Meta Theater UpStage Improvs Reviewed

Above: Florian Reinhold alias Jacqueline and painter Max Ott improvise in Meta Theater, with UpStage projected behind them. (Foto: Christian Endt)

Meta Theater #digitalDuring the first half of 2022, Meta Theater #digital presented a series of “open improvs” using UpStage in conjunction with the physical theatre space. The presentations explored the possibilities of hybrid digital-analogue, online-offline performances, inviting artists from various disciplines to improvise and collaborate online and on stage.

The project has received a comprehensive review in the Suddeutsche Zeitung (the main newspaper in Bavaria) by Anja Blum. it’s in German, of course, so for those who can’t read German, click here for an English translation of the article (PDF) and read excerpts below:

[T]he audience gains a deep insight into a highly exciting process

The analog stage is supplemented by a digitalised back wall. The wall functions as a screen on which, on the one hand, the chat with the online viewers can be seen, and on the other hand, a part of the letters, paintings, films, and even an avatar of Tangerding wandering across the large surface. Applause comes both from the can and from the seats, and the viewers at home send plenty of hearts and smileys.

Initially, Graziadei supplements Ott’s painting in real time with verses and word creations, and the audience is also called upon to “join in the poetry”. Inspired by the brushstrokes on the analog canvas, there is talk of the heart of darkness, of different colors, of the valley of sunshine. “It shines the world from the picture into the net – and now?” writes the invisible Graziadei. Later, Dzaack provides experimental, mostly spherical-breathy sounds; one sees his hands operating various devices, and at some point Ott begins to paint into the video. Abstract structures emerge, cables become independent, reality and fiction become blurred. Finally, the third act is performed by the two artists on site. Jacqueline invents one of her sensational spontaneous stories about an angry bird and the creation of the sun. Ott attempts to underline her words with digital art – attempts, because the painting program unfortunately doesn’t really want to play along most of the time.

[T]he evening is a challenge – for everyone involved. Keeping calm is the order of the day – and being attentive to those moments when the multi-layered new format works. Because there are certainly those. When artists inspire each other across genres. When sound and image develop a common pull. When supposed failure gives birth to unexpectedly humorous scenes. When boundless imagination makes one forget all limited technology. When touches happen, across space and time. Then a magic takes place that needs to be preserved and transformed so that it can work again on other evenings.