Platanaceae, –a, –um! — The last performance at the Saalbau

After the last performance, we made some photos in the Saalbau under the trees. While it was still light, I took photos of the suspended installation, and once it was dark, we moved things around, turned on some lights, got back in costumes and played around. After that we packed everything out and back into the van before early morning wine in my room. Sunday morning I was back to climb trees and strip all the rigging. Of course, it pelted us with rain. The drive back was long-ish, diverting off the Autobahn and onto Landstraßen, past forests and castles and hills. More photos!


Heppenheim & Starkenburg

Saturday morning I took off up the hill through vineyards and forests to Starkenburg. Yes, it rained.


Platanaceae, –a, –um! — Performing in the Rain

Much rain for the whole week in Heppenheim. The premiere rained out, the next day had even more rain but we performed anyway. Some photos from Friday.



Siegfriedstr. Wurms. Odenwald. Much Wagner. A late-evening Döner for dinner. We are in the Park Inn on the edge of the old town. The houses are 2-3 stories, whitewashed cut with a grid of dark-painted beams. Across the street from my window a vineyard creeps up the hill to the Starkenburg castle. The other direction wends through narrow streets to the museum and further to the two-spired, one-domed church. Breakfast and then to the cinema.

Originally we were to perform Platanaceae in a vast tree of that species, hence the name. That became not possible, and so a beautiful set of several Rosskastanie (Horse Chestnut) trees in the large courtyard of a neighbourhood cinema was proposed. We arrive at Saalbau (Lichtspiele seit 1910!) around 930, rain coming and going. Dasniya has already visited with Stephan, the Gassensensationen Festival artistic director, but for the other four of us it’s the first time. We meet a couple of the family who own and run the cinema, and over the day are gradually introduced to the many buildings and their history.

More rain. Pizza for lunch.

By the main driveway gate a long, low building commences, small square windows march along its length, each with soft peppermint green shutters. At the cinema end it meets a larger building, four sets of closely spaced windows long. I thought it might have been stables at first, but it was both too low and too narrow for that. The rain continues and we are shown in via a door at the farthest end from the street, offered the use of it to store our equipment and to warm up, stay out of the rain. It’s a single-lane, fully-mechanised bowling hall, the alley running the length of that long building, the larger one having tables and chairs, and on the walls photos crossing a century of groups of old men, the Polizei Pensionäre Kugelbahn Verein.

More rain and the Genie arrives. Dasniya and I throw slings and metal in and levitate to 8 metres above the ground, to begin hanging the ropes and building the installation. Still more rain and the others warm up inside while I enjoy the damp and navigate between several trees. The festival opens tomorrow and so far the weather gave us no respite in which to finish, let alone rehearse. We went for dinner to celebrate Dasniya’s birthday, echt Deutsche Küche und Wein at the vineyard across the street. Tomorrow is more rain. We’ll try to finish the rigging in the morning, the forecast though is noch schlimmer.



We left Berlin at 3pm. Van packed in the back with scores of ropes, carabiners, slings, metal, tools, puppets, props, costumes, poles, our own personal stuff, us two in the front two in the back. It rained as we packed and rained as we left. out of Berlin along Seestr, through Westend, through Grunewald, into the Brandenburg flatness. Somewhere south of Jena we turned west, into Thüringer Wald, forested hills topped with castles. We paused every couple of hours at Autobahn rest stops lined with trucks. Back on the Autobahn doing 140kmh in a Mercedes Sprinter, a steady rhythm in the left lane blasting by pushing 200.

Turning south again as the sun goes under, Frankfurt on the skyline, around that on the west side, another half an hour and we arrive in Heppenheim at our hotel.


Platanaceae, –a, –um! — Days 11 & 12

Yesterday was without Florian. Today day was the four of us. We made some photos in the garden at the far end of the Uferhallen Gelände. The new ropes arrived yesterday: 500 meters of hemp rope from Spain. Solène and I spent the hot part of the day dragging the half of that through rings to soften them up and get rid of some of the rope fibres and dust. Dasniya arrived with bags of stuff: a portable radio; a gas jet burner to scorch the ropes; an impact drill; bags of costume and prop materials, all towed on a trolley. Later we wandered through music and playing around in the middle section. I’m spending evenings watching The Legend of Korra.

Today all of us. Dasniya arrives with more stuff: a new compact camera and assorted accessories. We worked through the first section and into the crossover to the second. I made my costume: a jute sack from Spain with holes cut for head and arms and tied over the tutu with a rope. It’s hot, scratchy, dusty, and perfect for a troll. The puppets are making more of an appearance. I’ve discovered mine is a Kiwa hirsuta, otherwise known as the Yeti Crab. It’s beginning a conversation with the Tardigrade.

Then outside to the garden for photos. Only a trio as someone had to be the photographer, but there was time for a self-portrait.


Platanaceae, –a, –um! — Days 7-10

An audience of one makes a performance. A large box of ropes arrive from Spain. Once again we are looking for a tree (or trees). Most of the second week is gone.

Back in Alte Kantine Wedding all week, starting in the morning semi-early-ish around 930 for me with the toothbrushing routine of ankle, knee, misalignment salvage, then some abdominal bootcamp together, ballet barre, and on to the thing itself. Things have come and gone, been lost, re-found, made sense of, assembled, disassembled, come out the other side today with Cora – our audience of one – watching us hurtle through, and it seemed to work. Something troll-ish in it, trolls out working then making ballet, stopping for English breakfast, singing and hanging about, departing into troll ideas of amusement.

As well as the new rope, we also acquired several new slings and carabiners from Camp4, some things that might be costumes, possibly have enough, though Dasniya wants more of everything, just to be sure, and who am I to disagree when it comes to buying gear? Three more days in Berlin, then off to Heppenheim sometime on Monday.


Platanaceae, –a, –um! — Days 5 & 6

Friday in the Uferhallen Gelände; Sunday in Balhaus Ost. Friday we planned to rehearse north of the Uferhallen, amongst some trees along the S-Bahn line to Pankow. We got everything downstairs, on our bikes, and decided to go to the other end of the Hallen, more-or-less diagonally opposite. At the back end there’s a medium-sized garden with several fully-grown trees, grass, a table and chairs. Quiet, sunny and shaded, surrounded by hip-high wild grass.

I took off to the market before and came back with cheese and bread. No smoked fish this week, the weather is too warm. Next was getting a sling across a bough, and then some outside ballet in hiking boots. And foam tutus. Some dancing with tutus and tied-up arms. A pause for coffee and eating. More playing in the ropes. Singing. Singing and hanging. Me off to physio, then back. Hanging barely off the ground with the sun on us casting shadows across the grass.

Today in Balhaus Ost. Basteln. Making puppets out of foam from abandoned mattresses and sofas. Dasniya made a large, green Tardigrade (about the most impressive life-form around), wearing a spare tutu – it looks almost like a heat-shield on hippopotamus; Florian and Solène both also made puppets of similar strange creatures; I made a blobby, fronded, tentacled, eyeless and mouthless deep sea thing. We started by tying up the foam, then suspending it, then for me at least, hacking away and filling in the gaps with glue-gunned scraps – my first attempt at a Helmi puppet. These are all bagged up and arriving tomorrow for our return to Alte Kantine Wedding.

Platanaceae, –a, –um! — Days 2-4

The end of our first week in Alte Kantine Wedding – tomorrow we rehearse in the forest and Saturday at Balhaus Ost. Our days have something of a regularity now: for me, 45 minutes of dealing to my ankles, then we do together some bootcamp core training – very useful for suspensions – and then 45 minutes or so of a ballet barre.

Today Florian had brought the foam tutus from the Balhaus. I ended up with the green one I think of as “Mars Attacks! tutu” because it’s the one Dasniya (and others) wears in the flier for that show. We made today Goblins doing ballet. Goblins in foam tutus with arms tied up in ropes. I played Solène’s self-made contra-bass as they did pas de bourée, pas de basque, pique turns, and danced together. Later I messed around on my own with the former forest of ropes now collapsed into a very heavy mess. It feels better with the tutu (it also makes me feel like I’m in Isabelle Schad’s Der Bau but with ropes instead of fabric). It’s only a short work, around 30 minutes. (I’m having trouble stringing sentences together; here’s some photos:)