The equipment of the virtual world is breath-taking: Kennedy, Selg and Biersteker make optimal use of all its possibilities, but at the same time they incorporate enough snags to make it clear that a world of ones and zeros can also be dangerous… Until the end, it is not clear whether this ride, bursting with colour, is the road to heaven or to hell.
Falk Schreiber, nachtkritik.de, 4. 8. 2021
A captivating experience!
Peter Anders, Goethe-Institut Tokyo, 20 February 2021
What would humanity give for a glimpse into the future!? Can artificial intelligence technology finally fulfil this age-old desire?
German innovator Susanne Kennedy explores the possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) theatre and, in collaboration with visual artists Markus Selg and Rodrik Biersteker, has created an installation in which festival audiences are taken on a journey through fantastical worlds via VR goggles without moving from their seats. Just as ancient heroes once travelled to Delphi to see the oracles, in I AM (VR) the audience will encounter an omniscient entity to whom one can ask the one „most important“ question…
What would you ask? A unique journey through the insides of fascinating virtual worlds becomes an intimate journey into one's own inner self. Welcome on the other side!
The production is in English.
concept and design Susanne Kennedy, Markus Selg, Rodrik Biersteker
programming Rodrik Biersteker
visual design Markus Selg, Rodrik Biersteker
sound design & composition Richard Janssen
text Susanne Kennedy
dramaturgy Tobias Staab
voices Susanne Kennedy, Ixchel Mendoza Hernandez, Frank Willens, Ibadet Ramadani
avatars Ixchel Mendoza Hernandez, Benjamin Radjaipour, Thomas Hauser
costume Teresa Vergho
production Ultraworld Productions (Berlin – DE)
management and distribution Something Great (Berlin – DE)
premiere 17 January 2021
Co-produced by Berliner Festspiele (Berlin – DE), Hybrid Box / Hellerau – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste (Dresden – DE), Internationales Sommerfestival Kampnagel (Hamburg – DE), Münchner Kammerspiele (Munich – DE), Noorderzon Festival of Performing Arts & Society (Groningen – NL), Schauspielhaus Bochum / Oval Office (Bochum – DE), Theater Commons Tokyo (Tokyo – JP) and Volkstheater Wien (Vienna – AT).
Thanks to: Chiaki Soma, Christoph Gurk, the whole Oracle Team, Rafael Steinhauser, Anna Rausch, Lucas S. Maximiliano, Matthias Lilienthal
Visionary Susanne Kennedy (1977), one of the most radical and inspiring theatre artists of recent years, pushes the boundaries between theatre and other art forms, especially installation. After studying directing at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten), the Berlin native spent ten years working in the Netherlands. After returning to Germany in 2011, she staged an adaptation of Sydney Pollack's film They Shoot Horses, Don't they? to great acclaim at the Münchner Kammerspiele. For her production of Marieluise Fleißer's play Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt she was named Talent of the Year 2013 by Theater heute magazine and also won the 3sat Prize for innovation in the arts at the Berliner Theatertreffen 2014.
In her formally experimental, philosophical adaptations of literary, film and theatre texts or original projects, she explores the relationship between the body and modern technology. In her productions, classical actors „disappear“ behind masks, merging with playback dialogue, their doubles and multimedia, provoking the audience with the question: What does it really mean to be human?
Markus Selg (1974) is a German multimedia artist, also known in the Czech Republic, who explores the dynamics between archaic myth and computer technology through digital painting, sculpture, immersive installation, theatre and virtual reality. He co-founded the legendary Isotrope Academy, Hamburg's prominent collective of visual artists, musicians and theorists. Selg works across a variety of genres, including opera and feature films. With Suzanne Kennedy, he created the productions Oracle and Ultraworld (at Volksbühne Berlin), which won the Faust 2020 award for best set/video design.
The award-winning production Ultraworld (2020) was also co-created by Rodrik Biersteker (1986), a Dutch interdisciplinary artist who primarily uses video and interactive technologies in a theatrical context. He studied design for virtual theatre and video games at the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht. He has worked on productions by Susanne Kennedy for the Münchner Kammerspiele and the Ruhrtriennale.
The production I AM (VR) is another collaborative work of this successful creative trio.
Interview with Susanne Kennedy about art in the “covid times” (in Slovak)
Interview with Susanne Kennedy (in German)
Lecture with Susanne Kennedy
photo Markus Selg & Rodrik Biersteker / Franziska Sinn