London-based performance group Bottlefed’s traveling production Hold Me Until You Break won one of the jury prizes at Berlin’s 100° festival this spring.
Bottlefed specializes in complex theatrical experiences, and this one is a striking examination of relationship dynamics: two couples try to hold themselves together, quite literally, in an all-too-tangible struggle until they break apart.
The piece is returning to Berlin for a one-night gig at the Sophiensaele on September 3.
Hold Me Until You Break changes every night – so what can the audience expect, really?
The music is improvised, and the ‘breaking’ of the couples is different every night with regards to duration – but the content remains the same: we’re dealing with love and the journey of a relationship. What audiences experience tends to depend on their way of engaging with the work: some focus on the tenderness and shared responsibility between the performers; some on the inevitability of breaking and gravity that will pull the performers to the ground sooner or later.
Where does this accompanying quote come from? “At the beginning there was the image of a woman holding a man until she breaks. We did it many times. We broke in many different ways.It always hurt.”
It comes from a personal experience of a relationship that, ultimately, didn’t work out. The concept and initial idea for Hold Me started with this image. We then took it into the studio to research and explore it further. The fact is that every relationship in which you invest a lot of love hurts sooner or later. Committing to someone – be it to a friend, family member or lover – always includes the risk of breaking, getting hurt, losing someone… I wanted to make a piece about love that is far from a love story, far from narrative, far from words. We wanted to find a way to dig into the subject in a minimal and visceral way that doesn’t spoon-feed the audience, but asks them to engage and reflect.
What was the performance at 100° festival like?
The audience engaged in a completely different way… Maybe it was due to the small space at Galerie Jarmuschek, but the performance was very intimate, and the audience verbally encouraged the performers when they got to ‘breaking point’, which had never happened before.
Have audience members ever tried to intervene physically?
No. Some wanted to – either to help out or to tell the couple to just let go – but they never did. It’s generally difficult to intervene with a relationship because it’s an intimate deal between two people, and it has its own dynamics. Within this performance setting, it’s no different.
HOLD ME UNTIL YOU BREAK | Sept 3, 21:00