– there is no why here – : Concept

The cathegories of "good" and "evil" seem well established in the collective perception of reality and are very often used in common language and in the description and interpretation of events. Most, if not all, religious leaders use them as a matter of fact; a number of social and political leaders regularly use the expression "absolute evil", for example referring to the Shoah; George W. Bush explicitely described the "war on terror" as "the war of good against evil"; countless other examples are available.

At a closer look, it seems eventually impossible to define an objective or at least collectively agreed definition of those cathegories. The good and evil of a context might represent a personal or subjective judgment, a societal norm, or either's claim to an absolute value related to the human nature or transcendent religious standard for that context. But the development of a global and intercultural society has highlighted the contradictions and the mutual incompatibility of different existing perceptions, showing how the traditional tools used to deal with this issue are not anymore appropriate.

We believe that the possibility of a paradigm shift on this issue is one of the most important tasks that the global community must achieve in the near future. A number of crucial initiatives were activated in the past: for example, after the end of World War II the creation of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were attempts to cope with the overwhelming consequences of that experience. More recently, the creation of the International Criminal Court in Den Haag can be seen as the groundbreaking project in this direction. Nevertheless, many Nations, including some of the most powerful and developed at a global level, still fundamentally question the jurisdiction of such entities, by claiming the highest priority of a territorial competence, particularly on justice and security.

The project can be divided into two parts. The first intends to deepen and to fundamentally question the traditional ways of perception in this domain. The goal is to address, following Hannah Arendt, „the fundamental problem of the nature and function of human judgement”: the critical point where the traditional ways of distinguishing between right and wrong, between good and evil, fail; the solitude of man in this condition, the ultimate necessity to assume responsibility. This failure takes place precisely in the situation where this ability to distinguish would be most useful: when the very definition of the essence of the human condition is at stake.

The second part, particularly the last scene, does not intend to provide a solution to the problem. The goal is rather to dynamically give voice to a multitude of different, multilayered contributions, without attempting to resolve the contradictions; to allow the complexity of the issue to be expressed and perceived; ultimately, to implement and to highlight the state of the art, without being afraid of its confusing, puzzling complexity. A crucial element in this section will be the transition from the personal and individual perspective to the collective one.

The title is taken from “If This Is A Man” by Primo Levi: it is the answer he received from a guard in Auschwitz who snatched an icicle from him that he wanted to melt to quench his thirst. We feel that this sentence is particularly appropriate for the project as a whole: on one side, it resumes the failure of the traditonal ways to deal with the issue, discarded by an unprecedented series of events; on the other side, it recognizes this stand as a starting point for the elaboration of a different, common system of values.

We choose to implement a non-narrative, non-fictional dramaturgy. The flow of the performance is thus created through a continuous sequence of musical-theatrical moments, each one freely and associatively approaching one or more aspects of the theme, connected through a non-narrative but linear dramaturgy. Different materials – texts from different sources, audiovisuals contributions, live connections with other locations - closely linked to the main theme, will be worked out in the dramaturgy and inserted into the theatrical language.

In general, it is not our intention to offer to the audience any kind of "statement", in any part of the performance. Our task is to develop an emotional, non-verbal and immediate (i.e. non-mediated, direct) theatrical language which intends to be capable to catch the attention and the perception of the audience on an associative and intuitive rather than rational level. A specific and innovative approach to the possibilities of multimedia and of new technologies of communication is a particularly important element. Different synchronized video sources, projecting for example the live images from video cameras on stage and external webcams, will create an organic counterpoint to the music, the text and the theatrical performance. The video contents will be integrated in the music composition and will be part of the orchestral score.

Particularly important will be the theatrical characterization of external locations, chosen according to their relevance to the main theme of the project. Audiovisual contributions of different types, live and pre-recorded, will reach the performance venue from those locations, and will be inserted into the musical and theatrical composition. The video contributions will be physically played by the performers. A specific multimedia software (MeRit), developed by Holger Stenschke at the ZKM in Kalrsruhe, will allow the musicians to musically interact with the audiovisual material: the video becomes an instrument.

Andrea Molino, Giorgio van Straten / October 2012