THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Photo Björn Elias
The Roman Empire has risen again and slammed its eagle standard through the white floor tiles of a small theatre in Malmö. Institutet. Two adolescent boys enter the stage. They are dressed in diapers and drenched in blood. Their names are Romulus and Remus and they want to see real theatre, a theatre which aims for death.
The audience is seduced with alcohol and drugs. Aroused by the aesthetizication of performative violence they find themselves drawn closer. Two doors open at the rear of the stage. Inside awaits the sex chamber.
Five weeks later another performance; the Rebellion of Spartacus, but where is the rebellion? A group of gladiators march onto the tiles. They offer a dry reading of a staggered text. It seems to have been sampled from aggressive reviews and anxious protocols, maybe confused meetings with the worried cultural department of the municipality of Malmö. The audience are thrown into a frenzy of disappointment. Overcome by unfullfilled phantasies of sexual transgression they raid the stage, overtake it, and tear the props to pieces. Actors are seen to be carried out onto the streets, fearlessly reciting their scripts, no matter what.
The third time Romulus and Remus open their doors the audience are emitted into a garden party. Julius Ceasar greats everyone warmly from his giant lawn mover as he sweeps by a delicate bed of home grown tulips. The benevolent despot is famous for having put an end to chaos and rioting mobs so this promises to be a relaxed and peaceful happening. A pleasant night out, perhaps, under the safe surveillance of a reliable authority, one who guarantess order and, above all, a sence of safety.
Photos Björn Elias
Maybe this is what the municipality of Malmö and the critics and the apparatus of theatre wishes to see? Will they let Institutet keep their fundings now, once the company has manifested order and maturity, or has the wheels of power been turned irreversibly towards demise and the feared verdict; Damnatio memoriæ?
There is no point waiting around for disaster to strike. Nero and Caligula decide that is time to celebrate their limitless surplus of material goods before it´s too late. For the fourth performance the audience are invited to a giant cake party and induced to waste as much as possible in a giant orgie of over consumtion. The cake is 20 meter long and when the party is over it is hanging everywhere; from the lighting rig as well as the loudspeakers. It has been smeared onto the walls and mixed with semen, vomit and ruptured left overs from torn up clothing.
But the end draws near. It is a tragedy. The enemy has come together and decided to close the building. It is all so obvious now, how they have gathered secretely behind the backs of the company, all the colleagues, the critics and the politicans, how they always have, like the pathetic midgets of the despicable republic, waiting around with their daggers, hiding in the darkness! It is the fashion of barbarians to pour through gates and tear down everything which is beautiful and wise but Institutet has decided not to go down without a spiritual fight. They still have one last performance to give, one more glorious battle of character, before the rule of art and culture is destroyed and replaced with the desert of instrumentalization!
The audience stand in silence as the black box is sealed off for the fifth and last performance; The death of civilisation. Hidden vents are opened and the gass is let loose. Thus ends the Roman Empire, in true patricier style, as the gass of destruction fill all lungs.
Ghosts are seen to wander off, hand in hand, in pursuit of Elysium.
They stop on their way across river Styx and tear down their sexchambers, leaving nothing for the enemy. On the other side of the shores of destitute a roman catapult awaits them. Before vanishing into the shadows of history the haunted army picks up a massive iron ball and locks the throwing arm into its armed position. As the catapult is fired the iron ball takes off. It flies in a straight line right through the window of the neighbouring theatre, Teatr Weimar, and smashes loudly into something on the other side of the building.
Conceptual recipe for The rise and fall of the Roman Empire:
We will stage ourselves as the Roman Empire as a way to discuss how historical archetypes continue to shape cultural power structures in the contemporary
We will bring the machinery that surrounds the production of theatre into this staging as a way to discuss these power structures as theatre in an expanded sense
Our history as the Roman Empire will be performed as five performances executed during a period of six months
In these performances we will examine parallels between our narrative, as it unfolds, and that of the Roman Empire, as it has been passed down to us through the discourse of history
Each performance will be performed only once, as a way to refuse the idea of perpetual production and as a way to celebrate the exclusiveness of the theatre ritual
Every performance shall be five hours long
Every process of rehearsals and preparations will be limited to a period of five weeks only
We will cooperate with external collaborators not normally associated with the theater scene as a way to welcome new groups into the theatre arena. This also serves to question hierarchies and to explore new possiblities for cooperation