Or Press Escape

5.6.8/05 > 20:30
9/05 > 22:00
Duration: 75'
En, Fr, Nl

"I am the character, a cursor arrow on a computer screen. I respond in real time. In a virtual space. My being is organised into files. I open them and I close them. I discard them. A complete clean-up. Touch the "Esc" key and I no longer have me..."

Alone on stage with her back to the audience and in front of her computer's giant screen, Edit Kaldor types on her keyboard. The thread of her emotions and reflections unreels on the screen. Her solitary thoughts are interrupted by outside messages. Or Press Escape: in the software the fragile theatre of an existence quivers.

Concept, text, play:

Edit Kaldor

Made in collaboration with:

Nicola Unger, Zsolt Mesterhazy, Catherine Henegan


Marc Boon


Theater Gasthuis (Amsterdam)


Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt)

In collaboration with:

wp Zimmer (Antwerpen)

Thanks to:

Tim Etchells for advice in the rehearsal process.


Kaaitheater, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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‘When the first team of morons started approaching rhythmically from the sidelines, I clicked Retry. They marched on. Cancel didn’t work either.

As last resort there was still OK. I hesitated.

Select all. Cut.

McLuhan remarked that each new technology not only changes the world but also changes our body in this world. Tim Etchells (Forced Entertainment, Sheffield) continues: The theatre must take account of how technology (from the phone and the walkman upwards) has rewritten and is rewriting bodies, changing our understanding of narratives and places, changing our relationships to culture, changing our understandings of presence. In these hybrid times one can feel closer to a person, sometimes, when they are further away than when they are fully and simply before us. Theatre makers should take note.

"Dear Claire, I send you in attachment the article I was talking about - it's discussing different aspects of experiencing time while sitting in front of the computer. As I told you, I read this article when I started to work on Or Press Escape and although I didn't try in any way to apply it directly, it had some influence on the work. It's quite long. Anyway, maybe it's useful for your text, or just interesting to read. Take care, Edit"

In cybertime distinctions between past, present, and future fade, and our sense of times passage becomes distorted. Waiting for only a few seconds seems to drag on forever, while time truly flies when engaged in computing. Immersed in these microworlds, time seems to slow down relative to the outside world; (…) The sense of temporal dislocation in cybertime is a key characteristic of the experience of computing, whether it is compared to religious epiphany, drug-induced hallucination, or the dream state. Cybertime is in some ways a form of sacred time, a mythic time or dreamtime (Kirk, 1974). And while it has become commonplace to compare the experiencing of audiovisual media to the act of dreaming, no other media provide the same sense of active personal presence as the computer, no other media allow us to construct and encounter other versions of ourselves: dream selves.

(Lance Strate: Experiencing Cybertime: Computing as Activity and Event)

Edit Kaldor is alone on stage in the shadowy half-light in front of her computer's giant illuminated screen. With her back to the audience she types on her keyboard. The sound of keys being rapidly hit can be heard. The screen displays her emotions and thoughts, her hesitations, as they happen. It betrays her solitary thoughts that suddenly become displaced by messages from outside. She is the agile cursor on the computer screen: reacting in real time, in a virtual space. Her life is organised into files. She creates them when she feels like it or downloads them from a shared server. She opens them and shuts them. She deletes them, has a big clear out.

"I wanted to make a performance about the state of being alone, but without having to address the audience directly. Sitting in front of the computer seemed like a good setting for this. It's a very private situation, a specific state of mind, which, I think, is familiar to a lot of people who'd come to see the performance. And the set of codes associated with the daily use of computer are by now complex enough to play with in a way that can communicate. Of course I was also curious whether the warping of the time-perception that occurs when one is alone in front of the computer would also happen in this kind of a communal setting. In general, I find the way it deals with time the most theatrical aspect of this medium. Plus I was interested in using text in a particular way, in making the process of formulation the main action in the performance."

Edit Kaldor was born in Budapest. She left Hungary at the age of 13, together with her mother, and after a couple of stops on the way, finally settled in New York. It was there that she completed her studies in literature and drama. In 1993 she joined the New York-based Love Theater (formerly Squat Theater) headed by Peter Halasz. Innovative and experimental, Halasz rejects all affectation and theatrical convention, working from life and proximity and around events in everyday life. His very visual work makes use of different media and includes the news, making detours into everyday life. Kaldor continued to work with Halasz until 1999 as dramaturge and video-maker on more than thirty theatre performances in Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Slovenia and the U.S. She then moved to Belgium, where she spent a couple of years working with computer graphics and animation before returning to study drama at DasArts in Amsterdam. Since then she has been living in Amsterdam and Brussels.

Or Press Escape was developed and refined from a first piece of theatrical work which formed part of her individual project for DasArts.

This performance sharpens your view of the intimate relationship between human and computer, and leaves you astonished at the inevitability with which this apparatus has nestled itself so deeply into our lives. (Vrij Nederland)

Edit Kaldor creates the unexpected: her ‘desktop theatre’ becomes a refined and dramaturgically effective theatre performance, (…). Not only does an entertaining and intelligent story emerge on the large projection of the screen, but at the same time, rather paradoxically, also a fascinating, strong presence of the performer. (Frankfurter Rundschau)

Daring, fatally and intelligently funny, as well as astonishingly theatrical in the tension between the large dimension of the projection and the active presence of the small body of the performer. (Theaterszene Lateinamerika)

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