Stifters Dinge | Heiner Goebbels
Photos - Mario Del Curto
With an installation you can generally walk around and savour what you wish to from it; to come into a theatre and know that it, whatever it may be, has begun, subverts expectations of any familiar experience. Stifters Dinge is a piece that could be likened to some sort of compulsory contemplation or enforced meditation; it is very slow-moving indeed, making audiences stop, sit and be mindful, or, perhaps, bored.
The mechanics of this piece are fascinating, in so far as you marvel at how it is all made to fit in the Merlyn Theatre, to such effect that it seems to have been solely designed for the space. An odd robot form makes its way across the stage then is not seen again. A large island upstage contains a menagerie of pianos and a group of intriguing instrumental inventions. The first sense of anything happening is when technicians fill three large rectangular shallow pools with water from a tank to the left then sprinkle a whitish powder over the water. Two large pipes on the floor turn out to be wind instruments, accompanied by something that might be the progeny of a piano and a knitting machine. White screens descend and ascend slowly from the ceiling in a slow ballet, showing an old-fashioned illustration, apparently lit from within. The passing of time, night and day are shown by light but the picture itself is static. A soundscape of a 'sampled' conversation in an indigenous language from Papua New Guinea comes into play along with the the slow looming approach and retreat of the pianos from upstage, their passing over the pools igniting a reaction from the water which boils and mists. Each pool is illuminated by a backwards and forwards light, reminiscent of a photocopier.
Stifters Dinge is all about things of course, you are meant to become aware and inspired of the 'thingness of things' as inspired by the detailed writing of Aldabert Stifte. Don't expect any landscape of personality, think instead of seeing a theatre piece consisting of only props, gentle effects of light and sound, water and mist, and well, that's it.
2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival
Stifters Dinge (Stifters Things)
Venue: The CUB Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre
Dates: Fri 8 – Mon 11 Oct at 2pm, 5pm & 8pm, Tue 12 Oct at 2pm & 5pm
Duration: 1hr 10min no interval
Tickets: $55 - $25
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 | www.melbournefestival.com.au | M-Tix 03 9685 5111 | www.malthousetheatre.com.au