Music theatre, Premiere 11.08.2022
Concertgebouw Brugge | MA Festival
‘t Zand 34, 8000 Brugge, België
With Elias Canetti's book Crowds and Power as a catalyst, director Wouter Van Looy and artist Wim Catysse zoom, with The Mass Man, in on man's relentless struggle against death as invincible power.
There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. [...] All the distances which men create around themselves are dictated by this fear.
With this statement, Elias Canetti opens his book Crowds and Power (1962).
In today's world, the masses are constantly on the rise, fueled by socio-political discontent. They crave or reject leadership, rally on social media, storm the Capitol, set cities ablaze when they unite in waves of uprisings, protests and revolutions, or flee to new environments when their habitat becomes untenable. They grow in number, seem unstoppable, only to disappear again, unannounced, into thin air.
Both phenomena portrayed by Canetti - the formation of crowds and the quest for power and ultimate rulership - seem inextricably linked in a complex and dynamic mechanism of survival strategies.
In an immersive scenography, audiences - strategically split into two seemingly opposing camps - are inundated with images Catrysse shot or collected on social media during a three-month artist residency in the West Bank. An area where humanity has been held hostage for decades by a relentlessly oppressive apparatus of power.
The musical part of The Mass Man, completed by Jurgen De bruyn and ensemble Zefiro Torna, contains a contemporary interpretation and arrangement of 11-13th century crusader songs.
The troubadours strikingly touch upon themes that also characterize our precarious times: religious and political propaganda in the service of geopolitical strategies, lust for power, corruption, disruption of social systems, migration and broken family ties, stigmatization, oppression and persecution of minorities, anti-democratic - irrational - reactions of the so-called threatened majorities, the genesis of a collective identity, the existential compulsion neurosis of anxiously clinging to the known - reinforced by the current pandemic - to the need to gain new experiences, explore unknown worlds and to meet the other.
Concept, direction: Wouter Van Looy
Concept, video: Wim Catrysse
Text: Elias Canetti, Peter Verhelst, Mahmoud Darwish
Production: Muziektheater Transparant and Zefiro Torna.
Co-production: DeSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge.
With the support of Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and the Flemish Government
Electronics/text: Jo Thielemans
Vocals/text: Timo Tembuyser, Els Mondelaers
Costumes: Ruby Renteurs
Lighting Design: Peter Quasters
Stage Design: Wim Catrysse, Peter Quasters
Jurgen De bruyn: Musical direction, lute, guiterne, electronics
Simon Seger: drums
Jon Birdsong: trumpet, cornetto
Jochem Baelus: sound installation
Concept and editing: Wim Catrysse
Co-production: MORPHO Antwerp, RAMALLAH Municipality, Music Theatre Transparant
With the support of the Flemish Government