“What if actors stood aside and let props steal the show?” The Guardian
“The audience is at the center of this piece — they make sense of what they see and what they hear, in a liberated and individualized way.” Heiner Goebbels
Stifters Dinge (“Stifter’s things”) is a play with no actors, a composition for five pianos with no pianists, a performance without performers — a no-man show. Light, pictures, murmurs, sounds, voices, wind and mist, water and ice — these devices usually act as mere props or set pieces, but in Stifters Dinge they become protagonists.
Writing in early 19th-century Bohemia, Adalbert Stifter focused his attention on non-human forces, natural phenomena and “things” we don’t really know how to name and explain. In a large-scale performative installation, world-renowned composer and theater artist Heiner Goebbels decelerates our sense of time to bring “Stifter’s things” to the forefront of our awareness. Evocative recordings by William S. Burroughs, Malcolm X, and Claude Levi-Strauss whisper throughout Goebbels’s soundscape, emphasizing the political implications of this newfound meditative space.
Limited tickets are now on sale for Friday, September 7 at 6:30pm for the Pre-Show VIP reception and Stifters Dinge performance at 8pm.
VIP Reception + Performance (Sept 7)
$49 general / $34.40 member
Performance Only (Sept 7-9)
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
Conception, music & direction Heiner Goebbels Set design, light & video Klaus Grünberg Musical collaboration/programming & musical supervision Hubert Machnik Sound design Willi Bopp Artistic collaboration & musical supervision Matthias Mohr Stage Manager Nicolas Pilet Light technician Roby Carruba, Mattias Bovard Video Jérôme Vernez Stéphane Janvier, René Liebert Robotics Thierry Kaltenrieder Sound Ludovic Guglielmazzi Assistant stage manager Jean-Daniel Buri, Fabio Gaggetta Tour Manager Sylvain Didry Produced by Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne.
Photos by Mario del Curto
Produced by Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne. Coproduced by spielzeit’europa, Berliner Festspiele, Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, schauspielfrankfurt, T&M-Théâtre de Gennevilliers/CDN, Pour-cent culturel Migros and Teatro Stabile di Torino. Corealised by Artangel London. With the support of Pro Helvetia – Fondation suisse pour la culture.
Stifters Dinge has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Festival Co-Producers: Lynne & Bertram Strieb
About Heiner Goebbels
Multi-instrumentalist Heiner Goebbels was studying sociology when he discovered the political importance of music through the work of Hanns Eisler. After this discovery, he began his career as a composer and director. His compositions have been performed by orchestras around the world. In 1993, he presented his first theater production, Ou bien le débarquement désastreux (“Or the Hapless Landing”), which was followed in 1994 by Surrogate Cities (Grammy nominated), Black on White (1996) and Eislermaterial (1998) with Ensemble Modern, Hashirigaki (based on texts by Gertrude Stein, 2002), Eraritjaritjaka (2004), I went the House but did not enter (2008) and Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury (NYC, 2015). From 2012 to 2014, he was the artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale Festival, a prestigious annual music and arts festival in northwestern Germany. In 2018 he received the first appointment for the recently established Georg-Büchner-Professorship at the University Gießen.
Heiner Goebbels presents theater where different languages coexist without hierarchy, extending and interacting with each other. The stage becomes a space of observation open to the surprising and the unexpected, where attention to detail creates a renewed curiosity for the complexity of human existence.
Interview with Heiner Goebbels
FringeArts: What inspired this piece?
Heiner Goebbels: I was talking with set and light designer Klaus Gruenberg — with whom I’ve worked nearly exclusively for the last 20 years — and we asked ourselves is it possible to create a theater piece without any people? That was the experimental question for our artistic research. That was the beginning. Everything else happened in the process.
FringeArts: Could you tell me a little about Adalbert Stifter?
Heiner Goebbels: He was a landscape painter and author in the first half of the 19th century in Bohemia. The disturbing and surprising moments in his writings come in his attentiveness and sensibility toward non-human forces, natural phenomena, and things we don’t really know how to name and explain. That is what he calls dinge, “things.” You find that word on nearly every page of his writings.
FringeArts: How did his work influence this piece?
Heiner Goebbels: I think rather that I discovered his perspective in my own work. We started to stare at the water, the fog, the rain, and it reminded me of a longer section in one of his novels, in which he completely stops the narration of the plot to describe the forms of raindrops on the window during a thunderstorm.
FringeArts: What should the audience know going in to fully open themselves to the piece?
Heiner Goebbels: They don’t need to know anything in advance, even children can just come and see it. The only precondition is openness and curiosity. In fact it is not even correct to describe Stifters Dinge as a piece without anybody, because the audience is at the center of this piece — they make sense of what they see and what they hear, in a liberated and individualized way.
Excerpt. Full interview coming soon to the FringeArts Blog.