Comparisons to Harold and Kumar aside, the title of choreographer-performer duo Witchtits’ latest work pretty much says it all – “Witchtits Go To Paradise”. In the depths of Berlin’s wintry January, the Hochzeitssaal in the Sophiensaele will be turned into paradise. Just exactly how this paradise will look is likely to be shaped by Alicia Grant und Zinzi Buchanan’s interest in rituals, fake healing and the all-too pliable boundary between the real and the staged. This trip into performance as experience will serve as the first feature in a double bill with Marcio Canabarro as part of the annual Tanztage Festival for new dance.
How did you come to create this work for Tanztage?
Zinzi Buchanan: We were thinking about the Berlin winter while we were staying out in Ponderosa [in Stolzenhagen], in a room that we called the Witch Palace. We were working on things that we’d been working on before: making healing spaces, searching out power points, but we also made a book. We were thinking about rituals that people can practice independently and asking ourselves: What is Paradise and can you make your own? For example, can you be your own healer?
What is your idea of paradise?
Alicia Grant: We started by looking at mythologies of paradise and modern versions, like going on cruises. For us paradise can be opening the door to the studio: we were together one afternoon and we’d been running around on the U-Bahn and it was cold and we were hungry. And opening that door (to the studio) and knowing that it would be warm and quiet, even though it’s right next to Alexanderplatz, that was beautiful, and paradise for me.
ZB: And when we’re dealing with this idea in performance. [As a performer] you can open the door and have a space to do whatever you want with. How do you make that space possible?
The line between rituals and performance in a more traditional theater sense is very blurry, how does that enter your work?
AG: For Witchtits Go to Paradise we’re thinking a lot about the ritual of going to the theater. How do people enter the space, how are they in their bodies, how do you include them or exclude them? And then to address the ritual of the performance, the historical form itself: the audience enters and then you do something and then it’s over. And that happens in 35 minutes.
ZB: We would also like to facilitate or to encourage a different way of entering the space. Could they slide in?
AG: Or drop down a trap door? But I think we might need more funding for that one… (laughs)
Why the name Witchtits?
ZB: I think I suggested it as a joke and we thought, “Oh we’ll find another name…” But as a name it’s also quite brazen and a little funny and it brings you in.
Do you think there’s something real in the fake healing rituals that you perform?
ZB: There is a lot of realness in it.
AG: People cry and that is a direct way of seeing that something is happening inside… We were invited to a ritual birthday party to perform and people really reacted – what happens also has a lot to do with the person themselves.
ZB: One fake patient at this party had his eyes wide open. And it made us more vulnerable. If they
have their eyes closed we’re not afraid to play around. We use organic and found objects on the
fake-patient’s bodies, which give the fake-patient touch sensations, but also create a visual spectacle that Alicia and I can experience and improvise with as a duo, without the fake-patients’ awareness. But he was witnessing it and looked terrified, so we found a different way to move.
Witchtits Go To Paradise, Jan 10-11, 19:00, Tanztage Festival, Jan 4-14 | Sophiensaele, Sophienstr. 18, Mitte, U-Bhf Weinmeisterstr. times and details at www.tanztage.de
Witchtits Go To Paradise is a co-production with Tanztage and Sophiensaele and has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.