Sterben – A participatory performance of mourning

  • When: 04/22/21 – more dates will follow.
  • Where: Zoom.
  • Language: German.
  • Institution: Kampnagel Hamburg.

Take a moment to think about the following questions:

Who or what was your first big love?

What was your favorite toy as a child?

And now imagine that you are being asked these questions in order to write your funeral speech. We have gathered here today to mourn for you – welcome to your own funeral ceremony!

Deep insights into a stranger’s life are granted by the interactive mourning performance Ā»SterbenĀ« to an audience, who is sitting at home at the kitchen table or on the sofa. The person to be mourned, instead has the opportunity to participate in their own funeral ceremony, but being alive.

After a short introduction, we are guided through the theatre Kampnagel in Hamburg. We, the audience, are compressed onto a laptop that moves through the bustling theatre. Actors and technicians look mischievously into the screen and give us a friendly welcome.


A black room with a white, circular pedestal in the middle, flanked by palm trees. Performers with white, hanging robes solemnly greet us.

We, the audience, are no longer limited to a small laptop. Each viewer now has their own screen. Screen after screen is lined up in a semicircle around the room. We can watch ourselves watching and are watched while watching.

I take part in the memorial ceremony of Aglaja.

I learn that Aglaja has a boyfriend named Kai.

I learn that Aglaja is a list person and likes to dance around in clubs.

I learn that today is Aglaja’s first day leaving her apartment after surviving a COVID-19 infection.

I realize that Aglaja is part of the performance, but not a performer.

Aglaja – that could also be ME.

Dying – that will also happen to ME.

Life – I am right in the middle of it.

As we get drawn deeper and deeper into the actual life and the imagined death of Aglaja, the boundaries between what is to be experienced and what is to be observed oscillate. Far from physical co-presence, it is now the collectively spent time that produces an unrepeatable and unique performance. Instead of the gaze, it is now the camera work that determines the direction. Instead of the theatre, it is now my kitchen. Me in my kitchen in Berlin, 316 kilometers away from theatre Kampnagel in Hamburg – connected by a time-limited and singular virtual space.

The theatre is a flexible construct.

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