Watch the interview of Gala and Michael talking about their process for New People with Marc Wagenbach, : HERE
“The Vase” von Cie. Ofen beim Festival Move! in Krefeld
Von Nicole Strecker
22. Oktober, 2017
– English version below –
Die Frau ist nicht zu halten, nicht zu retten. Medea, die brutalste, unbezwingbarste Heroine der griechischen Mythenwelt, Mutter und Monster, beklagenswertes Opfer und unfassbar rachsüchtige Täterin. 2014 gab die Tänzerin Gala Moody die Medea in Wim Vandekeybus‘ Produktion „Booty Looting“, und man kann gut verstehen, dass diese so urgewaltig-heutige Frau, ihr grenzensprengend-radikaler Liebesbegriff sie nicht losgelassen hat. Ein Jahr später entwickelten Moody und ihr Partner Michael Carter „The Vase“: Ein Stück über ein Paar im ewigen Machtkampf-Modus wie einst Medea und ihr Gatte Jason. Wer manipuliert hier wen? Moody und Carter gelingt es großartig, das emotionale Kräftemessen zwischen Mann und Frau klischeefrei, weil mit heißkaltem Kalkül zu inszenieren. Es bleibt ein Spiel – und ist doch schmerzhafte Schikane.
Auftritt Gala Moody – schon der Name eine Verheißung! – Auftritt also im langen beigen Kleid. Eine blasse Heroine. Das blonde Haar strähnig-ungekämmt, ihre Arme, Beine, auch die Finger und Füße, alle Gliedmaßen so feenhaft lang und dünn. Sie scheint aus einer anderen Zeit zu kommen, doch dann geht sie ganz irdisch an ein Mischpult, das mitten auf der Bühne steht, dämmt das Licht, tippt eine Tondatei auf dem Computer an. Vorbereitungen für ihre Szene, ein selbstgemachtes Setting und ein Statement: Was hier geschieht ist nur eine Theater-Illusion, eine Versuchsanordnung, um den Albtraum „Liebe“ zu verstehen. Hier wird Euripides‘ Medea-Tragödie zitiert und dessen Adaption durch den unbekannteren chilenischen Autor Ariel Dorfman, der durch seine Biografie im Chile von Diktator Augusto Pinochets stets besessen war von den Themen Rache und Vergebung. Man ist in Sartres Hölle, die die anderen für uns sind. Und man ist in Heiner Müllers berühmtem Liebeskampf-Stück „Quartett“, in dem Mann und Frau sich nur um des Spiels wegen zerfleischen und dabei die Geschlechterrollen wechseln. Das geschieht nun auch bei Gala Moody und Michael Carter.
Nachdem Moody zunächst allein immer wieder die ersten Worte des Euripides-Dramas rezitiert hat, tritt Carter auf. Man taxiert sich. Die Körper sind angespannt als erfasse sie beim bloßen Anblick des anderen ein Schmerz-Krampf, als habe Jason Medea schon wegen einer anderen verraten, als habe sie schon die Kinder gemordet. Doch dann springt Moody plötzlich mit einem Lachen zurück an einen viel früheren Punkt ihrer Beziehung. Carter behauptet: „I am her. Ich bin sie.“ Er ist Medea, die Fremde, die Starke. Und während er ihre Vorlieben ausplaudert, zuppelt und grapscht sie an ihm herum, hält ihm den Mund zu, rempelt ihn an, hüpft auf einem Bein, als er ihr versehentlich auf den Fuß tritt. Eine raue Zärtlichkeit, zwei Körper ohne Misstrauen und Scham. Aber war der Schubser jetzt nicht doch ein bisschen grob? Die Arme um den Hals nicht ein bisschen zu fest? Es sind nicht gerade Küsse, die hier Penthesilea-gleich zu tödlichen Bissen werden, doch unmerklich verhärtet sich zwischen Moody und Carter ein Streicheln zu einem Krallen, wird aus einem behutsamen Tändeln der Hände ein kräftemessendes Pressen.
Fantastisch wie genau die beiden an diesem Abend an der Ambivalenz jeder Geste gearbeitet haben. Zwei Star-Tänzer: Sie arbeitete mit den wilden Kerlen der Tanzszene wie Romeo Castellucci, Ivo Dimchev und eben Wim Vandekeybus. Er ist seit 2014 beim Tanztheater Wuppertal und eher mit dem Charisma des sensiblen Melancholikers ausgestattet. Eigentlich ein wunderbares Pendant zur rigorosen Tatfrau Moody, was ihre noch junge Formation „Cie. Ofen“ absolut attraktiv macht. Diesmal aber fegt Medea-Moody ihren sanften Jason in die Ecke, und wenn seine eigentlich sarkastisch gemeinten Übergriffe eher wie behutsame Zähmungsversuche wirken, dann ist das „Unentschieden“ im erotischen Machtkampf doch ziemlich unglaubwürdig.
Trotzdem: Wie die beiden sich so betörend ernsthaft in die körperlichen Befindlichkeiten ihrer Figuren hineingewühlt haben. Wie klug sie die Stereotypen des Sujets reflektieren und auf jeden billigen Effekt verzichten – das ist bestechend. Die Liebe als Krieg, in dem es keinen Sieger geben kann – Gala Moody und Michael Carter erzählen von dieser uralten Desillusionierung aller Romantiker mit der leidenschaftlichen Resignation zweier Psychologen – die doch keine noch so smarte Analyse vor dem Sog der Emotionen schützen kann.
– Von Nicole Strecker
Not To Be Held Back, Not To Be Saved
Gala Moody and Michael Carter succeed with “THE VASE” in Krefeld
By Nicole Strecker
(translated by Veronica Posth)
October 25, 2017
Gala Moody and Michael Carter succeed with “THE VASE” in Krefeld
A woman who is not to be held back, not to be saved. Medea, the most brutal, most uncontainable hero of all the Greek myths, mother and monster, lamentable victim and incomprehensibly vindictive perpetrator. In 2014, dancer Gala Moody played Medea in Wim Vandekeybus‘ production “Booty Looting“, and it is understandable why this character who is a primitive force of nature even in the present-day, who radically destructed the concept of the love story, doesn’t let go.
A year later, Moody and Michael Carter started development on “The Vase“ which is a piece about a couple in the mode of eternal power-struggle, like at one time Medea and her husband Jason. But who manipulates whom? Moody and Carter succeed magnificently in making the emotional power struggle between man and woman cliche free, with steep calculated changes, to stage. It remains a game – and yet it is painful harassment.
The performer Gala Moody – already the name is a promise! – appears in a long beige dress as a pale hero. Her fair hair uncombed and her arms, legs, also fingers, feet, all fairylike, long and thin. She seems to come from another era, but then she mundanely goes to a mixing console, which stands in the middle of the stage; she dims the lights and tips a sound file on the computer. Preparations for her scene, a self-made setting and a statement: – what is happening here is just a theatrical illusion, an experimental arrangement to understand the nightmare “love“ – Here, Euripides’ tragedy Medea is quoted and its adaptation by an unknown Chilean author, Ariel Dorfman who, in his biography written in Chile during the the dictatorship by Augusto Pinochets, was clearly possessed and obsessed by the themes of revenge and forgiveness. In The Vase we find ourselves in Sartre’s hell, which is what others are for us. We are in Heiner Müller’s famous piece about a lovers quarrel „Die Quartet“, in which man and woman are playfully destructing themselves, in the process changing the gender roles. Thats what occurs with Gala Moody and Michael Carter.
After Moody, alone, continuously recites the first words of the Euripides drama, Carter appears. They measure each other up. Their bodies are tense as if the bare look of each other provokes a painful spasm, as if Jason has already betrayed Medea with another, or as if she had already murdered their children. Then Moody suddenly jumps back with a laugh to a much earlier point in their relationship.
Carter then claims “I am her”. He is Medea; the immigrant, the powerful. And while he babbles to his beloved one, she jumps around and grabs him, keeps his mouth closed, jostles him, bounces on one leg as he accidentally steps on her foot. The rough tenderness of two bodies without suspicion nor shame. But are not the shoves now a bit crude and the arms around the neck a bit too tight? These are kisses that become Penthesilea-like deadly bites, the interaction between Moody and Carter becomes imperceptibly harder, from stroking to clawing, from gentle tangle of the hands into forceful constraining.
This evening the two have worked sensationally on the ambivalence of each gesture. Two star dancers. She worked with the wild fellows of the dance scene: Romeo Castellucci, Ivo Dimchev and Wim Vandekeybus. He has been with the Tanztheater Wuppertal since 2014. Having the charisma of a sensitive melancholic, he us intrinsically a wonderful counterpart to the rigorous action women Moody, this makes their still young company “Cie. OFEN“ absolutely attractive.
This time, however, Medea-Moody removes her gentle Jason to the corner, as if his sarcastic, cruel attacks are more like cautious attempts to subdue, the ’suspension of hostility‘ in the erotic power play is somewhat unbelievable.
Nevertheless, it is captivating how the two have so enchantingly and intensively rummaged into the physical sensibilities of their characters and how cleverly they reflected on the stereotypes of the subjects doing it without any chintzy effect, it wins you over. Love as a war in which there can be no winner. Gala Moody and Michael Carter tell of this age-old disillusionment of all romantics with the passionate resignation of two psychologists, even with the most shrewd analysis, one will not be exempt from the pull of emotions. – By Nicole Strecker
Having a Voice
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTISTIC DIRECTORS OF Cie.OFEN GALA MOODY (AUS/BE) AND MICHAEL CARTER(AUS/DE) BY MARC WAGENBACH -28 July 2017
M: Welcome both of you at Ekeby. Maybe you can introduce yourself by telling us a bit about your work.
Mi: I am Michael Carter and a dancer from Sydney. I am co-director of Cie.OFEN and dancer of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.
G: And I am Gala Moody also dancer and co-director of Cie.OFEN, which we’ve had for five years now.
M: And you know each other from Australia?
Mi: Yes, we know each other from 2005. We worked at a company together called Leigh Warren & Dancers in Adelaide. Since then, we both created different works for stage or film and we were both in each others creative lives. We did two and a half pieces together: One Final Evolutionary Note and Evolution/Repetition, and The Vase.
G: So, two full works really.
M: And this is basically the beginning of the research for the third one.
REBELLING FROM COMFORTS
M: How would you describe your artistic process?
G: We are very much rebelling from our own comforts. We don’t believe in having a set vocabulary in our work, that doesn’t sit well with us at all. So in that way we are mainly a research company and we create movement purely from an idea and a conceptual stand point rather then fitting the movement into a concept that is new. For example for: “One Final Evolutionary Note“, we worked with the idea of evolution from Charles Darwin. We researched movement over 4 months: from the positioning in space to the movement decision itself and the timing. It was all directly influenced from the research material.
M: Which kind of research material was it?
G: We had the book: “On the Origin of Species“ by Charles Darwin and…
Mi: … we watched lots of videos on how animals and organisms interact, fight and survive.
G: What are symbiotic relationship with animals?
Mi: ….and how planets move, and evolution in thought “I think therefor I am’.
G: In our second piece, I was going though a very hard break-up, when we started; and I was also studying Medea for a theater play. We were looking for a text to start with and we found a modern version of Medea which we both found interesting. We wanted to work more theatrically with body language. We used a lot of text in the piece also.
Mi: .. and we wrote a lot of stuff and quoted from emails.
M: So text was a very strong reference in this process?
G: Yes. We were very curious about text and the voice, and very scared also. In the piece we quote the theater play that we were looking at; “Purgatorio” by Ariel Dorfman, and Euripides “Medea”, and our own biographical texts. It had these three layers of the narrative which had all the same themes but different time periods.
Mi: We wanted the movement to be true to the idea that “Everything is valid“. We were interested in the randomness of life and we wanted to make movement that was true to that, also feeling it would work well for these volatile characters of Jason and Medea.
G: We also liked the idea that we could play with theatricality. So one minute we were Michael and Gala on stage and then next we were Medea and Jason. Therefore, we could leave the characters and retake them again throughout the piece.
Mi: Physically we had to learn how we were as well. Because as a performer you usually go into performance mode and your body changes for the role, but we had to be ourselves.
G: We found when it came to performing the clue was in each other. As long as we keyed into each other.
Mi: In that moment. In that day. How were we reacting to that movement and the text. Otherwise, it became something that was learnt and rehearsed and distant somehow and actually we weren’t in the moment.
G: It had very much the feeling for us of Performance Art. You are there and paying attention.
NEW PEOPLE. A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY LOW-FI SCI-FI
M: Now to your new production: “New People“. Could you tell us something about the idea?
G: After re-premiering The Vase last month, we had a really great response, and we weren’t expecting that. Somehow it gave us a whole new lease of life for the company..
Mi: …to trust in the work.
G: What we were trying to say got across and that was huge for us.
Mi: That was especially great because we didn’t make it easy for an audience. We wanted to challenge the audience also. For example we wanted to see how long we can wait before we did an action.
G: There was no music hardly. We weren’t following anything we have seen on stage before. It was really a conglomerate of randomness. It was clear that we had to make another piece!
Mi: Somebody said on the last piece that they felt they were seeing something they haven’t seen, that was something, we worked hard to get that. We are not on the worst track we could be. So let’s make a new piece.
M: And why aliens?
Mi: When we are on stage, we are often seen as a man and a woman, people project ideas like lovers, married..
G: Married lovers. Lovers married.
Mi: We also talked a lot about gender: How people perceive you in public if you are dressed more feminine more masculine. It is a kind of a common topic what we like to talk about. So, we thought, we take all this away.
G: Those things don’t aline with our own ideas of gender. In life we are much more gender fluid.
Mi: And so we just thought, we take gender away from the audience straight away and make these two characters aliens that do not have race or gender or skin color. Actually, we will have a skin color but we not quite sure what color. So, the conversation is not about that. To have a look at the “real thing“ we are doing: not a man or a woman.
M: And what is the real thing?
Mi: Identity. Integration. Power-play. Power struggles. Finding your place in life and then learning to adapt.
G: Having a voice.
Mi: Yes, having a voice. Existing. Having some control over your life in terms of your surroundings and the people around you.
G: And therefore, what is it to be human? Can an alien try to be human?
M: Is there also a wish to fit in?
Mi: Anyone that comes from a foreign place to a new place find that the people around them want them to fit in. Everyone loves the “happy foreigner“ who makes an effort and not the angry foreigner who doesn’t want tochange and adapt. We thought, these aliens would be happy and would really make an effort, who really want to be part of this society. But I think in terms of us: do we want to fit in?
G: Well, I think it is quite prominent in our lives, fitting in, putting down roots.
Mi: To be part of a group. To move to a new place. To able to fit in. To get a house. Or to learn a language. The bureaucratic side of it. It is always so complicated. You can do it with humour, or you can do it with bitterness. We would like to see if you could make a funny piece.
G: I think in life there is a need to touch subjects that are difficult with lightness, in our friendship we like to joke and in our work we use humour to get through things that are hard.
Mi: I think, Australian humour is quite sarcastic, it had a dark side.
G: It is also a new medium for us. You don’t get to explore this too much in dance.
END OF INTERVIEW
ABOUT EAR PRODUCTIONS AND EKEBY
How do we want to live today?
ear maintains a network of independent artists and scientists: the Ekeby Associated Artists and Scholars Program. Research undertaken at Ekeby is focused on developing and documenting methods and strategies for the description of work processes in the arts and research. Our research is driven by the experiences of artists, scientists and friends of Ekeby – their beliefs, world views and inspirations. They are Ekeby.
We are Ekeby!
Executive Director Dr Marc Wagenbach
+ 31 613 40 77 68
Cie.OFEN just spent a fruitful week in residency at Ekeby International Research Center for Contemporary Arts in The Netherlands where we plotted out our new creation for 2017/18.
New People (working title) will be a cross-disciplinary sci-fi comedy featuring homeless aliens who come to Earth hoping for a better life. Premiering end of 2018 as a live performance, New People will also involve a year-long dramatic lead up including live and online media events including TV interventions with the main characters.
The development of New People continues the following month in residence at ROSAS in Brussels, Belgium.
Cie.OFEN would like to thank Marc and Jan at Ekeby for a wonderfully refreshing and inspiring time in their beautiful early twentieth century summer house and studio. You will find interviews into Cie.OFENs creative process on the Ear Productions website in the coming weeks.