Two Tracks for the Spectator

A circle of artists gathers in a garden in Denmark. It is a bright morning. They wait for a summer night when the setting sun will dance.

A friend from another continent is about to join them. With him, dreaming with open eyes, they will depart on a pilgrimage into the regions of Andersen's fairy tales. Europe is at peace, or at least their country is. Or perhaps only their garden. In that confined space, time stands still and liquefies.

It is summer, yet snow falls, and the snow becomes tainted with black. Their fantasies sail on a tenebrous dream: a vessel that transports men and women in chains. The artist feel the weight of invisible chains. Are they too enslaved?

When the pilgrimage is about to end, the open-eyed dreamers become aware that their summer's day has lasted a lifetime. The bed of dreamless sleep awaits them. Figures are coming to take them. Are they ghosts, puppets or toys? What kind of life do we live, when we stop dreaming? And which tragedy or farce does the sun dance?

Hans Christian Andersen (1805 - 1875) wrote in his diary how he dreamt he was invited by the king to travel on his ship. Panting, Andersen reached the habour but the royal vessel had already set sail. Called on board another ship, he was brutally thrown into the hold and there he realised he was part of a load of slaves.

Hans Christian Andersen's grandfather was insane and his father, a cobbler with an exacerbated sensibility, died when his son was still a child. His mother, a washerwoman, drank to keep warm while washing clothes in the river. She was considered little more than an alcoholic prostitute and died of delirium tremens in a poorhouse. Andersen kept well away from the squalor of her death. Already famous, he remained where he was, in Rome.

Since childhood, Andersen had wanted to escape from the slavery of his social condition. When only fourteen, he ran away from the poverty of his native Odense to Copenhagen, becoming a singer, ballet dancer, actor and writer. However, he never lost the anguished awareness that only through constant struggle could he break the chains of his original condition of serf, and that perhaps, in the belly of his beloved and civilised country, a people of slaves was hidden.

 

 

Photos: Jan Rusz

Scenic space: Luca Ruzza, Odin Teatret

Production architect: Johannes Rauff Greisen

Lighting concept: Luca Ruzza, Knud Erik Knudsen, Odin Teatret

Light design: Jesper Kongshaug

Music: Kai Bredholt, Jan Ferslev, Frans Winther
Masks and puppets: Fabio Butera, Danio Manfredini

Artistic objects: Plastikart and Studio PkLab

Costumes: Odin Teatret

Dramaturg: Thomas Bredsdorff

Literary advisor: Nando Taviani
Assistant directors: Raúl Iaiza, Lilicherie Macgregor, Anna Stigsgaard

Dramaturgy and directing: Eugenio Barba

211 performances from October 2004 to April 2011 (Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Denmark, Brazil, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia & Montenegro, Taiwan, France, Poland, Spain)