KALKWERK / STUDIUM@
Michał Libera - concept, libretto, composition outline
Pete Simonelli - voice
Hilary Jeffery - trombone
Andrea Belfi - drums
Ralf Meinz - sound design
Karolina Gebska - light design
Theatre-for-the-Ear based on "Kalkwerk" by Thomas Bernhard or, more literally, Audio-Book of an unwritten text.
The plot of „Kalkwerk”, one of Thomas Bernhard's masterpieces, oscillates around the main protagonist's unsuccessful attempt at writing „Studium” – treatise on listening, „the most philosophical of all senses” and the one which „had never become subject to a magnificent study, prominent dissertation, not even a solid article” (Bernhard). According to widespread interpretation, treatise on listening is nothing but an allegory; a symbol of failure, work not only unfinished but not even started, endlessly postponed, continually distracted and finally paving the road to the degenerate crime. Seen from this existential perspective, as in famous theatre adaptation by Krystian Lupa, defeat in writing about listening is a mere narrative background, anecdotal course of events which only serves to display grand metaphysical drama which is at the core of Bernhard's real interest.
KALKWERK / STUDIUM is rooted in an entirely different reading of „Kalkwerk”. Listening here is not an incidental alibi to examine more profound realms of human's existence. Quite the contrary. There is no drama in Bernhard outside of listening or perhaps the drama is the listening itself. Construction of the book seems to support this thesis. It is not built of characters but rather overheard and misheard voices – uncertain gossips, never fully reliable rumours and contradictory tales written down and given to the reader in a fragmented and sometimes disembodied versions. „Kalkwerk” is thus firstly a book on listening and more importantly a book to listen to and it is in the latter one where the piece displays its structural majesty. Seen in this way, it is questionable if treatise on listening had never been written. It is true that it was not conceived by Konrad, the main character of „Kalkwerk”. Yet one can argue that Bernhard wrote „Studium” himself, aware of the fact that the theme of listening calls for liteterature for the ear rather than the eye.
If Austrian author wrote the treatise himself, the only possible way to depict it is to follow the auditory features of the given discourse, reconstructing Bernhard's theory of hearing.