I ONLY APPEAR TO BE DEAD
A Musical Performance about H.C. Andersen
The title I Only Appear to be Dead refers to the handwritten note Hans Christian Andersen would place on his bedside table at night, due to his fear of being buried alive. But the title can also refer to the enormous attention devoted to him and his literary and visual work in the present day.
Andersen kept a journal of his experiences for most of his life. I only appear to be dead focuses on the poet’s journal entries, primarily based on his many journeys and periods of residence outside of Denmark.
He felt a constant need for new impressions, whilst never losing sight of his native country. All of this takes place with Denmark, Europe and the historical, social and technical developments of the 19th century as a graphic backdrop.
The man of the diaries is a completely different person from the internationally recognised writer of fairytales who ‘only writes for children’. Darkness, doubt and fatality form the fundament of his writings. An inner voice of one who is only set free through the act of creation.
The diaries are harrowing and ample proof of the fact that he found it very hard to control his imagination. His obsessive ideas and attacks of angst were directly channelled into his fairytales. A sight and mind containing sublime poetry and incredible eeriness, which survives through the use of humour, black humour, and an inexorable belief in happiness. Forever ever after…
The performance I Only Appear to be Dead focuses on the darker side of Andersen’s journeys and fantasies. From the diaries concrete accounts and comments come to life as a number of scenic acts. Situations are acted out in several different versions. Hints of stories are shown in brief sequences that are repeated and form long chains of events. A stream of images is frozen by intersecting moments.
A long and narrow stage (28 m x 4 m), follows the length of the room. Depth and distance between audience and performers are replaced by intimacy and a wide angle spatial experience.
The performing characters come from the left and walk to the right as the words are read in a book. In single file, in pairs or groups they take their places in the image-creating tableaux or continue in configuration without stopping. The audience follows them without being able to grasp completely the sequence on the long stage. A skewed perceptual gaze increases distance and intimacy.
The stage is the path and the journey, where the events of life take place, subject to Andersen’s original optics. They remind us of the many realities that exist – and that everything depends on sight and senses. The music is composed for fourteen singers and is performed both live and in electronic arrangement.
Duration 90 min. no intermission