Klosterhof – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review by Frank L
Klosterhof is written by Iwona Nowacka and Janek Turkowski
Turkowski & Nowacka, Poland
Klosterhof | Project Arts Centre (Cube) | 9-13 Oct
“Klosterhof is the historical name of the oldest part of the Polish city of Szczecin.” The two writers live there in a 1909 building that managed to survive the war. They have, in several hundred hours of video footage, recorded the happenings, or to a large extent the non-happenings, in the immediate environment of their house. This footage is to be edited and put into a time capsule which will be discovered in the distant future by some sentient creature. What is revealed in the performance is the video footage that is contained in the time capsule. So the performance is a preview of what may happen a hundred years or so hence when the time capsule is rediscovered.
Nowacka and Turkowski operate two laptops which project onto a large screen selections from the video footage. There are subtitles where Polish is spoken. Mostly the videos are silent but Nowacka and Turkowski give some background information in English. In the videos little happens and there is a fair degree of repetition. The videos, for the most part, failed to hold the attention and the mind wandered as they studied the trivial matters of local life. We see builders working on the tiles of a local roof or the happenings at a local zebra crossing, with the longest waiting time in the vicinity at an impressive 82 seconds. Most of the videos focus on the banal. There is one section though with a local homeless man that is heart-warming, as they manage to give him a place to stay and develop his artistic talents. Many of the other elements seem inconsequential and it would be difficult to raise any strong emotions about them. The production is a discussion on an art project, a presentation on the work they have carried out so far. While documenting life in a contemporary society could be fascinating to future generations, when viewed by this one, it is difficult to find anything particularly captivating. One section marked ‘Foil’ where a piece of kitchen foil drifts in the wind (reminiscent of American Beauty) shows just how frivolous this can get.
As a performance in a theatre festival, it raises the existential question “is this theatre”? By any definition no matter how loose, it is difficult to answer in the positive but you can make of this production what you will.