The Great War
Hotel Modern & Arthur Sauer
Presented by Adelaide Festival
THEATRE / NETHERLANDS
Australian Premiere / Adelaide Exclusive
Dutch live-animation theatre company Hotel Modern, whose chilling production Kamp from the 2013 Adelaide Festival lives in many memories, again confronts profound horror with a kind of epic intimacy. Performers arrange and animate convincing miniature worlds created from sawdust, rusty nails, parsley and other household paraphernalia with tiny cameras that project on to a giant screen. Ignited mist from cans of WD-40 becomes conflagrations engulfing whole townships. And all the while composer/foley artist Arthur Sauer synchronizes amplified match strikes, manipulated sheets of old metal, sticks on drum pads and triggered digital samplers to create the soundtrack of thundering shells and Gatling guns.
The Great War’s script was adapted from interviews with veterans, and diaries and letters from various soldiers, especially the letters from a French soldier discovered decades after the war ended. As he describes both the mundanities of life in the trenches and the horrors of battle, the performers craft their spectacular magic. Though the performance unfolds entirely in view of the audience, the chasm between illusion and reality quickly closes, and we live the immensity of a war that claimed millions of lives.
Since its premiere in 2001, The Great War has enjoyed worldwide acclaim, and on the centenary of the WWI Armistice it is a reminder of the timeless horrors of combat and the unique potency of theatre to bring its lessons to visceral, compelling life.
An astonishingly inventive and unbearably touching production. BBC Radio
... all the high-tech tools of cinematography and sound design combined with the most primitive human instruments — our hands — to create a rich and moving experience. Huffington Post
Deeply original and enthralling. Sunday Herald UK
Image: Joost van den Broek