The Children’s Emperor & The Pianist
CAMa - CENTRO DE ARTES DA MARIONETA
27 May at 9pm, 11.30pm and 00.00
28 May at 9pm, 10.30pm and 11pm
Concept, direction and performer: Mischa Twitchin Edition: Britt Hatzius Aknowledgements: Anne Haaning Technique: Mixed For audiences over: M/12 Time: 15 min. Language Without words Limited audience - Several sessions
The Children’s Emperor
Music: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5, ‘The Emperor’. Walter Gieseking, piano, Grosses Rundfunk Orchester, cond. Artur Rother (German radio broadcast, Berlin, January 23, 1945)
Text: Janusz Korczak, Wisdom for Parents (tr. T. Prount & A.H. Gorzelak) and Ghetto Diary (tr. J. Bachrach & B. Krzywicka)
Music: Chopin: Polonaise-Fantasie, op.61 - Wladislaw Szpilman, piano (Polish Radio broadcast, 1950); Zabczynski, Wiehler & Jurandot: Tak jak ty [Like you do] (from the 1936 film Ada, to nie wypada [Ada, that will never do], dir. Konrad Tom);
Szpilman: Mazurka - Wladislaw Szpilman, piano (Swedish radio broadcast, 1946)
Text: Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Pianist (tr. A. Bell)
Photographs: Warsaw taken by Adina Szwajger, Joe Heydecker and unknown others (1941-45).
In one of his interviews with Sylvère Lotringer, Heiner Müller recalls 'the terrifying phrase' of an eleven year old Jewish boy, written in an exercise book found beside his corpse after the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto: 'I want to be a German.' This expression of the desire for life, of wishing 'to be on the other side' in the confrontation with death, offers a terrible testimony to Walter Benjamin's warning, concerning the work of historical understanding, that 'even the dead will not be safe from the enemy.' Where history is understood as belonging to this enemy – one that 'has never ceased to be victorious' - the most tragic appeal of, and for, life appears through an identification with death. In a later interview with Lotringer, Müller declares (echoing Benjamin's own thoughts on memory): 'I don't believe photography is an instrument of memory. Language is memory and images are not. Images are too abstract... You don't remember the image, you remember your reaction to it. Memory is work, it's not something you can contemplate.' The light that moves in this pair of films evokes the fragility of a present memory, in counterpoint to the power of history. Although our knowledge of the past is mediated by images, what is our knowledge of these images? Or, in the terms of a vital question posed by Georges Didi-Huberman: 'how does the production of images participate in the destruction of human beings?'
This performance film is not simply the record of a live performance, with the camera substituting for the audience. In its use of the dissolve, it offers a transposition of the live performance into the temporality of film.
Mischa Twitchin is a dramaturg, lighting designer, deviser, lecturer, and a founder-member of the London-based theatre collective 'Shunt’ - whose work includes the award-winning Dance Bear Dance,Tropicana and Amato Saltone (the last two presented in association with the National Theatre.
Mischa studied philosophy at Warwick University (MA on Heidegger and Celan) and dramaturgy at Central School of Speech and Drama, and is currently working on his PhD on the 'Theatre of Death: the Uncanny in Mimesis' at Queen Mary College, University of London. He teaches theatre and critical theory at Goldsmiths College, the Central School of Speech and Drama, and the English Faculty, University of Cambridge. Besides his work with Shunt, he makes his own performances and is also a freelance lighting designer.