Pierrot lunaire

Welcome back Shopper! Please enjoy today item idem's take on German Expressionism (namecoded “Merzbau on Steroids") within the set design & art direction for Bruce LaBruce's staging of Arnold Schoenberg's iconic PIERROT LUNAIRE! Four representations were performed in march 2011 at the Hebbel Am Ufer (HAU) theater in Berlin, about a 1000 happy customers! Read about it in BUTT, Whitewall, & i-D Magazines!

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Three Times Seven Poems from Albert Giraud‘s

by Arnold Schönberg

Directed by Bruce LaBruce & conducted by Premil Petrovic.
Dramaturgy by Laura Berman.

Starring Susanne Sachsse & Luizo Vega.

Art direction by item idem & costume design by Zaldy.

Premiere on March 6th, also showing from March 08th to 10th.

06.03.2011 / 19.30 UHR 
08.03.2011 / 19.30 UHR 
09.03.2011 / 19.30 UHR 
10.03.2011 / 19.30 UHR 

HEBBEL AM UFER – HAU 1Stresemannstr. 29 / 10963 BerlinBerlin, Germany

The character of Pierrot goes back to 16th century commedia dell’arte. In the course of time Pierrot first changed from an insensible rogue to an ingenious, but tormented figure that is buried in its bizarre inner world, then to a daydreaming character, prone to boredom and violence, effeminate, in love and insane. In 1911 the actress Albertine Zehme asked the composer Arnold Schönberg to set to music part of the Pierrot Lunaire-poems by the Belgian Albert Giraud: For five musicians and a female singer Schönberg arranged 21 of the approximately 50 poems to become one of his ground-breaking works for music theatre.

The concept for the production by Bruce LaBruce (with Susanne Sachsse as Pierrot) is grounded in Schönberg’s understanding of cabaret like Grand Guignol and Chat Noir in Paris. The latter’s vision of Pierrot Lunairetook him to a dreamworld, full of “decadent longing, guilt, rapture and fear”, endowed with horror scenarios and the ironical-satiric humour of Grand Guignol.

“While I listened to the music of Arnold Schönberg I tried to associate a concept that would match well with the mood of his atonal music on the one hand, and on the other hand could be combined with the poems byAlbert Giraud in a more contemporary context. From the jungle of thoughts of my unconscious rose a story that is supposed to have happened decades ago in Toronto, and that is both odd and universal (the Oedipus- and castration-complex are obvious). This story can even stand its ground next to the tragedies of the old Greeks or those of Shakespeare. A young girl that regularly dresses as a boy (just think of ‘As you like it’ or ‘The Merchant of Venice’) falls in love and seduces a young girl that has no clue that her lover has the same sex. When the girl introduces ‘her boyfriend’ to her father he becomes skeptical and unmasks the fraud. Even though, strangely, the feelings of the girl persist without shifting, the father does not allow them to ever see the other again. Furious and delusional the ‘boy’ develops an adventurous plan to prove his true ‘masculinity’ to the father of his lover.” (Bruce LaBruce)


With Maria Ivanenko, Boris Lisowski, & Krishna Kumar Krishnan.

Jana Ackun (piano), Raphael Christ (violin), Miguel Pérez Iñesta (clarinet), Chloé L’Abbé (flute), Andreas Voss (cello).

In co-production with HAU, sponsored with funds from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.

Item Details
item idem's 2nd collaboration with Bruce LaBruce, 2011.

4 nights, 1 massive stage, Several months of work, about 1000 delighted customers.

March 2011
"I tried few paths, first obsessing about a mirrored castle sculpture that Michael Jackson used to own. Then I looked at classical German Expressionism — like Murnau’s Nosferatu, or Fritz Lang’s M — which were the obvious key references. But I also turned to traditional arts like Butoh and Bunraku, who enhanced my Japanese way of understanding what I conceived of as expressionist minimalism. Also some rare Schönberg drawings, early Keith Haring paintings, or movies from the ’80s and ’90s such as Tron, Hellraiser, or Twin Peaks. Finally, I was inspired by the contemporary makeup artist Alex Box and indulging myself in low-key video games from my childhood. In the end it’s like looking down at abyss and falling. I actually call it “Merzbau on Steroids,” based on Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau. The whole thing is largely rendered in black and white with reflective tape adding another dimension."
item idem in BUTT Magazine, March 2011.
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