The Empty Plan/Theatre for a New Time (Oslo)

www.kunsthalloslo.no

Anja Kirschner and David Panos: The Empty Plan

Trine Falch: Theatre for a New Time

May 14 — June 26, 2011

The exhibitions open on the evening of Friday 13th May with a screening of The Empty Plan at 18.00 (78 min.)
Performance by Trine Falch at 19.30.

Kunsthall Oslo is pleased to present two projects concerned with performance and politics, contemporary artistic reexaminations of the theory and practice of radical theatre. 

The Empty Plan is a new feature-length film by Anja Kirschner and David Panos that centres on Bertolt Brecht’s time in exile in Los Angeles. Theatre for a New Time is an exhibition produced by performance artist Trine Falch, presenting scenes from the radical, collectivist early years of the 40-year-old Norwegian institution Hålogaland Theatre.

The Empty Plan
Part documentary, part historical reconstruction and part melodrama, The Empty Plan (2010, 78 minutes) interrogates the relationship between theory and practice in the theatre of Bertolt Brecht. The film contrasts scenes from Brecht’s exile in Los Angeles with productions of his play The Mother (1931) in the Weimar Republic, New Deal America and post-war East Germany, exploring different modes of performance and their relation to changing historical and political circumstances. The title comes from Brecht’s Messingkauf Dialogues, an unfinished theoretical work written during his exile, which considers the possibilities of ‘committed art’ and its practical, theoretical and formal limits at a time when revolutionary mass movements had been defeated and theatre was supplanted by Hollywood cinema as the dominant form of popular entertainment.

Through the figures of Brecht, his collaborator Ruth Berlau and his wife, the actress Helene Weigel, the film reflects on conflicting personal, artistic and political ambitions, raising questions about the nature of art and the unrealised dream of its supersession through revolutionary practice.

Anja Kirschner (b.1977, Munich) and David Panos (b.1971, Athens) live and work in London. Their long-form narrative films collide popular culture references, historical research and literary tropes, and address contemporary aesthetic, social and political questions. Their productions involve amateurs, actors and specialists from other disciplines in the creation of speculative histories and spectacular fantasies that comment on social reality.

Theatre for a New Time
Theatre for a New Time presents scenes salvaged from the archives of the 40-year-old Norwegian institution Hålogaland Theatre, uncovering its beginnings as a radical 1970s collective that sought to reinvent theatre ‘in the service of the people’. The company attempted to apply the principles of the revolutionary left to cultural production, and intervened directly in political conflicts in their adopted community. Their antagonistic productions intentionally polarised opinion, and the questions their early experiments raised remain uncomfortable and mostly unanswered today. In February this year, performance artist Trine Falch assembled the members of this first generation of Hålogaland Theatre to produce a new work, Allmannateater, in the form of a series of public meetings.

This project led to the exhibition Falch has made for Kunsthall Oslo, which reworks materials from the archives of the theatre’s first decade, accompanied by a new performance from Falch herself. Kunsthall Oslo will also screen the 1974 television production of the play ‘Det e her æ høre tel’ (‘Here is where I belong’), and a newly-commissioned film of the Allmannateater production from Dramatikkens Hus, Oslo.

Trine Falch has worked in live art and experimental theatre since the 1980s. She dropped out of the Theatre Studies course at the University of Bergen in 1986 to work with Verdensteatret, and in 1988 she joined the influential performance collective Baktruppen. Baktruppen gained an international reputation for performance work that explored the boundaries of the genre, emphasising ideas over traditional performance skills. Since 2007 Falch has been working independently on a series of productions rooted in an exploration of theatre history.

Kunsthall Oslo would like to thank Dan Kidner; Kai Johnsen and Dramatikkens Hus; the cast of the Allmannateater; and NRK for their assistance. Kaja Rastad has made the models and Hilde Honerud has made the film from Dramatikkens hus.

The Empty Plan film production was funded by Arts Council England through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network, co-produced with City Projects and supported by Focal Point Gallery, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Kunsthall Oslo.

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