First Part of Hotel Pro Forma’s Underworld Trilogy
Following several years of a high level of international activities Hotel Pro Forma is back on Danish soil as well as back at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Specifically at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek where Kirsten Dehlholm created five legendary nonverbal performance pieces during the years 1978-1992. Now she is back with a staging of the oldest legend in the world – the epic of Gilgamesh – told in words and music. GILGAMESH is the first part of Hotel Pro Forma’s ambitious trilogy about the underworld.
Over the next three seasons Kirsten Dehlholm and Hotel Pro Forma create a trilogy of productions, all of which are based on ancient pre-historic myths about the underworld: GILGAMESH (18/19), AMDUAT (19/20) and OPERATION: ORFEO (20/21). Because, it is from the underworld we get our worldview, perspective and insights into ourselves:
“Inside all of us there is an underworld and a primitive human being. We are not very different at all. We look different, but we are all made up of the same fundamental characteristics such as basic needs, instincts, desires and wishes. These are measured out in different ways and will be fulfilled in different ways in each one of us. The underworld is where we meet Lars von Trier.”
Kirsten Dehlholm, artistic director, Hotel Pro Forma.
Gilgamesh by Hotel Pro Forma
The tale of Gilgamesh was written in cuneiform writing on clay tablets 4000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. For this staging the text has been adapted and reworked by Danish poet Morten Søndergaard in collaboration with Assyriologist and Ph.D. fellow Sophus Helle, and the publication of the newly translated text is set to coincide with the premiere of the performance.
Gilgamesh is about king Gilgamesh, tyranny and power, adventure and daring, chaotic love, friendship and great sadness, the quest for immortality and eternal life.
Like a literary fireball the tale has burned its way throughout the history of the world to this day and over time served as a mirror in which changing cultures could study themselves.
The tale’s enduring relevance after several millennia may be due to the fact that it embodies a multitude of timeless subjects and bears witness to an all-encompassing humanity.
A musical walk
GILGAMESH is a musical walk with tableaus created for each of the 15 rooms around the ceremonial hall in Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. The museum’s monumental architecture and many rooms of prehistoric sculptures serve as frame for the tale’s many facets of the fights between gods and men, rise and decline, nature and culture, life and death. Told in the form of an epic poem.
The four musicians of FIGURA Ensemble and the three performers present the Gilgamesh texts as speech, sound and rap, as they move through the rooms. The audience follow the performers, walking among the tableaus, free to sit down and move around as they want. On the journey through the rooms visual fragments connected with the tale are seen. Several are intermingling with the statues of the Glyptotek, breathing life into certain sculptures.
Hotel Pro Forma’s underworld trilogy
GILGAMESH is Hotel Pro Forma’s first largescale primeval myth and sets the scene for the two following productions in the trilogy.
AMDUAT. AN OXYGEN MACHINE is the second part of the trilogy. The piece is an investigation of our relationship with death and its rituals. AMDUAT means ”that which is in the afterworld”. It is the name of the ancient Egyptian concept of the land of the dead. The text is written by author Harald Voetmann and inspired by the ancient Egyptian book of the dead while incorporating new texts based on the real life experience of loss when his father died from cancer at a hospital in Denmark a few years ago. AMDUAT. AN OXYGEN MACHINE premieres at Theatre Republique in April of 2020.
OPERATION:ORFEO is the last part of the trilogy. The piece is Hotel Pro Forma’s iconic classic from 1993. The myth of Orpheus’ journey to the underworld is not reproduced literally, but instead it serves as a dramaturgic sequence based on a classic tripartite structure and presenting a series of images, composed and translated into a contemporary visual stage language. The tripartite structure refers back to the development of the three phases of the myth: descent, rise and loss, staged with song and music. OPERATION:ORFEO is restaged in the spring of 2021.