Heart of Darkness
after Joseph Conrad
„Felix Meyer-Christian constructs – with mental sharpness and artistically defying logical definition – an artistic rapid in the consumer-friendly and sluggishly streaming mainstream of contemporary theatre.“
Hamburger Abendblatt, 12.09.2012 (see below)
Two performer, a dancer and a musician follow the path of the narrator Marlow into the jungle and confront themselves and the audience with the maelstrom of Conrad’s language.
In his intense examination of colonialism of the 19th Century, Conrad described the fear of the other and the birth of a new idea. “Annihilate all the beasts.” Marlow, captain of a Belgian trading company, embarks on an endless journey on the river Congo to confront the ivory trader Kurtz at the end. The deeper he advances into the Heart of Darkness, the more permeable the boundaries between dream and reality, fascination and horror, the unknown and the Self become – Apocalypse Now!
Hannah Arendt rated the novel as a crucial historical document that makes past and future legible beyond its own, real historical content and which lets the shaded complex of economical power, oppression, racism and genocide be accessible for today’s readers. A story that is also reflected in today’s character of the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as well as in numerous international trade relations, and which conveys a primeval scene of the 20th Century.
Lichthof-Theater Hamburg, September 2012
Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, Studio, Februar 2013
Hamburger Abendblatt, 12th of September 2012
Of the Fear of the Unknown and the Wilderness
“Heart of Darkness” at the Lichthof Theatre is a skillfully staged trip into horror
by Klaus Witzeling
HAMBURG. A white plastic tarp covers the audience’s seating area like a reef. The spectators stand around helplessly in front of the obstacle. They feel alienated, uncomfortable without seating in such exposure. Similar disorientation Captain Marlow probably must have felt when he arrived in the Congo in Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness”.
On the lead of this river travel, Felix Meyer-Christian, in his multimedia performance after Conrad’s novel, increases the dose of irritation: with narrated horror scenes, grotesque dances and the final mortal ritual of ghostly lemurs. In this dramatic essay on the fear of the unknown and the overbearing rule of the colonial masters over the “savages”, Meyer-Christian shows, how white, “civilized” people step by step turn into the despised, mutated and annihilated “monsters” they so much fear.
A dozen steel plates sets the spatial limits of the performance space, put up in an installation by Eylien König. It reflects upon the impenetrable wall of the jungle, and also serves as a projection screen for Signe Koefoed atmospheric video installation. The frightening intense dancer and choreographer – inspired by African dance and the physical limit-reaching excess of Japanese Butoh dance – embodies the self and the unknown, in the confrontation with the Conrad-prose speaking actors Lisa Flachmeyer and Felix Meyer-Christian.
Although the director, who stepped in for the ill fallen actor Paul Walther, only read the text, he still decided to also perform along the other artists, so that the trip into horror could unhindered develop its maelstrom. Meyer-Christian drew a bow in this dramatic collage from the murderous doings of the white ivory traders in the past to the unscrupulous arms dealers in current conflict areas.
In the at times agonizing ritual of “exorcism of evil” Felix Meyer-Christian does not make it easy, neither for himself nor for the audience. But in this performance without concessions he takes up a repressed, hot topic, similar to his other historical-critical researches. And he constructs – with mental sharpness and artistically defying logical definition – an artistic rapid in the consumer-friendly and sluggishly streaming mainstream of contemporary theatre.
Lisa Flachmeyer, Katharina Kellermann, Signe Koefoed, Paul Walther
Director & Text
Choreography & Dance
Katharina Kellermann (live), Matthias Reiling
A production by LICHTHOF Productions and costa compagnie.
Funded by the Hamburg Cultural Foundation, the Mara and Holger Cassens Foundation, the Ilse and Horst Rusch Foundation and the Lichthof Foundation.