The New Man.
Four Excercises in utopian Movements.
Doing is better than feeling. Bertolt Brecht
After the shock of the First World War and the final breakdown of the bourgeois concept of art, very different artists looked for a new function for their art, searching for a new relation to life and society. This modernist impulse is buried under the experience of facism and the repression of stalinism. LIGNA’s performance The New Man explores three different positions - with a fourth which cuts across the others.
The poet Bertolt Brecht develops the Lehrstueck for a state without classes, where the gestures, social postions and by that the society as a whole come into play. The dancer Rudolf von Laban proposes Bewegungschoere, choirs of movement, in which the collective vibrations disperse power itself. The director Wsewolod Meyerhold experiments in the young Sowjet Union with biomechanical exercises for his actors to renew their bodies and by that shape a new kind of subjectivity. Finally the comedian Charlie Chaplin stumbles across all of these utopian visions and their promises.
The New Man is a performance without actors and stage. There is nothing to see except for the activity of the visitors. They are listening to a radio play, that not only deals with the four aesthetic positions mentioned above, but proposes gestures and movements according to the different blueprints of the new man. But the audience is not listening to the same things at the same time. It is is split up into four groups. For fifteen minutes each group is listening to one of these positions, then their program is changing and their role is transferred to another group. In the end every group of listeners will have tested and quoted every attitude. They play the same play four times with different roles, being actors and viewers at the same time. The New Man calls for turning the production of gestures and movements into a public, collective affair.
The New Man is a play in the third person, exploiting the iterability of the gesture and thus reconsidering the aesthetical paradigms of Brecht’s Lehrstueck. The hope that all social institutions could come into play, which is scattered under present circumstances, is kept alive in a dispersed way between the different positions of the play.
(The piece exists in geman and english)
(The New Man in the Beirut Arts Center, September 2009)