Struggling with mortality
After doctors diagnosed Gustav Mahler as suffering from a fatal heart disease, he wrote Das Lied von der Erde (1909). For the final part – Der Abschied – he created one of his most personal compositions. To a friend he wrote: “I have lost everything that made me the person I was. I must learn to walk again like a child.”
Grace Ellen Barkey is now posing the same questions about our struggle with mortality. They particularly focus on the contrast with nature, which is eternal and continually renews itself. Barkey explains: “Singing about life all the time is unsustainable for anyone. Death – or rather, human beings’ finite nature – also deserves a song, a dance.”
Maarten Seghers gives us an intimate rendition of the song and the orchestration as a kind of commemoration, supported by the dancers Mélissa Guérin, Sarah Lutz and Mohamed Toukabri, and a new installation by Lemm&Barkey. In the meantime, Der Abschied’s score becomes visible in a choreography.
• Needcompany is an artists’ company that was founded in 1986 by the theatre maker and visual artist Jan Lauwers and the artist and choreographer Grace Ellen Barkey. In 2004, she founded Lemm&Barkey together with Needcompany’s Lot Lemm.
idea, choreography Grace Ellen Barkey | installation Lemm&Barkey | music Der Abschied, Das Lied von der Erde (Gustav Mahler) | with Maarten Seghers, Mélissa Guérin, Sarah Lutz, Mohamed Toukabri | costumes Lot Lemm | musical dramaturgy Rombout Willems | dramaturgy Elke Janssens | sound Bart Aga | production, technique Marjolein Demey, Gwen Laroche | internship Camille Doucet | production Needcompany | co-production Steirischer Herbst, Internationales Figurentheater-Festival (Erlangen en Nürnberg), PACT Zollverein | with the support of the Flemish authorities