The Mechanical Bauhaus Stage

The “Mechanical Ballet” is now called “Stage organisation with Simple Forms”. This new term is more exact, since mechanical is usually taken to mean something purely machinelike, which was not the case for the mechanical Ballet, as the forms were being moved by people.

Kurt Schmidt

A dynamic concentration of action presented with the means of form, movement, sound and light design will be named “the mechanical eccentricity”.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Cast

The ensemble of the world premiere on November 26, 1987 at the Junges Theater in the old town of Dusseldorf

Das mechanische Ballett:
Choreography and staging: Jörg U. Lensing
Assistance: Gudula Schröder, Jacqueline Fischer
Musikc: Hanno Spelsberg
Piano: Hanno Spelsberg
Drumset: Axel Heinrich
Viola: Gesine Böllnitz
Speaker: Jörg U. Lensing
Windmill: Claudia Auerbach
Machine presence: Laura Wissing
Locomotive: Christina Numa
Dancer: Tanja Nie
Little One: Rainer Behr
Lighting design: Siegfried Paul
Figurines: Design: Kurt Schmidt (1923), Adaptation: Ernst Merheim, Production: Udo Lensing
Choreographic consultation: Malou Airaudo, Heide Tegeder

The mechanical eccentricity

Sequence score and staging: Jörg U. Lensing
Assistance: Gudula Schröder
Operators: Claudia Auerbach, Tanja Nie, Gudula Schröder, Hanno Spelsberg, Laura Wissing
Clownery: Axel Heinrich
Human mechanics: Rainer Behr
Stage construction and mechanical aggregates; stage technology: Jürgen Steger
Music: Jörg U. Lensing
Composition “Elektroapparate” (from minute 6-8); sound direction: Thomas Neuhaus
Choreography of “Human mechanics”: Malou Airaudo
Lighting: Sascha Hardt
Slide projection design, film projection: Sascha Hardt
Spotlight: Christina Numa
Slide projection: Ernst Merheim
Costumes: Janina Mackowski

Moviemaking:
Version 1 – Interpretation of the type photo “Dynamics of the City” by L. Moholy-Nagy as a 16mm film : Josef Schiefer
Version 2 – Implementation of the type photo “Dynamik der Großstadt” as video: Script: Jörg U. Lensing, Director: Sascha Hardt, Photography: Herbert Twardy

In indispensable cooperation on all works of:
Claudia Auerbach, Sascha Hardt, Jacqueline Fischer, Jörg Lensing, Ernst Merheim, Thomas Neuhaus, Tanja Nie, Gudula Schröder, Hanno Spelsberg
Management: Sascha Hardt
Artistic Director: Jörg U. Lensing
PR work: Ernst Merheim und Sascha Hardt
Public support: Jacqueline Fischer
Choreographic consultation: Malou Airaudo, Heide Tegeder

Die mechanische Bauhaus Bühne

“The Mechanical Bauhaus Stage”

“Die mechanische Bauhausbuehne” is the title of two stage pieces which were created at the Bauhaus in Weimar in the 20’s, both based on the same concept , the mechanisation of the stage event as a theatrical subject matter. The first piece came from former Bauhaus student Kurt Schmidt and is called “Das mechanische Ballett”. The second piece was written by the former Bauhaus master Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and is titled “Die mechanische Exzentrik”.

While “Das mechanische Ballett” ran its premiere on the 17th of August 1923 on the occasion of “Bauhaus Week” at the StateTheater Jena, with the Kurt Schmidt choreography and music by Hans-Heinz Stuckenschmidt, Moholy-Nagy’s “Die mechanische Exzentrik” remained a utopic and theoretical theater project. Schmidt’s work concerns itself with the layering of twodimentional “spaces” with the means of moving abstract images. Vaguely reminiscent of humans, lifesize, colorful, geometric dance figures are controlled from the backside by hidden dancers, so that there is always one of the abstract images relating to a particular tableau running along throughout the choreography.

Moholy-Nagy’s stage work includes film, the threedimentional stage and several stage layers as independently moving objects, grates, curtains etc. At the end of this piece appears a human dancer in a mechanical “event”, as a living example of the concept of the nascent integration of the human “biomechanic”.Attached to the partition of “Die mechanische Exzentrik” is a 1921/22 sketch to a Laszlo Moholy-Nagy film: “Dynamik der Grosstadt”(“Dynamic of the Big City”), in form of the rear projection which had been provided specifically as an integral part of the story line.

The performance, actually the conversion of “Die mechanische Exzentrik” remained therefore under others a mere fantasy, because in those days the implementation of such a project was not thinkable, even for technical reasons alone. The two pieces, as well as the transcription of the “Dynamik der Grosstadt” fotos, were thereby not reconstructively created, but created new on the grounds of the preset aesthetic frame. “Das mechanische Ballett” saw the emergence in a concrete manner of figurine sketches, true to the originals by Kurt Schmidt and Georg Teltscher. The choreography was re-created by Joerg Lensing and the music by Hanno Spelsberg in 1987.

“Die mechanische Exzentrik” in an original staging by Joerg Lensing, as well as the video “Dynamik der Grosstadt” in a first realization by Josef Schiefer and a second one by Sascha Hardt, are the Theater der Klaenge’s own creations in the year 1987. The double program was shown with huge success from 1987 to 1992 in a total of 18 cities , 62 performances for 15000 spectators inland as well as abroad.

After 12 years , “Das mechanische Ballett” is still an integral part of the repertory of Theater der Klaenge, in the double program “Tanz am Bauhaus” (“Dance at the Bauhaus”) which exists since 1994, and from which “Die mechanische Bauhausbuehne” has separated itself. The video conversion “Dynamik der Grosstadt” by Sascha Hardt was set to music with a soundtrack specifically composed for it by Joerg Lensing, and is since shown autonomously at film festivals.

The Mechanical Bauhaus Stage: Press

“The use of the most modern stage technique makes possible in our times the realization of a most complicated score, and thereby the Duesseldorf premiere of the “Theater der Klaenge”. A “technocratic art form” of that nature may at first have an odd and unfamiliar effect, one can however not easily pull oneself away from the immediate fascination. This is an accomplishment of the young theatermakers, whose interpretation is not only remarkable by an impressive standard of perfection, but also by a concurrent liveliness and joy of play.”

Der Treff (Weimar/DDR)

“Idealism and intelligent initiative are the virtues of the “Theater der Klaenge”. When to those are added convincing artistic direction- as in the opening with the reproduced mechanical Bauhaus Stage- one can speak of an ideal constellation. The Duesseldorf ensemble – which only had one picture of the original premiere (of the Mechanical Ballet) to work with – planned to entirely rework the quasi mechanical movement sequences and enforced them throughout with pantomimic wit. The “manipulators” behind the stage, the composer and producer, and all actors deserve a compliment for their commitment and the precise result. They have enriched the cultural landscape with an irreplaceable spot of color.

Koelner Stadtanzeiger

“Its almost a “historical achievement” of this company to be able to introduce the ideas of that time (which must have appeared revolutionary to the 1923 spectators) to a contemporary audience as an experience. Most impressive of all is the music, in which jazz elements and traditional rhythms of the time become acoustical enjoyment. The movement in the ballet is mechanical, however also witty, cheerful and bursting with technical optimism. A film runs through the picture. Here meet Dada and Futurism. An enthusiastic round of applause for the Theater der Klaenge.”

Rheinische Post

“Both programs of the “Mechanical Bauhaus Stage” speak of precision. In line with the computer culture of our times, the technical prerequisites are provided first, in order to accomplish the dynamic concentration of form, movement, sound and light on the stage. These performances of the Duesseldorf free ensemble “Theater der Klaenge” stand as historical confirmation of their own experimental validity.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine

“The young Theater der Klaenge from Duesseldorf has with its first production achieved a “Grand coup” . Its efforts did not remain only dormant in the form of good intentions, but rose to a triumph of imagination, expertise and precision. One has dug and has found, has dedicated oneself to the past and thereby promoted an impressive up-to-dateness. The technical and the human are ingredients of a magical flow of images, which engenders constant suspense. Dazed, one emerges out of this maelstrom of moving images, but richer for the experience of the wondrous in movement arranged fantasies.”

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“What the Bauhaus people knew at one time, the “Duesseldorfians” have finally proven us: That mechanical man can make use of the Theater creature.”

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

“Color, form, music and movement become one on stage, without the necessity for one of the actors to be present. Out of Nagy’s “Eccentricity” arise images of ice-cold beauty. In the end stands a successful experiment which holds before the theater its boundaries like a mirror.”

Westdeutsche Zeitung

“Finally! The Bauhaus Stage of the twenties awakens to a new life! Witty, agile, lovingly reconstructed and perfectly choreographed.
Flat and yet amazingly plastic, the figurines assemble themselves in continuously changing images. The mechanics within have here an artistic function and fascinate eyes and ears with stubborn charm. A cupboard of surprises.”

Neue Rhein Zeitung

The mechanical Bauhaus Stage: Sound

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