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Poetisk Podcast #4: META

META is a play by Kenneth Krabat, written after a bout of wrestling with cancer, realised as a piece of sound-theatre in the form of a podcast.

In Kenneth’s play, Cancer is (in his own eyes) the one who is bullied and persecuted, while Meta has difficulty talking herself out of playing second fiddle…

Here, a few excerpts from Lene Henningsen’s notes, made during the process of recording the dialogue:

META is a very contemporary text, and yet my thoughts are taken back to both postmodernism and Beckett, e.g. The characters are LARGE, they talk about almost everything. Not least Cancer has big names hanging from his belt: Shiva, God, Devil, World President. (At the same time it can be the bullied child in the school yard). Meta 1 is very much a “modern” figure: critical, sometimes ironic, skeptical. A writer type? Meta 2 inserts a ‘Theater of Death’ into the middle of it all, like a kind of diva of death, and the stage is, paradoxically, full of life.

Let’s pretend that META is also a Faust story. Let’s see Meta 1 as an inquisitive Faust figure who wants to understand, beyond the immediate truths, beyond the mysteries, and ultimately find the truth (as Faust finds love in Goethe). Meta, the author, stands for life, or the systems of life (hence modern). Relates to alienation, avatars, “the fiction of presence”, etc.

Cancer is, Mephisto. A Mephisto with dreadlocks, white face and black suit perhaps, and with sugar coating that he has to brush off every now and then (that’s how I imagine him)? Mephisto is a seller of the idea of death, of change. Feared, bullied, but possessor of some truths.

META includes my own dive into the world of the Gamelan, in this case very much in the context of the narrative, in particular the Ngaben cremation ceremonies in Bali. The rest of the piece is quite sparse in terms of music. Mostly a question of establishing just enough to articulate and support the dialogue, but, for me, a fascinating process in terms of placing words, sound, and music alongside each other.

poetiskpodcast.dk/produktioner/meta/meta

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Poetisk Podcast #3: Moonpain Revisited

In 2008 Klaus Ib Jørgensen released his extensive Moonpain project, a ‘web-universe’ created around his Moon-pain cycle for voice and ensemble, based on Fernando Pessoa’s poetry.

Peter Poulsen contributed an extensive essay covering Pessoa’s life, heteronyms, and works, and Lene Henningsen, Morten Søndergaard, and Peter Poulsen each wrote a set of new poems, extended with sound and music, around the Moon-pain theme.

Lisbon field recordings were assembled into a cycle covering the course of a day with Peter Poulsen recounting stories about Pessoa and his relation to various locations as we wandered through the center of the city.

The ‘web-universe’ that collected all of the above was programmed in Flash, as was current at the time, and indeed the only means of achieving the interactivity the was at the core of the project’s ambition.

With Flash nearing its ‘End Of Life’ in 2020, and with that the looming closure of the moonpain.nu site, concerns about how all the wonderful material that had been collected there might be made accessible for the years to come, led to it being recast in podcast form and presented on poetiskpodcast.dk.

Read more on the process here: rudigermeyer.com/words/moonpain-revisited

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Poetisk Podcast #2: Altså netop nu
with Lars-Emil Woetmann

Altså netop nu, a ‘poetic podcast’ (in Danish) created together with the poet, author, and publisher Lars-Emil Woetmann – a little hybrid tot: part conversation, part poetry reading, part modulation and tonal interpretation; “arranged for the disturbance of your ear on an otherwise peaceful day”.

The eight eight-minute episodes (plus a little epilogue) were based around Lars-Emil’s poems, and appeared each Friday during the months of May and June, 2020. A conversation between the two of us, recorded a week before the first Danish Covid lockdown, provided a stream against which the poems could surface, with questions concerning the role of the state, the aesthetics of poetry, and the upending of the private sphere.

I wrote a little about the process of creating the series here: rudigermeyer.com/words/altsaa-netop-nu

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Poetisk Podcast #1: Oskar and Alma

The short and yet lifelong love affair between Alma Mahler (widow of the composer Gustav Mahler) and the painter Oskar Kokoschka provides the point of departure for Lene Henningsen’s lengthy and dense poetic text. A poem covering an hour and a quarter, in sound…

Lene, in her ‘Author’s Notes’ for the play:

Why Oskar and Alma?

The fascination of these two people, and the fierce tension and deep love that characterized their relatively short relationship in the years leading up to the First World War – demanded to be brought to life in words, in poetry, in drama.

Individually, they seemed so alive, so full of contradictions, gifted, energetic, and at the same time mysterious enough to elude analysis and explanation. This made work on the text, and the research that lay ahead, difficult, exciting, often nerve-wracking. Would it succeed in capturing an essence of who they were and what they meant to each other? Could a poetic-dramatic use of language do justice to it?

Read more in the PDF that can be downloaded from the Poetisk Podcast website:
poetiskpodcast.dk/produktioner/oskar-og-alma/i-stormen-skal-vi-giftes

And more on the process behind creating it here: rudigermeyer.com/words/oskar-alma

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Three years have passed since Lene Henningsen and I launched poetiskpodcast.dk. The idea of doing a podcast grew out of the frustrations around attempting to put together and finance theatrical performances of Lene’s Oscar & Alma, for which I was creating the music. We hit upon the idea of releasing it as a podcast with the realisation that the medium was far better suited to what we were trying to do than grappling with the constraints and expectations of a physical theatre production, exciting as they may be.

Given the difficulties of finding a place for ‘poetic theatre’ within todays commercial and cultural landscape, the medium of sound provided an alternative and led to the establishment of poetiskpodcast.dk as a platform not only for Oskar & Alma but also for podcasts by others interested in exploring new combinations of sound, words, poetry, and music.

Since then 14 productions have been released, ranging from intense drama and rowdy collectives to delicate poetry and dystopian landscapes.

Over the coming days I’ll be making a little retrospective of those productions.

Catch them all on the Poetisk Podcast website: poetiskpodcast.dk/produktioner

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