Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Like A Prayer: Corinne Maier @ Edfringe 2017

Like A Prayer

Producer Franziska Schmidt
Directed and written by Corinne Maier
Performers Julia Bihl and Johannes Dullin
Edinburgh Fringe C venues; C South 20th - 28th Aug 20:00 - 21:30 £11.50 (Full Price) £9.50 (Concession) £7.50 (Under 18)

In St. Joseph Monastery in Switzerland there is a Franciscan Cloister where six sisters lead a life of prayer and faith. But what does that mean? How do people have such closely held beliefs in things they can’t prove? Why has the way we believe and what we believe in changed so much that this abbey’s numbers have dwindled to just six?

What was the inspiration for this performance?

It was a very personal encounter with my best friend who had moved to Mexico shortly before it. I visited her and she told me about a direct encounter she had with “God“. 

I couldn’t accept that and we had a lot of discussions until I realised that the main question was not, if I believed in God in the same way as she did or not, but if I still believed in our friendship even after she had changed her views.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes, I think so. In performance ideas can be discussed, presented and be contemplated not only in a rational but also in a non-judgemental, emotional and subjective way. That’s why I think it is very important to keep and cultivate that space.
How did you become interested in making performance?

I fell in love with the atmosphere of theatre as a teenager. When I saw actors on stage I wanted to go there as well. I wanted to create magic atmospheres and touch people, as simple as that. 

Then I was part of a youth theatre company in Basel where they took the young people and worked with them very seriously. A lot of former group members are theatre and performance professionals now.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We went to a monastery for a research week before the rehearsals began and came back from it with a lot of material - on tape and in our heads. 

We work with this material in the show, so the audience will also get insights into the life of that monastery. That’s, I guess, why it could also be called a ‘documentary performance’.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes, although the subjects and the approaches are different from production to production, I am always interested in a ‘real life’ subjects or people and look for a way to deal with it in a theatrical way on stage.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope that the audience will experience a lot of inspiring questions that arise in their minds. I hope they will follow the thoughts and stories of our protagonists (on stage and on screen) with interest and survey their own ‘status quo’, concerning the mentioned questions.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Actually, I did not try to shape a specific experience of the audience, but my aim was to create an open mental space and a frame where every member of the audience could create their own experience.

Like A Prayer tells the story of Julia, played by Julia Bihl, who meets an old friend but struggles with the discovery of their new found faith in Jesus. Julia must battle with her own preconceptions and judgements about what religion and belief are in order to truly understand and accept her friends choices.

In this thought provoking work, acclaimed Swiss documentary theatre maker, Corinne Maier tries to answer these questions and more as she examines faith, religion, and the connection between faith and enlightenment.

Diving into the personal and profound, this multimedia performance uses interviews with the actual nuns living in St. Joseph’s Monastery as Maier’s two performers, Julia Bihl and Johannes Dullin, explore their own beliefs and what a call to a higher power could mean in this day and age.

Founded in 2017 and based in Basel, Switzerland, ProductionsDOCK supports artists to make contemporary and insightful dance and theatre. In her new production Like A Prayer, Corinne Maier makes her return to Basel after winning the audience prize for Selberdenken, Sitten! in 2013.

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