AUFBRUCHSGEISTER (DEPARTING MINDS) – experimental performance Sound | Movement | Dramatic Enactment

Performances: Friday, 14. Jan | Saturday, 15. Jan | Friday,  21. Jan | Saturday, 22. Jan – 8:30pm

Venue: Old Customs House, 8 Phillimore St, Fremantle, WA, 6160   | Bar and doors open from 7:30pm | duration: approx. 60 min – no interval

Previous reviews: Stage Whispers | xpressmagHeraldSeesaw | SceneStr 

Current ensemble: Liv Richardson, Emma Benischauer, Ainsley Marr, Elisabeth Eitelberger



Let me tell you the original seed of this story.

There was this person in Australia who had big dreams for this world but felt a lot of disgust with what was going on: deforestation, animal slaughter, mining, corruption in environmental decision making, refugee scandals and social injustice at large. She started to speak up, which at some point made her a loner. Voicing out what she believed as the truth, she lost friends and family who would not stand behind her anymore. But she continued to demonstrate, to put herself out there, nearly committing crimes against the law, whilst desperately searching for like-minded souls.

There was this guy in China with similar beliefs who created an App on the dark net for people just like her. He called it Aufbruchsgeister, Departing Minds. An App that promised to bring people together who had other ideas for this world than destroying it.

There was this woman in America, who was on her way to get married. She also found this App. The App promised to take her to a place where she would be understood. Where you could speak the truth without being abandoned, without ending up as an outcast of society. She had to make the choice of whether to download the App or not. It was a quick decision. It happened right there and then for the woman with the bride’s dress in her arms, as well as the person in Australia, others in Europe, Japan and many more from around the world. It happened to the ones who found the App because they thought not to fit society’s expectations, because of their strong beliefs about the environment and the future of this planet. They clicked on the App and disappeared. As if they had vanished from this earth. But they appeared again, in this strange and ancient forest that smells so familiar.

They couldn’t see each other, didn’t know each other, never met. They were all lost in the forest. The place holds the memories of all our pasts, all our stories, all our worries, desires and hopes. Each of them wandered around, curious, then started to feel exhausted. For many days they struggled along by themselves, losing orientation, so thirsty, nearly giving up, almost dying. But eventually one of them finds water and this vacant, self-sufficient farmhouse in the middle of a clearing. She figures out there is food and shelter, so she stays a few days to recover.

All the ones, who went on this crazy journey, eventually make it to that farmhouse too. Once they meet, they realise that they are completely different and don’t get along with each other very well. But they need to because they live here together. There is no one else except them, no reception. Their phones don’t work anymore, no power to recharge them. They talk about how everything would be in chaos, the whole Universe, but that harmony would still exist somehow. And this connects them. They realise that they need to work together, and this is how they get on with each other. Feeling better, they eventually decide to go on a hike to find civilisation again. But in the end, they never do that and stay. They have everything they need in this place. For the rest of the world, they remain missing.

Here we finally meet face to face, vulnerable, each one of us different and still so alike. We are no strangers to this forest. We share a positive seed of imagination. Our voice is out there. Our feelings count. Our vision will make change happen…

ABOUT: The ‘departing minds’ have one goal, not to feel foreign in their own skin, once they gather around others in this rather small environment. And suddenly they sit with these people in the same ‘boat’. Poetic drama about a desperate search for allies in uncertain times.
‘DEPARTING MINDS’ is written by Existence Theatre and involves three to four performers. The work highlights the powerful impact of self-actualisation in unpredictable times to achieve change in self and others. In overlapping poetic monologues the protagonists talk about their existential struggles that are based on the inner and outer dilemmas they face. They try to find each other in the middle of a silent revolution that is felt by some, perhaps ignored by others. While struggling along by themselves at first, they find each other in the middle of a crowd that came together to join forces and find answers to their questions. The performance responds to habituated and embodied expressions that need to be challenged so that adaptation to chaotic, uncertain situations can happen in more flexible ways. But unforeseen situations of change can trigger emotional eruptions, that either manifest internally or externally. The focus is on showing close-up vulnerability as a strength and how someone gets affected by their environment. This means i.e. raising awareness of the effects that micro-racism and stereotypical stigmatisation have on the individual.

The yet largely unexplored universe will probably always remain a mystery to humankind, as much as the human psyche, existence and the question of the meaning of life. Universal existence may be perceived as chaos by a limited human intellect, however can also be seen as perfectly harmonious miracle that surpasses human understanding. 

Feelings and emotions manifest themselves in the body, in thought and
in how we act and react in relation to others. This work raises awareness that in times of global crisis, people suffer differently and to various extent due to their individual history. A process that reflects on the increasingly used term of resilience by approaching it through the concept of connectedness with others. 

The performance tests to which extent a human performer will adapt to chaos before frustration, lack of concentration and loss of physical endurance will set in. An experiment that examines at which point performers‘ ability for healthy emotion regulation starts to be affected. The performance is a simulation of how an individual tries to face chaos while still aiming to create order. It speaks to the different levels of self-driven connectivity to human nature in particular and society at large. 

By using a fully embodied approach the individual performer moves from self-actualisation to the initiative to change, progress and grow in relation to self and other. It is further questioned how long a person does endure a chaotic system without giving up, breaking down or even feeling pushed over the edge. 

Each performer tries to accommodate to the following task:
How can you try to adapt to different environments? Attempt to understand 

and act out the ambivalence of chaos and harmony. It is not the goal to make yourself comfortable but to face and sense an increased level of stress, that needs to be communicated to other performers as well as the audience so that everyone feels emotionally engaged. 

Face this chaotic challenge by confessing your own struggles to the audience, that under usual circumstances may be hidden behind daily functioning in the fear of stigmatisation or critique. 

Aim to demonstrate and enact how stress and traumatic experience may reinforce particular feelings and emotions within an already suffering soul that is influenced by time and space. Embody and express freely what needs to be communicated in the present moment to find, and recognise your allies. 

The space is used in following fashion: 

– three stations (representing different feeling states) around a sound source that symbolises unpredictability and instability
– performers move between those stations according to sound changes and also exchange their protagonistic roles, they explore their text lines in context to the different environments (for example: having a negative thought may be felt/expressed differently in a hopeful place but may be reinforced by a constraining, dark place – but depending on the person) 

Cathedral of Hope: a place to rest, to regain energy, a safe space, a hiding place 
The Cell: captured, trapped, society excluded you, not vaccinated, or not functioning properly (each of the AUFBRUCHSGEISTER (DEPARTING MINDS) has been in such a place/ situation before) 
Observation Spot: in this place you look on and do nothing, you are not happy to be with the others, you consider yourself priviledged, elite, and take the Aufbruchsgeister not serious, think them to be stupid. However you are not brainy enough to comprehend their mission, so you intend to do as little as possible in order to get the most out of it for yourself. 

A modular synth (consisting of separate modules for different functions) is programmed for random chaos and forces the performers to engage in physical actions that are not predictable. This process aims to challenge performers‘ responsiveness and stamina. The arrangement of the composed sound sequences (eight hours in total)and the performers‘ movements are directed by this sound source that is placed in the middle of the space. Unlike a conventional process of sound to guide the performance in planned fashion, the performers react to sound cues that randomly change. This means that each of the performances will be different and only representing a part of the sound sequences. 

In overlapping monologues three performers talk about their existential struggles that are based on the inner and outer dilemmas they face in uncertain times. These protagonists try to find each other in the middle of a silent revolution that is felt by some, ignored by others. While struggling along by themselves at first, they go on a journey and find each other to join forces and answers to their questions. 

Different scenes and texts change variably, acted out by the perfomers while everyone explores the whole text. 

Introduction by Elisabeth M Eitelberger, ART IN PROCESS|Existence Theatre 


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