Theater: "Ophelia's Got Talent" - talent show with human aquarium

"Ophelia's Got Talent" - talent show with human aquarium

A woman sits in the staging "Ophelia's Got Talent" in a water container.  Photo: Nicole Marianna Wytyszak/Volksbühne/dp

A woman sits in a water tank in the production "Ophelia's Got Talent". photo

© Nicole Marianna Wytyszak/Volksbühne/dpa

At the opening of the season at the Berlin Volksbühne: the performance artist Florentina Holzinger deals with the myth of the mermaid.

With stories about mermaids, sirens and the Rhine mermaid Loreley many people grew up with. The performance artist Florentine Holzinger has now dealt with such legendary figures for the Berlin Volksbühne - and created a visually stunning spectacle. For "Ophelia's Got Talent" a pool of water was embedded in the stage floor and two aquariums set up for the dancers to swim in.

Holzinger comes from Austria and works with nude female ensembles. Their strong bodies perform a number of stunts. The "New York Times" just wrote about Holzinger, she pushes performers to the extreme - and the audience too. For example, in one scene, two women pierce their cheeks with fish hooks.

Warning against sexualised violence

Holzinger's production begins with a talent show, which will be moderated by Captain Hook. Before entering the auditorium, a trigger warning hangs on the wall. It warns against blood, needles, self-harm, strobe lights and descriptions of physical and sexual violence.

In the course of around two and a half hours, an ejaculating helicopter appears, swords and a camera are swallowed, Franz Schubert's "The Trout" and the story of Leda from Greek mythology are discussed, it's about rape and anorexia, self-love and the longing for self-destruction.

"Who sees through all the cheap theater tricks?"

According to the announcement of the piece, femininity has often been associated iconographically with water. "And with death: standing by the waveless pond it is synonymous with the domestication of female subjectivity, foam on the sea the result of her dissolution, a fishtail the image of her denied sexuality."

Holzinger's work was also announced as a "physical study on the psychology of water in the 21st century". A somewhat pompous title, which doesn't make a visit to the theater any less interesting. The evening consists of several episodes: sometimes a sailor's song, sometimes - one could read it like this - criticism of the destruction of nature. "Who sees through all the cheap theater tricks?" It says at one point. "We," shout the girls who are on stage.


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