Komische Oper, Staatsballett Berlin, 2017

Ballet: Nacho Duato
Music: Pedro Alcalde, Sergio Caballero, Richie Hawtin, Alva Noto and Mika Vainio
Scenography: Numen + Ivana Jonke

The starting point of research for the visual concept of “Earth” was Anthropocene - a contested new geological epoch marked by major human impact on the planet’s environment. Our set design addresses the topic of anthropogenic climate change by engaging some of its key tropes; increased atmospheric CO2, global warming, burnout of fossil fuels, plastic trash and the impending extinction of species. The distinct three phases of the set are aligned in order of apparent succession, starting with the end times and ending in post-human renewal.


In the first phase the entire stage is locked into a transparent plastic cube, defined by membranes running along its outer edges. The cube is suffused with condensation and slowly filling with thick aerosols suggesting a biosphere of a planetary body. This is a basic model for a closed ecosystem whose atmosphere sustains life, quite literally - a model for Earth. When the soft clouds of nitrogen and ozone and carbon dioxide reach the critical level, the structure will collapse leaving its inhabitants bare, exposed to the cosmos and the dark vacuum. The cube has open passages for entrance/exit and lighting on each side of the portal, but this remains invisible to the audience, for whom the system is seemingly sealed. The fourth wall is made of fully transparent plastic film while the rest of the membranes are a thicker, frostier foil, producing an ethereal, milky atmosphere within.




Once the transition point inside the cube is reached, enter next phase; an Euclidean 3D grid of blue laser beams silently invades the entire theatre space. The membranes of the cube collapse and the accumulated haze expands into the audience area, making the blue matrix clearly visible. The residue of plastic foil is evacuated through the side passages and the stage is left empty, with light vectors as the only remaining element, subverting everything to its cold, senseless geometry. This is a post-world stage marked by the sense of homelessness and inhuman detachment.




In the next image, in stark contrast to the abstract nature of the previous two - a life-size, hyperrealist fragment of primordial forest slides forward onto the edge of the proscenium - a breathing, living slice of real organic growth, almost touching the audience. This is the last scene and the New Earth. 



Photos by Tilen Sepič and Numen/For Use


Premiere 21.04.2017.



The making-of