PREMIERE: Hello to Emptiness // MOUVOIR / Stephanie Thiersch // 16/04/22 // Greek National Opera, Athen

PREMIERE: Hello to Emptiness // MOUVOIR / Stephanie Thiersch // 16/04/22 // Greek National Opera, Athen

„All these losses are grievable, which means that they are lives worthy of acknowledgement, equal in value to every other life, a value that cannot be calculated.” (Judith Butler, ‘Mourning is a Political Act’, 2020)

HELLO TO EMPTINESS is a performative reflection on social vulnerability and on how to deal with grief. Based on pre-ancient laments, the Greek moiroloi (μοιρολόγια, engl. “speech about fate”), director and choreographer Stephanie Thiersch and five musicians and dancers develop a poetic space in where ancient laments and traditional rituals are revived and transferred into new contexts. How have climate change, species extinction and ongoing wars shaped our form of lamenting and mourning? How has the pandemic changed the way we look at and think about loss? What value do we, as a community, ascribe to life and what spaces do we create to mourn for this life?

The multi-faceted cast includes Greek musician and singer Martha Mavroidi, Ukrainian singer and musician Mariana Sadovska, Spanish dancer and countertenor Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, French dancer and countertenor Julien Ferranti, French dancer, singer and musician Manon Parent, and dramaturg Stawrula Panagiotaki. The team sets out in search of the lost knowledge of mourning rituals. A “choir of elders” supports, comments on or twists the chants and images, connecting darkness with light, lightness with wit. With their knowledge of different cultural techniques, the contributing artists combine songs and rites from the Balkans and other regions to create an evening that traces the intimacy and, at the same time, the communal and unifying nature of the laments, and makes tears dance.

“Loss becomes condition and necessity for a certain sense of community, where community does not overcome the loss, where community cannot overcome the loss without losing the very sense of itself as community.”
Judith Butler, Loss, ‘The politics of mourning’, 2003)

Parallelly to the stage performance, the installation VOICES OF LAMENTS will be created in which we will interweave audiovisual documentary material from different regions of the world (Greece, Korea, Kenya, Brazil) in collaboration with local actors (the “satellites”). Our artistic satellites form independent research and production cells with jointly defined questions. It is a structural attempt to develop international models of cooperation at eye level, with which we support the approach to a common world mourning.

“How does the death of a loved one change me? / What gives comfort? / What is a good death? / If death is a sound, what would it sound like? / When does dying begin?”

The online magazine SYBL complements HELLO TO EMPTINESS. SYBL allows everyone around the world to share thoughts and inspirations about grief, which we in turn gratefully integrate as inspiration for piece development. Join us!