On their 100. performance of ‘Kitchen’ at the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin Gob Squad performers led the audience to their seats along an unusual pathway. We entered the auditorium from just one of the many doors and had to cross the stage set from left to right before plunging through the long rows of seats from right to left only. On the journey the performers engaged random people in conversations and there was plenty of need to communicate and negotiate seatings with fellow audience members in consequence. (Gob Squad 2011)
The structured improvisation theatre performance was based on the movie ‘kitchen’ by Andy Warhol and the whole downstage was covered by a projection screen. Sitting in the audience we watched the projections of performers conversing and moving in the stage set -a bedroom, a kitchen and a sitting room- behind the screen and edges of the physical set that were peeking out. (Gob Squad 2011)
During the show performers occasionally exited the movie and the 60’s respectively and negotiated the social changes between then and now. Later on, also performance members were chosen to interact filling screen test seats and sleeping roles on the set and thereby engaged in the performance structure. (Gob Squad 2011)
The whole set-up made me connect it to the body-theoretical construct of Merleau-Ponty’s inner and outer horizons (Merleau-Ponty 2002) under the aspect what distinguishes people’s relation to movies in comparison to theater performances. In the case of movies and projections there is no direct relation between audience and performers, but one intermediated respectively distorted by the camera, cut and projection settings. And it is this mediation that is more and more appreciated in theatre performance and that I personally find distracting and estranging from theatre. But maybe this is exactly what Gob Squad is getting at?
© Malin Gebken