its future.
A multiplicity of voices resound on the site, while the visitors can walk the grounds and get an insight into the complex history of the location, its people and their stories. Memories return and sound bites from contemporary history and site specific history become images of tomorrow.
Concept and Realisation
Director of Interviews USA & Collaboration
Interviewing USA & Voice
Lisa Förster*,Volker Muthmann*
Lene Grösch*, Strawrula Panagiotaki
* Members of the Theater and Orchester of Heidelberg
Opening | 13 June 2014 | 18 h
FRI | 13 June 2014 | 19h & 20 h
SAT | 14 June 2014 | 12h & 13h & 14h & 15 h
SUN | 15 June 2014 | 12h & 13h & 14h & 15 h
Re-opening at the festival „Born with the USA“ by the Theater of Heidelberg
03.-05. Oktober 2014 (same location)
Former US-Hospital / Nachrichtenkaserne
Arrive via Freiburger Straße, Heidelberg Rohrbach
By car via Karlsruher Straße or B 3
Streetcar 23 and 24 or by Bus 33 until »Freiburger Straße«
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, April 16, 2014
Listen to the History of Conversion while walking: “Keep a good eye on it!!
Via an audiowalk through on the grounds of the old Health Care Centre the audience listened to American memories.
By Steffen Blatt
This was one of the most extraordinary theatre productions within the last few years. On behalf of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg the “costa compagnie” from Hamburg produced a sort of audio play, which guided the audience through the area of the former Health Care Centre of the United States Army in Rohrbach.
On the 15th of November 2013, the crowd of people was enormous, as the grounds of the old Health Care Centre in Rohrbach opened up its gates to the public for the first time since the draw-down of the US-Army. A guided tour and the presentation of many facts took place on that day. This weekend, the citizens of Heidelberg were now able to experience the area in a completely different way: through an audiowalk, on which the people, who were originally stationed there, were telling their stories.
The “costa compagnie”, an artists’ collective from Hamburg, focuses in cooperation with the Theater and Orchester of Heidelberg on the topic of the conversion, i.e. the re-use of the former U.S. installations in the city. The members spoke with soldiers who were formerly stationed in Heidelberg and with their families, with high-ranking military personnel, scientists, political activists, military chaplains. In order to do so they travelled all the way to the United States. The interviewees talked about their lives during their time in the U.S. military, about encounters with the other culture, about skepticism and convergence. The research results will be incorporated into a large performance that will take place in the gymnasium on the former US-Hospital and will premiere under the title “Conversion_1”. Katharina Kellermann, the audio artist of the “costa compagnie”, also designed an audio tour in which visitors could explore the area this weekend. They were listening to the original documents, music and sounds – a kind of radio play while walking.
The audiowalk starts at the former Checkpoint at the entrance of the site. Everyone gets a map on which the route is drawn, an MP3 player and a pair of headphones. After pressing “Start” one hears a kind of heartbeat. Then the voices of Americans start talking about the church on the right side of the entrance where Catholics, Protestants and Jews held their services. About the gym, where the children had gymnastic classes and where a daughter was picked up from training. About the old office where a father was working. Some still remember everything and others only remember parts. English and German speakers connect the various collage-like statements, while sound effects create a dense atmosphere: a plane taking off, church bells, the siren of an ambulance, a basketball that is bouncing on the gym floor. When it comes to protests of American soldiers against the Vietnam War, the “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die-Rag” by Country Joe McDonald, a cynical commentary of the Woodstock generation, tunes in, which the GIs also listened to in Heidelberg.
And again and again one listens to the heartbeat like pulse which is guiding the listener through the tour. You hear are steps on dirty asphalt and wonder if they are your own. One effect the “costa compagnie” can not have planned on with certainty: The wind that sweeps across the hospital grounds, is passing on the headphones and produces this typical noise that symbolizes the loneliness in Western movies – extremely suitable to the abandoned U.S. Army base.
The statements become more political: One voice tells about the transformation from the American occupiers to the protectors of Germay and the U.S. military in Germany as an outpost against the Soviet Union. “And since 1990, the U.S. military remained here just because it is closer to the Middle East.” Sounds as simple as it can be sometimes.
After nearly 21 minutes, silence occurs in the headphones and the participants are faced with an open grass field and look upon four large loudspeakers that are placed in the high grass of the helipad. Now the question of a possible memorial is asked for, a memorial that could sum up the American presence in Heidelberg. What should it look like, where should it be located on the site? The answers are highly differentiated. A monument should stimulate thoughts, and has to deal with history and different cultures at the same time. “Only this can prevent future devastation!” says one. Another mentions that it would be sufficient to just keep one or two buildings. Finally one interview partner asks for a favor of the Heidelberg citizens: “Take good care of the grounds. For I will come back one day and want to walk over it again.”
Funded through the Doppelpass-Program by the