Christian Probst

Bern, Schweiz
Biography · Moosetrail
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Moose Trail

The traces that the „moose“ leaves behind embody a few formative influences that - as far as they effect from outside – may be named.

My comprehension and idea of human nature has been determined by my childhood with a mentally disabled sibling and the experience of a foreign culture trough my mothers’ origin. My father on the other hand opened up to me the world of architecture – of space. Theatre understood as a sphere that defines these two things – human nature and space – in real time, may explain my early recognition to have found my playing field and is the central starting point within my work until today.

My love for language leaded me to the studies of German language and literature whereas in the 80’s the theory of reception was “en vogue”. This theory transferred to theatre gave an ideal superstructure for my early attempts of the interaction audience – performance. Simultaneously confronted with the reality of the Municipal theatre of Berne (as an assistant director) and that time icons Stein, Peymann, Bondy and Zadek my contradiction emerged: Might there be more to theatre than representation? What situation occurs if people gather together and perform something out of mankind history? A struggle for knowledge began.

First of all I took leave of that time state theatre aesthetics by staging them to extremes. Maleine (1992) reconstructed the representation-machinery in a pocket format and intended to extend the stage onwards the audience and vice versa. Getting only a hint of success I tried in my next attempt to give up this division completely. Trust the process (1993) played in all four sides of the room and represents my first genuine ritual (an inauguration). I discovered the possibility to bring non-actors into performance situations (speaker fig. 1) and extended this idea in my author-performances Alles ist AbsIch (All is I-tentional 1998) and Einspeisen (Feed 2000).

How far could I go with my audience? What agreements were compelling? What situations could I put them onto? Jugend ohne Gott (Youth without God 1995) created a performance-situation in which the frontiers to the audience-area disappeared and it even wasn’t clear where and when the play began (see also fig. 2). That it was followed by Transcend the bullshit, a performance that refused to any agreement with the audience has probably just a certain importance for my personal experience.

Philoktet (Philoctetes 1997) interpreted the Old Slaughterhouse as a cultic place (fig. 3). Any technical equipment and the grandstand had to disappear. The audience was forced to search its place in between the sandstone walls and to take responsibility for their point of view.

As I had staged Maeterlincks Maleine (published 1889) in a Dome from 1899 that represents the period of great economic expansion with its Eiffel tower aesthetic and Jugend ohne Gott within the atmosphere of an old Anatomy lecture hall, I expanded the idea of time-travelling in Philoktet onto the textual level. The structural foil of Sophokles (that borders to pre-written culture) brought Heiner Müllers modern interpretation back to its archaic roots.

A further time-travel was realised with Einspeisen, where I reconstructed the setting of the legendary “Junkere 37” after Franz Gertschs famous Painting with todays authors as a “tableaux vivant”, or with Casanova cleansing (1998) that was happening in a house that could have been frequented by Casanova during his stay in Berne. The possibility to learn from history and the possibility to resurrect History trough spaces or objects mark another principle of my work.

In Habgier (Greed 2002) my intention was to put up a travel trough 500 years of (Liberalism-) history by using original sources in a chronological way towards a better understanding of today issues. In between industrial scrap and illuminated by light machinery from every epoch starting with candles.

Gier (Crave 2001, Fig. 4) and Tod – Der Ackermann aus Böhmen (Death and the Ploughsman 2005, Fig. 5) show the attempt to occupy spaces that belong to the ritual. It was in a certain way the reclamation of these cultic places that gave birth to theatre. The agreements of the theatrical act are expanded to the dimension of the divine and the finite in a very concrete manner. Who is going to the show here is affected.

Was it in one case a courageous contemporary play, shows the other script out of the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment (1401) my confidence in old knowledge. Where Johannes von Tepl (or von Saaz) failed to speak, we have to remain silent.

Work in progress:

"Platero und Ich" (Platero and I) by Juan Ramon Jimenez: a Spanish modernist play to be staged in an old cowshed in Berne with a real donkey in may 2006.

In the planning stage: "Jeff Koons" by Rainald Goetz: a play about Art, an artists live and art business to be staged in December 2006 at the Kunsthalle Bern.

"Haller": a project on an 18th century scientist, poet and politician from Berne to be staged in 2008 at the Municipal theatre of Berne

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