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Dasniya Sommer: The Männy

Something Dasniya Sommer has been working on for an age and I really wanted to see her première (thanks poverty): The Männy at Staatstheater Hannover. Really, she’s gone to another realm of hectic with her rope work.

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Berlin is not Bayreuth. Vol. 1: Tannhäuser

Das Helmi on tour, all the way out east to Lichtenberg, in the shallow parabola of northern Rummelsberg right by S-Nöldnerplatz, where the rails form a curved triangle around the old railway workshops backing onto the roundhouse and railway turntable to the east, now typically Berlin ateliers and halfway to forest of the B.L.O. Ateliers.

Festival time. Wagner festival time. Berlin is not Bayreuth. Vol. 1. Six hours of Tannhäuser spread across at least four stages, meandering through the dishevelled brick and concrete buildings and fastigiate black poplars charging thirty metres into the dark, cloudless evening sky. Peter Frost wrecking it singing dodgy Schlagermusik, Cora Frost doing the same as a Pope to ruin The Young Pope. glanz&krawell (I think) working their way through the long shouty bits with proper opera singing. Das Helmi with their always always glorious, monstrous, chaotic stagings, scaring off people who though it was going to be, y’know, opera, culture and shit, instead of what the fuck is happening here, how did I find myself on stage slapping a stranger’s arse with twelve other people doing the same I should’a left when the Pope started kissing people’s feet kinda thing.

Mad thanks to Dasniya Sommer for getting me in, reminding me of a Berlin I utterly love, deeply pagan and animist, rough as guts and no intention of ever changing.

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10 Years With Dasniya In Berlin

We went and saw Mission Impossible: Fallout and laughed for 2½ hours at the brilliant kinetic absurdity: Tom Cruise, part of the Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton lineage of getting audiences to pay stacks to watch them do mad stunts. We ate chocolate and ice cream and nachos – cinema nachos! – and drunk Sekt. In the Kino. This is Germany and everywhere is drinking erlaubt. Ten years today, ago Dasniya and I met in her Fabrik studio in Uferstraße.

Dasniya Sommer — “Bondage Duell” At Sophiensæle Again

Dasniya Sommer’s banger, Bondage Duell is on again at Sophiensæle, part of Performing Arts Festival Berlin 2018, one of my favourite performances from last year, which I wrote about and photographed. It’s already on, two more nights, get your arse there.

Shibari & Kinbaku Classes in February with Dasniya Sommer

Three different classes with Dasniya Sommer this month in Berlin-Wedding, all on Tuesdays:

For more info, email Dasniya on workshops@dasniyasommer.de, message her on Facebook, and check out her Instabanga while you do (& sign up to her mailing list)

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My Ideal Future …

… is where Altered Carbon‘s Lizzie Elliot knifes the entire patriarchy in the throat.

Showcase Beat Le Mot — Super Collider, at HAU2

Second show of the week, and the one I’m seeing first: Showcase Beat Le Mot’s Super Collider at HAU2, with Dasniya Sommer doing rope stuff.

Showcase Beat Le Mot — Super Collider
HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin (HAU2)

  • Sun 10.12.2017, 19:00
  • Mon 11.12.2017, 19:00
  • Tue 12.12.2017, 19:00
  • Wed 13.12.2017, 19:00

Laser pointers write “Game Over” in the sky. The performers of Showcase Beat Le Mot do not want to waste any electricity on apocalyptic resignation but instead to expand the frame of discourse to include outer space. That’s why in their new performance they’re sending danced messages and mumbled formulas into the outskirts of the universe. “True, beautiful and good were sought, skewed, quirky and helpful were found.” The antennas for the extra-terrestrial messages are switched from receiving to sending. This is not documentary theatre about the powerlessness to act in a surging reality but an experiment that works like a utopian slingshot. The stage setting is the message, the audience the amplifier. Space acts instead of fake facts. Always alongside trouble. Welcome to the half-truth about everything.

Concept, Space, Text, Realisation: Showcase Beat Le Mot
Shibari: Dasniya Sommer
Sound/Music: Sebastian Meissner
Costumes: Clemens Leander
Video: Alexej Tschernij
Light: Klaus Dust
Movements: Nina Kronjäger
Stage construction: Jörg Fischer
Production: Olaf Nachtwey & Johanna J. Thomas
Thanks to: Alexander Djuric and Etel Adnan

Hamlet: Das Helmi & Dasniya Sommer in Korea

The Helmis on tour. Two weeks in South Korea running around festivals performing a solo of Hamlet. A solo with two people. And puppets. And bondage.

Das Helmi in South Korea

After 10 Years we are back…

In 2007 Das Helmi toured the show Arsenic and Old Lace in South Korea and also made puppets for another group, it was all strange and beautiful…

..Now its going to happen again!!

5 Years ago Florian bumped into Master Lee in Pappelallee and he invited him to do a Hamlet solo… Five years later the plan is coming into reality, that’s how theatre can work!

So, Florian is going to perform Hamlet, a Ghoststory in South Korea this summer! With one Helmi (Florian) and a ballerina (Dasniya Sommer) playing all the Hamlet characters. The whole story is condensed into 45 Minutes full to the brim with Emotions, Surprises, Attitudes, Plot Twists and Musical Treats…

It’s like a game of chess in a head of a maniac!

It will be performed on ( sometimes 2 shows a day):
31st of July-1st of Aug. Gijang Festival
3rd and the 4th of Aug. Miryang Festival
6th and the 7th of Aug. Geochang Festival
And from the 8th to the 13th of August there is a Puppet Workshop in Gijang. The workshop will be used to make puppets for a production of Animal Farm from Master Lee.

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Dasniya Sommer & Silke Schönfleish — Bondage Duell

Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, I had the great pleasure of seeing Dasniya Sommer’s new performance, Bondage Duell, with Silke Schönfleisch at Sophiensæle. I was there to photograph and film, so saw the performance as a series of movement between the real world, camera screen and intercut with frozen images and instances of blackness. It’s always a weird way to see a performance and detaches me from the actual duration and progression of a work.

Bondage Duell is in Sophiensæle’s Kantine, a medium-sized rectangular chamber on the ground floor, in which Dasniya has set the audience in a shallow arc, like theatre half-in-the-round, on the long axis. Everything is compressed, as audience we’re much closer to Dasniya and Silke than we would be if the space was arranged more conventionally, using the depth. Their movement then, is side to side, long, flattened ellipses.

It’s brutal, touching, sexy, intimate; there’s a whiteout of fog, an audio landscape going from cars (courtesy our annual visits to the shrine of Fast & Furious) to cicadas, light moving from ’90s techno to blinding footlights to the softest, haziest, dreamlike seduction. Yes, there’s rope and shibari and suspension, these are after all what Dasniya has made her art for over a decade. Silke also, first coming to her workshop in Vienna at ImPulsTanz in 2014, and since then gradually working together and towards this performance, fitting it around her career as a Regierungsdirektorin in Berlin and formerly Staatsanwältin with the Bundesjustizministerium (that’d be currently a senior government official, and previously public prosecutor at the German Federal Ministry of Justice), basically deeply scary person when at work.

Dasniya’s last performance in Sophiensæle was MA — let’s give it it’s full and proper title, eh? — MA√ 15 { idiosyncrasy } || sin x = ly – fx²¯ in 2009, all turquoise everything, one of the most significant works bringing shibari into theatre and dance, certainly a huge influence on shibari and performance in Berlin, and particularly for trans and queer artists (especially on the women and feminine sides of those things). That was eight years ago, and the rest of the world has made inroads into catching up to what she was doing then — there’s a lot of brilliant art and performance being made with shibari these days. Dasniya’s also moved on, in addition to her own work, working with the likes of Roméo Castellucci, and being a long-time regular with Berlin theatre group, Das Helmi, which in turn has led to semi-regular collaboration with Zürich’s Theater HORA, as well as slowly and very determinedly taking and forming her ideas around rope, shibari, bondage, ballet, also queerness, feminism, femininity, representation, selfhood, her own history as both German and Thai. Anyone who’s seen what she’s been up to in recent years (like smaller performances in festivals like Männer in Garagen) will recognise what’s going on here.

It’s tough, and I don’t mean just the physical brutality of Dasniya and Silke tormenting each other. Obviously I’m biased as I’ve known her for as long as I’ve lived in Berlin, and I like the work of my friends, nonetheless Bondage Duell is doing what interests me in performance. It’s not passing off superficial, trashy, glib, cool, disposable politicising; it skates dangerously along the kerb with imagery that causes discomfort not just on the stage (like the nude paint orgy scene did in the Helmi/HORA collaboration, Mars Attacks!), and at the end I’m like, “Fuck yeah, that was brilliant.” It’s a little like Melanie Lane’s Wonderwomen, or Iain M. Banks’ Culture civilisation, it’s something to aspire to, a future we are making now.

In the end I saw the generale, première, and closing nights, so I saw the performance evolve over this short season, and some of this evolution was considerable. I know Silke and Dasniya talked through various things and were much more willing to take mutually tormenting each other to places where it became disturbing for the audience to watch, which in turn allowed them to revel in causing that unpleasantness. Whether to laugh or be outraged, they’d already moved on by the time we’d formulated a response. It was the gentleness I noticed as well, how they moved together, how completely confident and knowing each other as they mirrored each other’s movement while dressed only in pink and black lingerie, spontaneously growing in beautiful, tender ways. I loved also how the audience was both shocked and in love, how they were battered back and forth by the continual flipping of these states; by the end it was like they stunned.

So, photos. This is a mix from the generale and première, a mix which conveniently turned out to cover each other’s missed spots, so forms a patchwork of the whole (well, most of, there’s a few surprises yet). It is a patchwork though. As usual, I took hundreds of photos, kind of brute-forcing the limits of my camera in low light and fog to capture something. I ended up with about a hundred I really liked, which together convey the work more faithfully than these do, these which in the end are a somewhat arbitrary choice.