Artistic Direction


Teatro Goldoni
THE BOOK OF WATER, 2022 (70’) ***
music theatre for actor, string quartet
and film based upon Der Mensch
erscheint im Holozän by Max Frisch
adapted by Michel van der Aa
Samuel West, narrator, geiser
Timothy West, geiser (film)
Mary Bevan, Corinne (soprano, film)
Ensemble Modern String Quartet
Jagdish Mistry, Giorgos Panagiotidis, violins
Megumi Kasakawa, viola
Eva Böcker, cello
Michael van der Aa, composition,
stage director and script
Madelon Kooijman, dramaturgy
Bart van den Heuvel, light design
Djoere de Jong, production
Paul Jeukendrup, sound design
Judith de Zwart, costume design
Joost Rietdijk nsc, director of photography
Arjen Oosterbaan, Eastbound Films,
executive producer film
Djoere de Jong, ProductieCollectief,
production manager
Siemen van der Werf,
technical director
Martijn van Nunen, stage manager
Fergus McAlpine, play-out operator
Douwe Bulten, light operator
Tomas Valečka, sound operator
Commission La Biennale di Venezia, Ensemble Modern, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam,
Amsterdam Sinfonietta, November Music,
Philharmonie Cologne
With financial support of Ammodo, Prins
Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Cultuurfonds Bank
Nederlandse Gemeenten,
Ernst Von Siemens Music Foundation,
Stiching Reinbert de Leeuw,
Société Gavigniès
Foundation doubleA is supported by Performing Arts Fund NL

The Book of Water is a chamber music theatre project based upon the novella Man in the Holocene by Swiss author Max Frisch. The work centres around the character of Geiser, a 73-year-old widower, who is dealing with memory loss. In the adaptation of Frisch’s book by Michel van der Aa and dramaturg Madelon Kooijman extra focus is given to the continuous rain and flooding isolating Geiser in his house. These dangerous weather events link the work to the current topic of climate change. Not only is Geiser’s mind eroding; the landscape is also crumbling away, since the rainstorms raging outside are causing landslides and flooding. The Book of Water is a chillingly portrait of a man who is surrounded by erosion, nature’s and his own, and who struggles for one last moment of clarity in which to make sense of himself and of civilisation.

The text in The Book of Water is spoken by the actor on stage, and parts of the narrative are to be shown in the film projections. The string quartet is on stage with the actor and is an integral part of the scenography. The film is projected on surfaces made of stretched curtains that are positioned around and between the performers. The actor is able to create new visual perspectives by moving the curtains, following the dramatic arc of the piece. The film layer features prerecorded footage of the story’s protagonist Geiser, his daughter, and the villagers. The characters on film interact with the live actor and the musicians, extending the scenography on stage.
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