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A different kind of darkroom

Go play in the dark! In "Now I Lay Me Down", director Sabrina Hölzer of the formidable ensemble Kaleidoskop allows us to enter into a very intimate experience with music – in complete blackness. On at Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Jan 8-11, 15-18.

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Photo by Ladislav Zajac
Everything has been made to make us feel comfortable. At the entrance, thick socks and blankets are distributed, and we enter the concert room with neither shoes nor bags. Every spectator gets their own space, a bed-shaped raised piece of land with grass to lie down on. The musicians play, walking in the aisles among us. The lights go slowly down and gradually we are in complete darkness. The sensorial experience begins. Opening our eyes, we see nothing, but the notes coming from different parts of the room eventually transform into mental images. The grass and the blanket smell like a summer camp. We have nothing to watch and are not being watched either: the perfect liberated spectator experience. This combination of factors – darkness, loneliness, a comfortable position – allows us to enter a very intimate experience with the music. A typical practice for the formidable ensemble Kaleidoskop, which since 2006 has been working on unconventional ways of staging classical and contemporary music. “The darkness is an element of the work, as the instrumentation is a component for the composer,” explains director Sabrina Hölzer. As are the chosen music pieces: among others, an adaptation of Bach’s cantata “Ich habe genug” that evokes the acceptance of death. A pity that some of the other pieces are particularly exhausting, the line-up has no real underlying theme and the overwhelming spatialisation leaves a somehow unaccomplished feeling. Still an enjoyable experience, that allows us to hope concerts in the darkness will soon become a delightful habit in Berlin.