Cleopatra's Needles was a concert-performance featuring 100 portable cassette-radios, 5 dancers, 30 actors, 12 motor bikers, 12 veteran gymnastics and the Belgian saxophone quartet Bl!ndman Quartet. Performed at Bergenhus Fortress August 2000, as one of Bergen City of Culture’s more significant presentations in multimedia/performing arts. Photo: Marius Hauge.
The performance was created especially for Bergenhus Fortress, at which a green lawn is bounded by aged trees. At the far end of the lawn is an ivy-mantled bunker. The 'Ivy Wall' served as an acoustic, and natural base for the stage area of 'Cleopatra's Needles'. Tree-lined lanes encircle the lawn on the remaining three sides.
The performance was based on phenomena which have fascinated humankind as far back as the ancient world: Egypt's monuments and tombs. Our age is investigated in the light of historical developments dating thousands of years ago. Two starting points are central: construction and technology. The title 'Cleopatra's Needles refers to two 21-meter high obelisks from approx. 1500 B.C. Our modern 'obelisks' are constructed with cassette radios, however, rather than stone. They are also considerably lower, but on the other hand «uttering» and «sounding», constructed with our time's building blocks: technology. In the course of the performance, fiver dancers erect obelisks/towers composed of portable cassette radios. The sound emitted by the towers is one of edited radio signals: Morse code, binaural beats, and textures comprising various languages from radio stations around the world. The performance takes place at dusk, with the light altering throughout the 50-minute performance: from low sun and daylight, to dusk and finally darkness. Several parallel activities take place simultaneously: choreography in the alleyways - the building of the towers - motorbikes driving through the alleys -saxophonists and female gymnasts at the grass, dancers etc.
Time: 25-27 August 2000
Venue: Outdoors at Bergenhus Fortress
Composition and concept: Maia Urstad / MAUR Projects
Visual direction: Yngvar Julin
Costumes and scenographic elements: Svein Ove Kirkhorn
Saxophone quartet BLINDMANN Quartet (Belgium), dancer Suzie Davies, Ken Hioco, Lena Meland, Hege Holte Østbye, and Runa Rebne. Also in the performance were 30 actors, who among other activities carried the cassette radios - the mobile sound sources. Additionally were 12 female gymnasts averaging an age of 70, and 12 members from the motorcycle club 'Rolling Thunder'.
Produced by MAUR Projects / Maia Urstad
Co-producer: BIT Teatergarasjen