Marina Abramovic, one of the best known artists of our time, asked Robert Wilson, one of the most popular theatre directors of our time, to create a play with her story as theme. She also asked Antony (Antony & the Johnsons) to make music for that play – and of course it was sold out already months ago at Carré Amsterdam during Holland Festival.
As I had to be in Amsterdam anyways that Friday afternoon I decided to go to the theatre to ask. Very optimistic, I know. So arriving there and seeing the sign that the counter was open I was happy. Smilingly I went to a young woman sitting behind some glass and asked for a ticket. She almost started to laugh and told me that I could be added to the list of people waiting for a ticket. I asked how long it was and she showed me an A4 sheet full of names. So what to do now? Go? Wait? Hope that something will happen?
I decided to go in front of the theatre and look for people who look as if they want to sell a ticket. In a group standing next to me someone said that they could sell a ticket, so I asked them. But it was a joke and I told the man that I hope heaven opens up an a ticket falls from the sky and he only said „First you will be wet with rain“. I continued waiting and asked three other men who were just exchanging tickets (sold beforehand as I figured out) and one guy gave me the tip to make a small sign. I was not sure if he was joking, as standing in front of a well known theatre with police arriving and holding up a sign saying that I would like to see the show? No! Well, yes! I changed my mind and wrote down four words: „I need a ticket“ and added a smiley.
I felt ashamed holding up the sign, but not a minute later two women were approaching me and sold me a ticket for 40€. I was so happy and finally could go in to see the show.
Have you seen Harry Potter? The scene were he is at court in the Ministry of Magic? The theatre felt like this. I was placed almost in the last row (one row with five seats behind me) – but I was in. And what did I see? Three of the dogs I took photos of some days earlier were running over the stage. They looked very impressive even from that distance!
The two women who sold me the ticket were of course sitting next to me and we talked a bit until the audience started to applaud for another special guest: Queen Beatrix. Once she was there it got dark and the play begun.
The doer of the evening was for sure Willem Dafoe, who played a narrator. He gave the information, he made the piece a play and he was acting very good. It was his presence.
The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic is about her private life, her history and not so much about her life and an artist. Of course some milestones of her carer were mentioned and some of her performances were projected, but first of all it was about her roots.
Have I already mentioned that she played her mother? Imagine you have to act as if you were your mother (or father), to feel what they felt, to do what they did. That must me so hard, especially if you had a childhood like she had.
But she was present. She was filling the theatre with her presence and you could feel the expectations, the wish that Marina Abramovic would do something – maybe with you. She was of course the star of the evening and the reason why most of the people were there I guess.
As I was placed so far behind and without booklet I was shocked (positively) by the sound that came to my ears, the voice of Antony. If you heard him once you will ever recall him and this very unique voice and I first thought that it was a recording (as he was performing in the beginning of June at Holland Festival already). I quickly figured out that it wasn’t and I was about to cry, cause this voice contains so much depth, so much sadness and sorrow, so much emotion that sitting almost in the last row I felt the need to hear and enjoy hearing. Oh what an experience!
Another wow-factor was Svetlana Spajic. She was singing in her mother language folk like songs were you could feel her home, feel her roots although I did not understand a single word. Oh what a woman that must be. What passion.
The costumes were beautiful, the stage almost empty. It was more like a moving painting than common theatre.
One of the moments that was incredible was Marina Abramovic taking off of her face a Marina mask and holding the mask in her hands. Imagine that!
The entire play was 2 1/2 hours. A lot was slowed down or repeated, to give time to see, to give time to hear, to give time to feel and to give time to think. Marina Abramovic was born, grew up, was dancing, trying to break her nose, fell in love and in the end she died. She in a red dress laying on a white house and the ground covered in fog – from above it looked as if she was floating in the sky, to hang in the end with two other Marinas from the ceiling while Antony was singing.
This was for sure a once in a lifetime experience. If you can get a ticket somehow – GO THERE!
Here a small collage of Carré