Standing still means freedom – European Cultural News

Imagine your experience radius is limited to four walls and you don’t mind, you just find it relaxing. Imagine you have your own assistant who does everything for you. Call her Isadora and talk to her as if you were your best friend. Imagine everything is so convenient for you that you can even welcome friends at the virtual lunch table. Imagine that you are completely independent from the outside world and that you are completely happy – you never, ever go out because you are afraid of it.

Exactly this setting was introduced by Caroline Peters with the Ledwald group in the play The Machine Doesn’t Stand Still. The spin-off is a paraphrase of a text from E.M. Forster’s 1909 titled “The Machine Stops” and was created in response to the pandemic, as most of us became more dependent on computers and the Internet.

Stunning visuals by Eric Dunlap, a permanent live camera tour by Andrea Gabriel (also responsible for the recorded videos) and perfectly coordinated lighting and sound design by Lars Deutrich add an electronic level to the presentation that’s not only completely contemporary, but makes sense here too. The script, adapted by Caroline Peters, tells the story of a woman who once received a call from her father. Like her, he lives 2.5 km away from her in a place as described above, and he wants to tell her something and ask her to go out into the street and not just physically but come to him physically.

This initial situation puts his daughter in conflict, as she is supposed to leave her protective environment against all orders and go to an area that has no idea what awaits her there. Mind control has advanced so far that any experience outside the Four Walls is no longer desirable, and the basic principle applies: to stand still is progress and what I do not try cannot go wrong. In fact, in the end, the daughter manages to free herself from her watchdog companion Isadora, who immediately draws comparisons to Alexa, Siri, or other active electronic assistants. In addition to describing everyday life, which Peters reproduces with great acting skill, whether it’s a recipe you want Isadora to implement, receiving voice calls or watching video lectures, she dazzles with multiple roles in the scene at the table with theirs. Friends are invited. They are all pre-recorded by her and, with the push of a button, gather around the setting table in a virtual space in the order – as we know them from real life – to show off, appear anxious, astonish or admire each other, according to the respective characters to allow.

Lars Deutrich on the electronic sound machine and Andrea Gabriel as the mute Isadora, who captures everything with her live cam and keeps it at the same time, are permanently present on stage. Peters and Gabriel both wear bright green costumes with a spider pattern – a symbol of web entrapment, but seen as stylish and necessary. (Flora Miranda fashion) It is not only the dummy setting that impresses, but also the text, which contains a whole series of dazzling sentence pearls such as: “Since the epidemic, we have known that viruses and technology are growing exponentially”, “Knowledge is a kind of fantasy”, “Deep Intelligence is also just another form of cheating” or “For time its ring, its ring its freedom” — overwriting the saying of Hevesi, which is inscribed above the Vienna Secession. These are just some of the phrases one would like to read at home because of the additional wealth of philosophical thoughts, good visions and visions of the future.

The smart and open ending leaves a taste of relief and dread at the same time, and in no way hides the digital future we already find ourselves in.

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