Piet Gitz-Johansen, Sarah Otte, Johanna Wikgren, Thomas Bo Nilsson

Seven Tales of Misery (2006)


An expansive old building in central Copenhagen, once home to both a Freemason's lodge and a Pentecostal mission, was transformed into the dreamy and eerie residence of a staunch cult. It represented a secluded world resplendent with religious, secular and political rituals. The audience was directed through the 43 rooms in small groups before being released to explore the fictitious universe individually. They were taken to greet the austere Prince of Trauenstein, leader of the movement on his throne, and to pay visits to the chambers of the seven Continents, each symbolized by a pair of young women. The house was interwoven by magnetic tapes, driven by the 148 reel-to-reel tape recorders that constantly absorbed the symbolic miseries of the world. In the end, all misery would be collected, for the prince to bring to the magnetic North Pole and delete, thereby freeing the world from its sorrow, and ushering in a new era.

Date: 9th to 30th of September, 2006, 18:00 to 23:00 (except the 11th, 18th, and 25th)

Place: Plex - Københavns Musikteater, Kronprinsensgade 7, Copenhagen, Denmark

Press Quotes:

"As in their (Sørensen and Köstler’s) previous performance installations, ‘Seven Tales of Misery’ delves into the aesthetics of decay and disbandment. And once again, the two artists guide the audience into the subtle question of control and freedom, seduction and submission, as well as authentic and constructed reality." (translated from Danish)
- Vibeke Wern, Berlingske Tidende

"The level of intimacy is overwhelming. (...) It’s easy to sense how the different stories in Seven Tales of Misery take on their own lives and grow. You certainly get the urge to remain seated – or come back another evening: The production unashamedly absorbs the audience’s time. It’s also possible to take it a step further and interact with the residents. That’s why spectators need courage and curiosity to open the doors on their tour round. You never know what’s on the other side." (translated from Danish)
- Mette Garfield, Information

"With her lavish theatrical journey, performance pioneer Signa Sørensen has created a spectacular paraphrase of theatre as a ritual.
The strength of this piece of total-theatre lies in its paraphrasing of theatre as a ritual. The entire building is in actuality a mega theatre stage. A depiction of theatre as entrenched from the outside world and an elitist cult. Was it not Aristotle who talked of theatre as a cleansing, a catharsis. And uniformity, this is the formative process around common human misery, which we are expected to take home. The most challenging aspect of ‘Seven Tales of Misery, is the contrast between controlled uninformativity and varied diversity." (translated from Danish)
- Monna Dithmer, Politiken

“The old house sends fantastic signals about former times with discoloured wall-papers, worn stair-cases, dirty attics and damp basements. And the many performers - sometimes princesses, sometimes beggars or disciples - play their parts with an impressive mixture of authentic realism and theatrical mystery. As installation theater goes, and in this specialty the duo Signa and Arthur are fully fledged with many very successful performances behind them, the experience is terrific. It is like entering a time warp or an unknown continent -but also frightening, because the universe the performances symbolizes, the religious sect´s mixture of tyranny and complete devotion, sadly persists in real life. Here, you can barely just walk out the door when you have had enough.” (translated from Danish)
- Henrik Lyding, Jyllandsposten

"Now it’s more of a sense of being brainwashed that creeps up on us – that’s how thoroughly well executed and convincing the performance in Signa Sørensen and Arthur Köstler’s total installation is. The old building provides a fantastic feeling of by-gone days with its faded wallpaper, worn-down staircases, grotty attic rooms and damp-stained basements. And the many performers, from princesses and beggars to the disciples themselves, fulfil their roles with an impressive combination of authentic reality and theatrical mystique." (translated from Danish)
- Henrik Lyding, Jyllandsposten

Concept: Signa & Arthur Köstler and Martin Stig Andersen

Audio Design and Compositions: Martin Stig Andersen and Eyvind Gulbrandsen (Ass.)

Direction: Signa Köstler

Set Design: Signa Köstler and Thomas Bo Nilsson

Costumes: Thomas Bo Nilsson

Lighting: Eva Ulvan Handberg, Kristoffer Ernst-Lyngbye (Ass.)

Production Leader: Angelica Berdini and Sarah Otte (Ass.)

Production: PLEX – Københavns Musikteater and SIGNA

Devising Ensemble: (in alphabetical order)
Agustín Weissbein as Armando
Amitai Romm as Asa
Arthur Köstler as The Prince
Birgitte Klæbel as Angela
Camilla Bonde as Princess Arctica
Camilla Jørgensen as Alexina
Christian Mastrup as Adelbert
Cæcilie Arendt as Antonia
Djawed Kimouche as Anise
Ebbe Valbak as Abel
Eli Ingvarsson as Ali
Emil Groth Larsen as Allain
Eva Ulvan Handberg as Alexa
Frank Bätge as Arnie Ziegler
Frauke Materlik as Princess Germania
Gry Worre Hallberg as Arabella
Heidi Kit Møller as Avelina
Hernán Espinosa as Angel
Inga Gerner Nielsen as Adriana
Irina Zabrodina Jørgensen as Queen Russia
Iwona Rejmus as Princess Russia
Johanna Wikgren as Arletta
Julie Arndal Engstrand as Aíi
Katarina Cederin as Atlanta
Kenneth Harrison as Andrew
Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen as Alfred
Kristian Pallesen as Albert
Kristoffer Ernst-Lyngbye as Anton
Louisa Aisin as Queen Africa
Louise Bagger as Aimée
Luba Mukibi as Lady Africa
Madeleine Kate McGowan Nielsen as Annabella
Mads Bech Paluszewski as Aron
Mads Fahnøe as Alvin
Maria Rugbjerg as Aíia
Marianne Hendriksen as Annetta
Mattias Almlund as Alex
Momo Subotic as Adamu
Nana Francisca Schottländer as the mermaid
Ojuna Njama Petersen as Princess Asia
Oldoz Javidi as
Paco Fernández as Alberto
Parvin Yazdani as Atehfeh
Peter Tommila as August
Pia Bertoldi as America
Piet Gitz-Johansen as Aston
Sarah Otte as Anita
Sasha Bothilde Handberg as Angelita
Saskia Ruesenberg as Miss Germania
Signa Köstler as Ambra
Signe Erichsen as Albina
Sofia Johansson as Adeline
Sol Montaldo as America
Sonja Salkowitsch as Ava
Stefanie de Souza as Adara
Stig Eivind Vatne as Alban
Thomas Bo Nilsson as Adrian
Tina Kraft as Queen Arctica
Tomomi Yamauchi as Queen Asia
Tristan Alexander Kold Christensen as Ace
Valentina Etchart as Ada
Vanja Sandell as Adora
Zena Al Kamesy as Queen Arabia
Zille Gellert as Amy

Sound Installation Engineers: Christian Mastrup, Mads Bech Paluszewski, Ebbe Valbak, Sebastian Randall and Simon Lausten Østergaard

Telephone System: Christian Mastrup

Web Design: Arthur Köstler and Djawed Kimouche

Photos: Erich Goldmann 

Supported by: Kunstrådets Musikdramatiske Udvalg, Nordisk Kulturfond, Dansk Komponistforening, Tuborgfonden


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