Between the Song and the Silence: Nesting
One of the things I had struggled with for some time was where this piece should be performed. I had initially imagined it outside, where the urban birds could heckle us at will. My audience would happen by, albeit helped along by word-of-mouth and perhaps even a poster or two.
What I had envisaged has dramatically changed from its conception. Some of these changes regarding setting are purely pragmatic: I will be in Berlin for a limited period of time, and one can’t predict what the weather will be like six to nine months in advance. Changing the date of the performances could be very problematic, given that some or all of my performers might not be available at a different time. Permits are not that flexible in Berlin regarding rain dates: my understanding is that the alternative rain dates also need to be stipulated on the original permit.
I decided that I needed to have an indoor venue, just to ensure that things happen when scheduled. The next conundrum was where to do it? It is important to me that space be given thoughtful consideration, particularly when sound is involved. When I work with sound inside, I deliberately use it to create a sense of place. I like the sound that older buildings have: the resonance of history.
When Sandeep Bhagwati suggested the Tieranatomische Theatre at Humboldt University to me as a potential venue, I immediately felt that it was a perfect choice. Especially as it was built in 1790 as a veterinary dissection theatre. When I first saw photos of it and read its history, I knew that in staging it there, it would take on some of the gravitas that its history and architecture would offer.
When I had the opportunity to do a site visit, I thought that the Tieranatomische Theatre space itself was a perfect setting and scale for Between the Song and the Silence. Recently restored and renovated as an event and exhibition space, it appeared light and airy. Being associated with Humboldt University allows for the possibility of including other types of programming in conjunction with performances, and is very strongly a preference of mine, as I feel that it allows for more opportunities for public engagement.
The project has been proposed, and has been favorably received so far, so fingers crossed!
Felix Martens, who kindly toured me through the building, happens to be the son of Dr. Jochen Martens, a well-known and respected ornithologist whose work I have referenced in my research. Felix also told me about the bird walks which take place every spring on the campus! I’m a big believer in confluences of events, and hope this bodes well for presenting Between the Song and the Silence there.
... where the urban birds could heckle us at will.