the cockpit, london
& acc gallerie, weimar
From the director's programme note:
"Schubert did not conceive Winterreise as a stage work, though its dramatic intensity has lured many a director to produce it in recent years. I personally believe the music to be self-sufficient, but having this opportunity to perform it in the round of The Cockpit has encouraged me to devise some gentle visual support. The simple set - a circle of 24 upright canes - not only functions as a visual analogue for the song cycle, but also, cage-like, traps the singer until the vicious circle of his distraught psychological state is broken. The lighting scheme also tracks around in a circle, fading very slowly from lamp to lamp, completing a clockwise circuit roughly once every song, and changing the direction of the shadows.
The journey that the protagonist undertakes is perhaps more interesting when considered as an internal one, with the winter setting, as literally described in the poems, providing a rich tapestry of metaphor for internal struggle. Norbert and I do not regard the cycle as nihilistic, as some commentators have done, ending in a direct encounter with Death personified in the form of the hurdy-gurdy player. Rather, his journey is cathartic - a series of monologues which one by one clarify his state of mind and enable him essentially to ‘get over’ the pain of a relationship turned sour. The moment when the protagonist faces death - in the graveyard 'Inn' of Das Wirtshaus - is also the moment when he rejects it, choosing to take up his 'faithful walking staff'. At this moment, he breaks the vicious cycle by taking one of the canes - both a literal representation of the staff, and the creation of a metaphorical opening for catharsis, the chance of an exit from the cage."