Premiere: 6 October 2018, Les Brigittines during Nuit Blanche Brussels (Belgium)
Creative Team: Krystian Lada (stage director & concept), Katarzyna Głowicka (composer), Natalia Kitamikado (costumes & set design), Maarten Warmerdam (lighting design), Pedro Beriso (musical director), Pim Dinghs (video design & assistant director)
More info: http://theairportsociety.com/portfolio-item/unknown-i-live-with-you/
* * *
“That evening in Brussels, a crowd stood in silence in front of a 17th century baroque chapel. It used to be a part of monastery building complex, but now only bare walls remained. The downright empty interior maintains a mystical atmosphere, as if there was a secret still hiding inside.
After entering the place one could only wander, like a pilgrim through life who stumbles upon strangers on their way. In the middle of a circle of spectators, on a quasi-stage, stood Małgorzata Walewska. She was wearing blue work clothes, just like a few other women accompanying her. Were they cleaning ladies? Hospital porters? Or maybe workers of a prosectorium, wandering around a young girl lying still on a metal table?
The work of these women in the half-light, half-darkness had something degrading to it, as if it was immediately determining their social role. But is it so that a woman treated as someone different and worse has no right to be a human?
The creation of “Unknown, I Live with You” was inspired by the work of three Afghan female poets. During the Taliban times women in Afghanistan had no right to express themselves publicly. Creating poetry or involving in musical activity put them at risk of stoning or death punishment. Nevertheless, they were meeting secretly to share their creative work with each other. The remarkable strength of this performance is its overpowering honesty and the fact that almost every word strikes a chord with the spectator. Krystian Lada’s idea was risky, as the political directness could easily lead to disastrous results. Luckily, that was not the case. The performance speaks with the power of its poetry and music, evoking the atmosphere of a mystery play. After each of the three parts the audience was given the possibility to exit the Brussels’ chapel and they could return afterwards. Nobody has left the place before the end of the piece, there were even more and more spectators after each subsequent part. This performance is really a must-see.”
Jacek Marczyński in ABC of Polish Opera
“To shake the listener, the poetry would be enough, accompanied by a well-fitting music and altogether creating a coherent dramatic whole. Nevertheless, the authors went a step further. Krystian Lada and other authors of the installation placed the narrative in a space resembling a morgue. I entered this space in the dark, surrounded by the music of Katarzyna Głowicka: minimalistic, hazy, but at the same time bursting with underlying emotion. All good and bad memories from Afghanistan crossed my mind. The trauma was back. My doubts were gone. I knew already that I’m face to face with the musicians, who profoundly experienced the tragedy of Afghan women and do not want to just reinterpret it, but to simply understand it.
After such an experience it is hard to talk about joy, but I cannot name otherwise this overwhelming feeling of seeing the reaction of the other spectators – those curious, often unaware participants of Brussels’ Nuit Blanche (the Museum, Gallery and Theatre Night in one). They cried. They closed their eyes. The more and more people were showing up on successive parts of the Unknown.”
Dorota Kozińska in Upiór w Operze