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Yasen Vasilev’s third text for theater, Elevation 506, will make its debut in its German translation in Vienna at Theatre Drachengasse on February 16th 2015.
Elevation 506 is a contemporary documentary theatre play inspired by the life and murder of Bulgaria’s first expressionist poet Geo Milev. The play is a collage of memories, documents, archives, letters and recordings that follow the life of the poet who lost his eye while at the front during the First world war (at elevation 506 near the lake of Doyran) and was later prosecuted, kidnapped and killed under the so-called Law on the Protection of the State because of his notorious revolutionary and anti-establishment poem “September” – a chronicle of the September uprising of 1923 which was brutally smashed by the government. His body was found many years later in a mass grave near Sofia with around 50 other skeletons and only recognized because of the glass eye.
The text is built around the dramatic contrast of three voices – the voice of the poet, the choir of his close ones (mother, father, wife, daughter, sister, fellow poets, colleagues and friends) and the voice of the government (through official documents, statements and conclusions). Deciding to combine the voices of the relatives in a choir is reference to Ancient Greek tragedy which was also a recurrent motif in his own poetic work.
A poet, a theatre director, a translator, an editor and a theoretician, he is one of the most important figures in Bulgarian culture but is neither widely recognized abroad nor well-known in his own country, being a victim of easy political labels and mass misunderstanding of his work and message. 2015 marks 120 years of his birth and 90 of his brutal murder. With far-right parties again winning the vote in Europe and across the globe, it is memory and understanding of the past that has to protect us from repeating the same mistakes.
Staged reading of the play: February 16th 2015, starting at 8 PM
Address: Theatre Drachengasse (1010 Vienna, Fleischmarkt 22)
Director: Sandra Schüddekopf
With: Roman Blumenschein, Katrin Grumeth, Petra Strasser, Florian Tröbinger
Borgestriptych premiered as half-live performance, half-video installation on Halloween night 2014. The piece is devised so that the six scenes of the play fit the six floors of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, starting from lobby and finishing up on the rooftop. On the night of Oct31, as part of the 3-year anniversary celebration of the residency and the opening of the Faces&Traces exhibition, five scenes of the piece were screened on five different floors and the 6th scene was continuously performed live throughout the night on floor R in The Good Fortune Suite. Then on Nov 1st the full live performance had its first two full runs as a site-specific immersive theatre piece with the audience moving along with the actors from lobby to rooftop. The team involved theatre professional from Bulgaria, China, USA, UK, Ghana, Afghanistan, France and Germany. It will be on in Shanghai again in 2015.
THE WALLED IN ONES in Shanghai was part of my open studio at the end of the 6-month artist residency at the SAPH and the first performative reading of the play in English (translation by Angela Rodel) with three freelance actors currently living in Shanghai and working with different local theatre companies: Aaron Garcia, Awesta Zarif and Björn Dahlman.
Björn Dahlman is an actor, director, playwright and clown. He runs his own theatre company Bananteatern in his hometown Uppsala, Sweden. He holds an MFA in acting from Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, has participated in theatre productions and films in Sweden, toured in India with Clowns without borders and performed in the international project Re-Orientations that had a two weeks run at Shanghai Dramatic Art Centre in 2010. As a director he focuses on international collaborations. His play Ragulabuggla, in collaboration with Indian artist Rupesh Tillu, has won awards in Fringe Festivals in Stockholm and Prague and has been listed Best of Fringe/Special selection in Amsterdam and Rome, and has been touring India and USA in collaboration with UNESCO Center for peace. He is currently studying Chinese at Shanghai Theatre Academy, translating his solo performance Frankenstein into Chinese and directing the children´s play A night in February (一个二月的夜晚) with Shanghai based E Theatre.
Originally from Afghanistan, Awesta grew up San Diego, CA and studied theatre arts at Boston University. She has somehow ended up in Shanghai where she’s been working as an actress and drama teacher. Awesta is stoked to be a part of this reading and hopes everyone can appreciate the mystery of this play as much as she does! XOXO
Aaron Garcia is an actor here in Shanghai from the US. He has been in Shanghai for about a year. When not rushing off to some rehearsal for something or other you can find him traipsing the streets of Shanghai looking for the ultimate dumpling place. Previous shows in Shanghai include “Self: A smart Phone Experience”, Charlie and the chocolate factory, “Almost, Maine”, and “Rock ON! Halloween”
YEZZEN is a collaboration between Bulgarian playwright/poet Yasen Vasilev and Swedish musician Christian Berg (KITE). It is an intense improvisational 20-minute spoken word performance combining original contemporary poetry in Bulgarian with noise created live at place. Thus with the audience not really understanding the language the focus is moved from meaning to sound and words start to have almost ritual functions.
June 10th, Basement 6 Collective, Shanghai
June 15th, O!Collective Happening, Tongji University, Shanghai