Next Waves Theater, Volksbühne, Berlin. 2021


Marcel Duchamp was carried to New York in a transatlantic ocean liner named the Rochambeau in 1915. In the 1920s, he posed for Man Ray to form the image of his female pseudonym Rrose Selavy. A designated mysterious identity whose name was signed to various works, it deploys a play on words - 'Eros, C'est la vie'.

In ROCHAMBEAU, the company stage a contemporary readymade as a streaming work-in-progress - with the tension between found 'object' and its self determined frame spliced by machine generated content. Working with a variety of performance collaborators, director Tilman Hecker moves with Thilo Schmidt’s camera through a set of evocations and scenarios, with actors speaking predictive text generated by QuickType into an uncanny field of recognisability, while swerving into a toolkit of burlesque and historical pastime. Composer Davið Brynjar Franszon has developed various AI processing tools which intercept and transform parts of these recordings into sonic environments. Belle Santos’ costumes draw, like the props, from the historic fundus of the Volksbühne to shroud the performers in an incantation of early 20th/21st century passenger, sailor, or persona - completing the recursive loop of framework that folds back and plays with its own logic.

Study #2 took the form of a sequenced and rhizomatic network of webpages, making edits and ‘raw’ footage available in labyrinthine turns. Study #3 revisits this leaping structure as though in repertory for Next Waves Theater. In this case, the rate of recurrence does not always demonstrate a clear logic. Across the feeds of social media, there is no formula evident for algorithmic repetition. A repertory theatre alternates and repeats work from its repertoire, opening up questions of sustainability in practice, attempts to engage different audiences, and the torsion of material across different platforms.

Featuring performances by Ivan Cheng, Frank Willens, FRZNTE, Katharina Meves, Eugen Ivan Bergmann, Alexey Kokhanov, Leroy von Bergen, Hannah Endrulat, and the voice of Lynsey Peisinger

Director of Cinematography: Thilo Schmidt
Camera day 1,2,3: Thilo Schmidt
Camera day 4: Harabell Pereira, Konstantin Hapke
Study #3 Video edit: Ivan Cheng and Tilman Hecker

Costumes: Belle Santos
Composition: Davið Brynjar Franzson
Dramaturgy, Web Design: Ivan Cheng
Direction: Tilman Hecker

Rochambeau was first developed in 2017 in a 12 day research period at Uferstudios, Berlin. With set & costume - Marte Eknæs + Nicolau Vergueiro, video - Thilo Schmidt, performers - Jan Andreesen, Ivan Cheng, Lynsey Peisinger, Viktoriya Muhamejanova, Frank Willens, directed by Tilman Hecker

Volksbühne cast
Production coordinator: Michael Ladner
Production coordinator assistant: Bernhard Ferrari
Sound: Leroy von Bergen, Nico Schweda, Deniz Sungur, Michele Gambarara
Lighting: Stefan Prengel, Joachim Koltzer, Denise Potratz
Props: Cornelia Behmenburg, Yvonne Schulz, Carla Schweigart
Costume support: Christin Bahro, Marion Schirra, Ulrike Schulze-Weckowska
Wigs and Make-up: Masken-Team Volksbühne Berlin
Special thanks to the company and crew, Marie Stolze, Özgür Kar, Ludovica Parenti & Daniel Horn, Eugen Ivan Bergmann, Shade Théret, Ulrike Köhler.