Sad Sam Matthäus

Premiering at Wiener Festwochen in 2021

After a series of successful projects entitled “Sad Sam”, a collaborative effort between the dramaturge Goran Ferčec and Matija Ferlin resumes with the stage exploration of the relationship between choreography, speech, narrative and performance, deconstructing Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental oratory St. Matthew Passion.

The long-time idea of staging Bach’s St. Matthew Passion as a performance for a single performer and recording is potent in its stage hybridity as it establishes a dialogue between the music and the performative, dance and theatre, the canonical and the personal.

The widely known Passion Narrative provides a preliminary impulse for Ferlin and Ferčec to look into the position of the performing subject and the body that can no longer maintain the activity it once performed with, turning into a body of suffering or passion. What does the body do once it is no longer capable of performing all the tasks it took upon itself? What is the point when the limitation turns into a possibility? What happens if the idea of performance outdoes the possibilities of bodily action?

This piece expands on the theme of death, suffering, temptation, carnality, the relationship between the individual and the society, betrayal and forgiveness, using personal narratives and a metaphysical exploration of the complicated and harrowing deaths in Ferlin’s family. A wide symbolic corpus established thereby blurs the line between the probable and the impossible, the rational and the intuitive, the invented and the real. It is an escape from the banality of death and limitation of life, a small insight into the beyond, small passions and temptations of common people. The narratives are interrelated both through the theme of death and through a metaphysical layer of the story resulting from the desire to see passion, temptation, even death, through a lens more complex than the existential materialistic fear of the inevitable.

The choreographic corpus of the piece has been established both as a reading of the music and narrative structure of Bach’s passion and as an independent element whose stage logic integrates all external elements into the canonical text of the gospel, choosing not to intervene into Bach’s structure and keep its integrity.

The performance venue is an important element of the overall stage design of the project. Rather than perceiving space as a mere venue, the authors consider it to be a kind of “museum”, a place that safekeeps a particular type of holdings whose very presence “performs” and sustains the performance at the same time. It is a space brimming with the most diverse artefacts; a museum of things, a museum of narratives, a museum of movements, a museum of voice, a museum of choreography, a museum of resonances from past works in the Sad Sam series related to the ideas of suffering, temptation and forgiveness.

Seeing that the recordings of Bach’s monumental piece last from 150 to 220 minutes, the performance of Sad Sam Matthäus also actively explores the concept of duration as the connecting togetherness in suffering. Duration thus becomes one of the fundamental elements of the performance, as important as dance, language, music or space; for duration is a challenge, both for Ferlin the performer and for the audience as witnesses of the performance.

COLLABORATORS . Direction, choreography, performance Matija Ferlin . Dramaturgy Goran Ferčec . Set design, props Mauricio Ferlin . Sound design Luka Prinčič . Light design, technical direction Saša Fistrić . Costume Desa Janković, Matija Ferlin . Direction assistance Rajna Racz . Graphic design Tina Ivezić . Translations Danijela Bilić Rojnić (cro-eng), Katja Kosi (eng-slo) . Production management Maja Delak . Production assistance Sabrina Železnik . Executive production: Silvija Stipanov . With music by Johann Sebastian Bach Mätthaus Passion, BWV 244

SUPPORT . Production Emanat (SI), Matija Ferlin (HR) . Co-production : Wiener Festwochen (DE), CND Centre national de la danse (FR) . Partners :  Istarsko narodno kazalište – Gradsko kazalište Pula (HR), Mediteranski plesni centar Svetvinčenat (HR), Bunker / Stara mestna Elektrarna – Elektro Ljubljana (SI) . With support of : Zagrebačko kazalište mladih (HR) . Financial support: Ministrstvo za kulturo RS, Mestna občina Ljubljana, Grad Pula