A journey through surrealism and silent film

Exposure Berlin is a new multilingual production, combining French surrealist theater with German expressionist silent film, being developed specifically for Das ehemalige Stummfilmkino Delphi, an original silent film cinema from the 1920′s in Berlin.

Exposure Berlin will be performed in French, German and English, with the intention that anyone who speaks one of these three languages will be able to understand the piece. The fusion of language, changing within the same sentence or even the same word, is a surrealist expression of spoken language.

Video animation, as well as a “live silent film” in the style of the 1920′s are integral parts of the journey into a surrealist world.

The music being newly composed for Exposure Berlin is an avant-garde opera, to be performed by a live twelve-piece orchestra, and singers.

Inspiration from the 1920’s

From Dali to Caligari, a spectrum of fantastic visual and musical influences creates the juxtaposition of our dream-like world, set in 1920’s Berlin.

Exposure Berlin is based on Les Mamelles de Tirèsias, a French play by Guillaume Apollinaire, the piece for which Apollinaire created the word “surrealist”. As a study in surrealism, inspiration is found in the artistic works of classic surrealists, such as André Breton and Salvador Dali, as well as more modern artists, such as Phillip Glass and David Lynch.

As the surrealist movement was flourishing in the galleries and cafes of Paris, Berlin was flourishing with an important artistic movement of its own- expressionism, specifically German Expressionist Silent Film, which is our second great source of aesthetic inspiration. This artistic movement is notably exhibited in works such as Das Cabinet des Doktor Caligari.

These influences as well as the backdrop of 1920‘s Berlin were sparked by our unique playing space: Das ehemalige Stummfilmkino Delphi, an original silent film cinema from the 1920’s. Exposure Berlin is being developed specifically for this historical location, as an homage to the glamorous artists of the 1920’s who once brought the space to life.

Themes of gender, power, and reality

Exposure Berlin works around several themes, taken from the original Apollinaire play, as well as the social and political movements of 1920’s Germany. The first deals with gender roles and identification, questioning the meaning of gender in an absurd world. Authority and control are also brought into focus- the obsession with attaining great power over others, and the madness that comes with it. Finally, the notion of our understanding of reality itself is brought into question.

All of the characters in Exposure Berlin find themselves inside a twisted surrealist dream. Like being trapped in a nightmare- you may recognize something isn’t right, but you just can’t wake up.

In this world, a woman becomes a man, and a man dresses as a woman to have 40,049 babies in just one day. He becomes demented, drunk with the power of creating his own populace, and moves towards maniacal dictatorship. Meanwhile, two confused clowns are trapped inside a silent film, unable to speak and only half aware of their condition. Their confusion eventually turns to madness, as they struggle to make sense of a senseless world. The phantom of the Delphi theater, a surrealist vision without gender, disappears and reappears, making her mark on the scene with riddles of advice and condemnation, in the form of powerful opera arias.