Foto: Adam Dreessen

No power without mass, #1 - 2022

By Johanna Roggan and Romy Schwarzer 

the guts company conceives, realises and develops classical stage productions, open presentation formats, installations, sitespecific works, discourse formats and public laboratory situations. Since 2018, the ensemble has been exploring the theme of power in different facets and negotiating between above and below, between right and wrong, between hope and utopia. 

A review
MACHT#1 – AM KÖNIGSWEG after Elfriede Jelinek (2019/20):  

Without Mass, No Power. A round dance of leading and following, of submission and promise. 

(…) Not to be too correct, not to shout, not to spit, not to wave banners, not to smash windows, not to shout Halt! at every opportunity, nothing will be stopped from that, not by people who wouldn’t even brake for animals! Don’t accuse others of being stupid! That goes for me, I do it all the time. Don’t look down on others! Don’t stand up, and if you do, leave the chair! Not to be self-righteous and not to be correct, but also not to be anything that could offend or offend others. As a disappointed person, do not be disappointing yourself! Do not deceive anyone else either! The King says what is, only you are always mistaken, he is not. (…) (Excerpt: Elfriede Jelinek/Am Königsweg)  

In its first production on the theme of power, the guts company deals with the theatre text “Am Königsweg” by Elfriede Jelinek. The evening follows the thesis: no mass, no power, and it is about the question of what people would sacrifice to belong to this mass? Two dancers on stage and an actress on 11 screens engage in a great round of “leading and following”. They thematise submission, wordiness, dazzle, promise and repetition as ingredients for a successful leadership over a mass of identity-hungry, orientation-seeking, “new” citizens. 

MACHT#2 – the skin (2020/21)  

is dedicated to human rights, experiences of powerlessness, subversion and self-empowerment. Based on the assumption that human rights are (like) our skin, which protects our insides and yet lets the outside world in, the guts company negotiates the following questions: How much violation can we withstand? At what point do we fight back and how? And when do we leave a place that violates our human rights on a daily basis? How does it feel to be granted fewer or no human rights? What are survival strategies or what can be forms of self-empowerment?  

Maybe two weeks I lay on the floor and watched the sun move from left to right out of the window. That’s what I remember. That was all I saw. I didn’t think about anything, I didn’t feel anything, just watched the sun go from left to right. 

(Excerpt: Interview with Gosha, who fled Russia to Ukraine because of torture).  

MACHT – Symposium, Workshop, Audio-Walk (2021)  

As a conclusion of the project MACHT#2, the guts company organised a symposium with various speakers and a workshop with the director Florian Fischer and the performer Jacob Kovner in the Hole of Fame. In the Hole of Fame, all the collected and developed pieces on the theme of power and human rights were set up as a video-photo-text installation. As a summary of the many ends, the visitors were able to experience a 32-minute interactive audio feature by Lukas Pohlmann during a walk. Nothing absolves them of their responsibility. The bond to their responsibility cannot simply be severed like the bond to a ski or an unsatisfied sexual partner. They will remain attached to their responsibility, come what may. (Excerpt: And forgive us our powerlessness, Audio-drama-walk, 2021) 

Outlook, last part of the trilogy
MACHT#3 – Hope  

The pandemic is still ongoing and the guts company is thinking in perspective about the effects and consequences of the pandemic. What will remain are the lines of social conflict that have strengthened in recent months as if they were under a viral burning glass. Cracks have deepened, rhetoric of rejection has become more violent, empathetic encounters more difficult. Much resistance everywhere! It seems easier than ever to connect with a “against” than a “for”. Or is the observation deceptive? Does resistance also harbour utopias? What hopes can be kindled? Hope is the catchword for the upcoming production MACHT#3. It becomes more personal, almost intimate. We rehearse the inner emigration. We dig for our very personal hopes and put our looks, thoughts, our melancholy, our fear and joy up for grabs. What helps us to look to the future with hope? What do we contribute? 

the guts company/Johanna Roggan  

Co-production HELLERAU-European Centre for the Arts and Forum Gestaltung Magdeburg. Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen*, Landeshauptstadt Dresden/Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz, Kulturstiftung Dresden der Dresdner Bank. Supported by DIEHL+RITTER/TANZPAKT RECONNECT, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the NEUSTART KULTUR initiative.  
* This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget passed by the Saxon State Parliament.