Aesthetics of Absence presents a significant challenge to the many embedded assumptions and hierarchical structures that have become ‘naturalised’ in western theatre production. This is the first English translation of a new collection of writings and lectures by Heiner Goebbels, the renowned German theatre director, composer and teacher. These writings map Goebbels’ engagement with ‘Aesthetics of Absence’ through his own experience at the forefront of innovative music-theatre and performance making.
In this volume, Goebbels reflects on works created over a period of more than 20 years staged throughout the world; introduces some of his key artistic influences, including Robert Wilson and Jean-Luc Godard; discusses the work of his students and ex-students, the collective Rimini Protokoll; and sets out the case for a radical rethinking of theatre and performance education. He gives us a rare insight into the rehearsal process of critically acclaimed works such as Eraritjaritjaka and Stifters Dinge, explaining in meticulous detail the way he weaves an eclectic range of references from fine art, theatre, literature, politics, anthropology, contemporary and classical music, jazz and folk, into his multi-textured music-theatre compositions.
As an artist who is prepared to share his research and demystify the processes through which his own works come into being, as a teacher with a coherent pedagogical strategy for educating the next generation of theatre-makers, in this volume, Goebbels brings together practice, research and scholarship.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
When a Tree is Already Being Mentioned, You Don’t Also Have to Show It
Aesthetics of Absence
How it all began
PART I: Texts on Work(s)
Description of a Picture, Table-Parties and Comparative Degrees
About the opera Landscape with Distant Relatives
‘Some Things You Only Remember, Because They Don’t Have Anything To Do With Anything’
Questions on constructing Eraritjaritjaka
Real Time In Oberplan
A Theatre of Deceleration
On working on I Went to the House But Did Not Enter
The Space as Invitation
The spectator as the object of art
PART II: Texts on Artists
‘But I wanted this to be a narrative’
Jean-Luc Godard as a composer
What We Don’t See, Attracts Us
Four theses on Call Cutta by Rimini Protokoll
The Mystery Of Signs
For Robert Wilson
Trust No Eye
For Erich Wonder
‘To Comprehensively Build Up A Society With Modest Prosperity’
The Ensemble Modern as an example
PART III: Texts on Education
Research or Craftsmanship?
Nine theses on the future of an education for the performing arts
If I Want An Actor To Cry, I Give Him An Onion
On working with actors
A Giant Wooden Pistol
Theory and Practice in Gießen
Organising Hearing and Seeing
The Practical Study of Theatre
Compromise Is a Bad Director
Theatre as museum or laboratory
Heiner Goebbels is a professor at the Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft of the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, President of the Hessische Theaterakademie, and Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale – International Festival of the Arts.
"This book will have a wide appeal for scenographers, designers, theatre makers, students and academics who are interested in the interplay of theatre objects directly from the perspective of an exemplary practitioner of the form. [...] a welcome and stimulating perspective."
- Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
"A significant contribution to shifting the margins and the centre of the discourse on practice."
- Ed McKeown, Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture