Karma Accelerator

Format: Performance
12 Mar 2017
3AM — Spring Sprouts, Flutgraben e.V.; Freies Werkstatt Theater, Cologne
3 hrs
Journal article: Online PDF

Direction, text, performance, design: Chris Gylee, Aslan
Alexander Carrillo, Alessandro Marzotto Levy, Elena Polzer
Robin Junicke, Roger Rossell, Fanni Udvarnoki

Supported by: Unterstützt durch das NATIONALE PERFORMANCE NETZ Gastspielförderung Tanz, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien sowie den Kultur- und Kunstministerien der Länder (Performance at Freies Werkstatt Theater, 2019)

Each morning, we walk the streets of the city, seeking out blockages, night terrors and pain, like faith-fixated preachers turned inside out. We listen to the people of the city, collecting their frustrations. We offer dry-cleaning for the soul, laundering a cargo of crises. We return, each afternoon, to a chalk circle occupying the stage floor. The theatre becomes a Karma Accelerator, an engine to turn artistic possibility into direct urgent action. We create rituals of transformation, turning Grief into a daylong dance, Loss into midnight karaoke, Despair into mountains of letters, atoms into different atoms. For 1 month we become troubadours, witches, midwives, looping the past onto a new future, the artefacts of our rituals exposed for inspection under the lights. All can come and witness as we attempt to strip the theatre of its polite fossils and create a charged ritual space, a magnetised site sucking in the city's shadows.

We love the theatre, but we are worried that the constant crises of Late-Capitalism are killing its power to create visceral transformations on those who gather in its belly. Where there is no transformation, there can only be a sham of orderly expectation and middle-class edification. Our Karmic Accelerator, this unearthed post-post theatre, will construct an engine of labour to pump the hot blood of human kindness into its veins, powered by grist from the dark underbelly of our lives. We want to look into the darkness, reclaiming it along with our heritage as Outsider, Other, Weirdo. The doors will always be open, our rituals always public. Some may come, enervated by the promise of spectacle, others for a moment's peace in the dead of the night. Some may join us, stamping, holding, letting go, our fears dissipating in dust and lamplight. Transformation is inevitable.
For a month, we will turn up, clock in, and work. We will initiate and maintain a vigorous and vital contact with the people of the city, listening as they whisper into our ears, reading the notes they fold into our palms. We will take their estrangements, tensions and heartache, and fashion tools of metamorphosis from our minds and bodies, 4 lifetimes of experience, discarded shoes to slip into, stones from the river, colours, sounds and feathers harvested from the city: A toolbox of materials, behaviours, action plans. We will invite them in as we conjure performative rituals to transform these feelings into something new. These 4 weeks of 'research by doing' are the first stage of this journey, a chance to get under each other's skin, to ask our instincts to tell us how to do this, to help us recognise the click of form being transformed into new form.

We need to be able to step away from the distractions of our day-to-day lives in order to give this research the attention and energy it requires. We need to be able to spend the night away from home, working, making rituals at odd hours, and for durational activities to be possible. We need to carry out this work uninterrupted in order to get beyond the horizon we can imagine and into unknown country. We need a theatre to work within - with lights, a stage, an open door for audiences - in order to question its role, to attempt a transformation of both it, and the people who come into contact with it. We need to be strangers to the town, and to the people of the town; this work is the work of outsiders. If we eat and sleep under the same roof, walk the streets as a flock, listen, imagine and enact shared rituals for one month, what transformations will happen to us, to the theatre, and to the city?

The above images include photographs by Robin Junicke, Roger Rossell, Fanni Udvarnoki.

Karma Accerlator is a ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS production.

Additional thanks to: Léna Szirmay-Kalos & Jasna Vinrovski; Mechtild  Tellmann; Joshua Edelmann; Joseph Morgan Schofield.