Oh Magic

La Raffinerie
  • 17/05 | 20:30
  • 18/05 | 20:30
  • 19/05 | 20:30
  • 20/05 | 18:00

€ 16 / € 13

Meet the artists after the performance on 18/05

Coming from rural Austria, Simon Mayer has always been fascinated by forms of folklore that he likes to subvert while retaining the power of the collective pleasure they produce. After studying dance at the Vienna State Ballet and then at P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, he has developed both his choreographic and musical work. In his new show, premiering at the festival, he confronts the technological and manipulative magic of theatre with the organic and spiritual magic of traditional rituals. He creates a level playing field between human elements and technical elements, music and dance, in search of a new harmony. Exploring the therapeutic potential of movement and sound and drawing on meditation and shamanism, Oh Magic attempts to establish a profound connection between living beings and reconciles people used to the old way of life with their technological environment.

Compography, concept & performance
Simon Mayer

Co-creation & performance
Clara Frühstück, Patric Redl, Tobias Leibetseder, Manuel Wagner

Sound design
Tobias Leibetseder

Robot operator
Manuel Wagner

Costume design
Andrea Simeon

Lighting design
Heinz Kasper

Master electrician & operator
Jan Maria Lukas

Robotics, electronics & engineering
Dominik Strzelec

Sound
Lukas Froschauer, Rene "Ringo" Grömer

Technical coordination
Gwen Lenoble

Dramaturgy
Robert Steijn

Research & anthropologic advice
Justine François, Manuel Wagner

Thanks to
Julian Rubisch, Frans Poelstra, Jason Zieglmaier, Viktor Delev, Jürgen Ropp, Arbeitsplatz Wien, Wim Muyllaert

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi Danses

Production
Hiros, Kopf hoch (Sophie Schmeiser, Anna Erb)

Co-production
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, steirischer herbst festival (Graz), Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival (Groningen), Gessnerallee (Zurich), Teaterhuset Avant Garden (Trondheim), brut Wien, Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek (Brussels), Centrale Fies (Dro)

With the support of
Vlaamse Overheid, Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien, Bundeskanzleramt Österreich, Österreichisches Kulturforum Brüssel

In collaboration with
Tanzquartier Wien, D.ID Dance Identity, SPIEL, Klavierhaus A. Förstl

Project co-produced by
NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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Oh Magic – self-induced trance through a ritualized concert

What is shamanism today? Have we lost the precious knowledge of autohypnosis, falling into trance or whatever we want to call the various self-healing practices we used to know when we were children? Are just a handful of religions allowed to claim all of spirituality just for themselves?

In the performance-concert Oh Magic, Simon Mayer wants to create a renewed love affair between the body of the performer, and the instrument he or she plays. A love affair that goes beyond the conventions of mastering the instrument. Quite on the contrary: he asks the musicians to go beyond what they already mastered, asks them to see their instrument with new eyes, far away from academic standards of perfection. He guides them into an alternative state of mind, asks them to be innocent as kids again in exploring new possibilities to play.

Oh Magic creates a playground for the performers, in which they challenge their intuition by making decisions without knowing the consequences. “Shoshin” (in Japanese 初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the practice of Zen Buddhism. The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

A meditative state of mind is induced, and this state of mind asks the performers to get inside their uncensored subconsciousness, for listening to what they really want to create. It challenges them to observe the roots of their desires, struggles, even stubbornness and anger in making art, and how these different emotions and energies can be a portal of starting to make the first steps in making a new kind of music. Perhaps we can call this ecstasy “living the music which one perceives inside”.

In this ecstasy, there is always a certain clash between the organic and the mechanic. And this clash does not manifest itself only between the performer and the instrument, but also in the mind and body of the audience. Bronislav Malinowski, an influential anthropologist from the early 20th century, suggested that all living societies have developed effective knowledge and practical techniques for dealing with the world.

At the same time, however, they also realize that their practical control over the world has limits. Where their techniques and knowledge are sufficient for accomplishing their goals, magic is not used. But when the outcome is uncertain, regardless of the skill and insight people may have, they are likely to resort to magical practices. The use of magic in such situations, Malinowski argued, has the practical function of reducing anxiety, thereby allowing people to concentrate on what they can control.

Oh Magic has a very complex technical dimension of sound, light and robotics. Therefore, malfunction, error-proneness and even failure are all elements of this complex tech conglomeration. The human ensemble can only pray for the spirits of electricity and robotics to be well–meaning. So, are we imagining spirits to be in the room, or are they actually there? Does it even matter, since the healthful process is already taking place? Oh Magic lets each single visitor to this contemporary concert ask her- or himself the question: “Do I still believe in magic, just like when I was a child?” Maybe each and every one will rediscover his or her childhood’s trance techniques in order to bring them back to the present, and take them home again.

Let’s be a little insane on purpose, to stay sane in an overwhelmingly complex world.

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Simon Mayer (b. 1984) is an Austrian musician, performer and choreographer. He studied at the Vienna State Opera Ballet School and at P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, and was member of the Vienna State Opera Ballet. In 2009, he founded the band Rising Halfmoon as its singer, guitarist and songwriter. As a dancer, choreographer and musician he has been involved in productions by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker ( The Song ), Wim Vandekeybus ( Frisking ) and Zita Swoon. His own choreographic repertoire includes solos, duets and group pieces that have been performed widely on the international performing arts scene: O feather of lead, Dancing with the Sound Hobbyist (Zita Swoon), Monkeymind, SunBengSitting and Sons of Sissy. Simon Mayer is artistic director of the festival Spiel, which he started with his brothers. In Vienna he founded the association Kopf Hoch. He teaches contemporary dance, community dance, traditional dance and voice techniques.

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