4th Festival 1994

Main programme

Mittwoch 23. Nov. // 19.30 – 20.45 Uhr


Theaterhaus Stuttgart

»Francis Bacon«

Ein Tanztheaterstück von Johann Kresnik und Ismael Ivo


Johann Kresnik


Mara Borba, Tero Saarinen, Ismael Ivo, Johann Kresnik

Raum und Kostüme:

Penelope Wehrli


Paulo Chagas

Libretto und Dramaturgie:

Hansjörg Schertenleib


Ralf Köhler

Technische Leitung:

Eckhard Wiederkehr


Mara Borba, Tero Saarinen, Ismael Ivo

Die Musik wird eingespielt.

Two men are wrestling each other; is it a merciless combat or an act of love? Or perhaps both? And the woman: hermaphrodite caught between Madonna and slaughterhouse-animal images is a paradigm of both Christianity's and modern psychology's ideals. This scenic creation plunges into the imagination's deep canyons, into the imagination of the paintings sired by the English painter Francis Bacon and which sweeps the full extend of the human creature's nature.

Bacon was born in Dublin in 1909. His paintings cannot be found in the walls of compliant homes since they destroy the docile sense of harmony; appear destructive, rebellious, accusatory and introduce protest to the viewer. Bacon was an excessive drinker, a gambler and a connoisseur of life's great pleasures, and he was also an acknowledged outsider, lone wolf, agitator, and visionary. As a painter, he was one of this century's key-figures, he created myth and legend through his crucifixion paintings, through his obsessive revision of Velazquez's Portait of the Pope, through his never-ending arguments with movement, space, time, and coincidence. Bacon died in April 1992.

»The theme is fear, stark-naked fear. Fear of life and of death. The theme is the human being as a human being. His birth: a painful process. His death: a shabby and wretched demise. Life: not a sneak review of hell but hell itself. His ego: naked and bare, without protecting shroud, torn by itself, despairing to the point o puking about its bare existence. His fellow-man: a loved-hated partner in a merciless fight to ransack all emotions, an object of desire as well as loathing. The world: a freezing domicile without hope, without an Utopian dream« (Horst Vollmer, DGB-Kulturblätter, Stuttgart, Februar 1994).

Apart from Pina Bausch in Wuppertal, Johann Kresnik is the most eminent representative of the modern German dance theatre. Born 1939 in Austria, he first went through several stages in his career as classical ballet dancer before he started to choreograph in 1967. Since 1968 he managed Bremen's Dance Theatre for ten years and later was choreographer and producer in Heidelberg, on Bremen's Theatre, as well as a guest performer in Berlin, Salzburg, Vienna, and other cities. At the beginning of the 1994/95 season he was called to Berlin's Volksbühne to work under the directorship of Frank Castorf.

Regardless of their subject matter, Kresnik's productions are always commentaries of contemporary times. Regardless if the theme or the plot are taken from the present, from yesterday, or from yesteryear, regardless if they touch on either the anger arising out of »Wendewut« in 1990, or on the fates of Ulrike Meinhof, Rosa Luxemburg, the painter Frida Kahlo, or they if devote themselves to Shakespeare's King Lear or Macbeth; they are always political productions. Kresnik sees life itself as a political expression. His »Choreographic Theatre« both shocks and fascinates the audience.

»Francis Bacon« stands and falls with the Brazilian dancer Ismael Ivo. Twice his native town Sao Paulo bestowed upon him the award of best solo dancer. Alvin Ailey called him in 1983 to his famous American Dance Theatre in New York City. Ivo lives since 1985 in Berlin. He made numerous world-wide solo guest appearance and in 1993 created his first group choreography »Labyrinthos« at Theaterhaus Stuttgart. Ivo is now for more than ten years the artistic manager of the International Dance Weeks Vienna festival.

Mara Borba also hails from Sao Paulo and received modern ballet training. Tero Saarinen is of Finnish origin and studied classical, Nepalese, and Japanese dance. Both also created choreographies of their own.

»The production is a hit – shaped from one mould so that it becomes difficult to tell the various dominions apart. It is elementary body language, more than just dance theatre, in which the three dancers put in all their physical endeavours, regardless of losses, leave alone any concerns about the accepted standards of aesthetics ... Over and over again were the fine arts in the past the topic of stimulation challenges for their silent images and messages ... However few artists were ever so successful to get under one's skin with their pictures, paintings, and portraits as it was done here with the paintings of Francis Bacon« (Horst Koegler, Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 24.-26.12.1993).

Das Gastspiel erfolgt mit freundlicher Unterstützung durch den Landesverband Sachsen des Deutschen Bühnenvereins.