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The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.


Interview with Naomi Velissariou about PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert.

Theatre maker Naomi Velissariou and sound producer Joost Maaskant are back with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION. Last year they came to SPRING with their show PERMANENT DESTRUCTION – The SK Concert, a melodramatic energy concert about self-hate and unrequited love. The makers explored the confrontation with the work of British playwright Sarah Kane. This year their latest work, PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert, based and inspired on the work of German playwright Heiner Müller and co-produced by Theater Utrecht, is set to premiere at SPRING. We asked Naomi what it is all about.

Last year you played The SK Concert. What was it like?

It was super fun! The treatre concert is a new form of expressing myself. Ultimately it became a highly consistent cross-over between a play and a concert. So aside from what I am doing with the work of Kane or Heiner Müller, I have created an alter ego: an international popstar in great pain. It was a great character to develop.

How did audiences respond last year?

I’m not sure, since I was on the stage. It depended greatly on where we performed and the audience itself. People who failed to recognise the pop idiom, couldn’t see the irony, references and nods.. Some people didin’t know who Kane or Müller are, so they are simply dancing to the music and having a fun time like at a regular concert. To me, all experiences have equal value. Our audiences and their responses have never been so mixed before.

How did you arrive at this new instalment of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION?

I integrated Müller’s work based on a number of themes that, to me, form the core of his work. The same way I did with Kane last year. This year’s concert is about sexism and the urge of destruction. The #metoo-situation stirred something inside me, and I felt a surge of unreasonable rage. It could have led to some form of extremist feminism. The official term is: resentment. That’s the feeling you can get when you’ve lived with suppression for a long time and you’re entitled to an aggressive response. So taking Müller’s work, I created an extremist, feminist concert. Last year’s show dealt with pain, death and a broken heart. The rage was directed inwards, and this year, it is very much directed outwards. The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Joost?

We work together on a show for a year. We prepare for ten months and then we play for two. During those ten months we write and record the record together, which is very much a fifty/fifty collaboration.. We always start improvising simultaneously, at a table with two laptops, and write the record. Six months before the premiere, that’s finished, so we know the material that we will be using to create the show. Once the record is done, we start working with a visual artist to create a film. This year we are working with photographer Jan Hoek. The film is completely based on the record and then the concert we create, is based on the two. The music is the artwork around which we create this Gesamtkunstwerk called a theatre show.

Why choose a theatre venue with a concert set-up rather than a concert venue?

In terms of genre it certainly counts as theatre, so a theatre venue is only logical. However we also play in a theatre venue in Antwerp and on Lowlands, last year. It’s just that the creative process of this concert is different from creating a show. I play at the Paardenkathedraal, because it’s a beautiful venue and it is the home base of my biggest co-producer, Theater Utrecht. But I could do this show anywhere; even on a stage in a square somewhere in Utrecht.

What are your plans for the near future?

The HM Concert is the second part of a PERMANENT DESTRUCTION trilogy. Part three will premiere in late 2020 and after that I’d like to see what else is possible. I feel like I have been searching for this hybrid form between theatre and music for seven years, and for now, I have found it. I’m not ready to let go of it, yet, but perhaps after three instalments it will be done. Still, I’d like to see what else we can do with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION.

PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert (coproduction with Theater Utrecht) premiers next week in Theater De Paardenkathedraal. See the performance on Wed 15, Fri 17, Sat 18, Thu 21, Tue 23 and Fri 24 May!


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