Languages: English & German
Running time: 55 minutes
This is the story of journalist Sylvia von Harden, told as she sits for her famous portrait by Otto Dix (1926). Through multi-media and live performance /SYLVIA\ questions the line between object and subject: the relevance of the onlooker in our creation of (gender) identity, representation and truth.
Sylvia von Harden was a German journalist in 1920’s Berlin, made immortal by the renowned painter Otto Dix. A working woman, a woman who couldn’t sit still, but yet as she sits for her portrait, her story and life in the Weimar Republic unravels from her lips. As her words cross time, gender, language, and medium, we are asked to consider: are we once again at a turning point in history?
Our /SYLVIA\, inspired by the original text of Stéphane Ghislain Roussel, is about perspectives and ways of seeing: how every conceived world is determined by the subjectivity of the onlooker. The piece therefore is a conglomeration of perspectives on who Sylvia is, was and will be: Otto’s perspective, Stéphane’s, ours, yours and future theatre and museum goers. Each perspective no more valid than the other.
To us in modern Europe, it feels as though we are on the cusp of a new age. A tipping point as it were, which will lead either into catastrophe or glory. Sylvia’s Berlin was a place in which art blossomed, individual freedoms increased & where one “lived & died young”.
Where are we now, by comparison? Have we learned from the destruction of our past? How have we constructed what it is to be a ‘woman’ today, or are we beyond gender? What will be in store for us?
(Art has in the past mainly been produced by men, its subject women.)
“And all of this will make a portrait, that represents an era, whose subject is not the superficial beauty of a woman but much more her psychological state of mind.” – Otto Dix
Is our identity prescribed by the men who have shaped our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers in art? – Pygmalion, Greek myth
Find out more about the company
Ja?TheatreCompany is a collective of three female theatre makers, that aims to overcome the ever-present dichotomy between British New Writing and ‘European’ Regie theater: Good writing + aesthetic are not mutually exclusive. Having worked with both, we believe in connecting and merging these traditions to push boundaries and ask questions. We adapt. We translate. We create.