When the composer Gustav Mahler was diagnosed with a fatal heart disease, he wrote to a friend:

‘I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and I have to learn my first steps again like a newborn.’

It was in this mood that Mahler wrote ‘Das Lied von der Erde’. The last of these songs, ‘Der Abschied’, was to be one of his most personal works, one that reflected his state of mind. Man’s struggle with his mortality, in contrast with nature, which is eternal and constantly renewing itself.

In FOREVER, Grace Ellen Barkey raises the same questions as Mahler: ‘No one can sustain constant praise of life. Death or, rather, the finiteness of human life deserves a song or a dance too.’

The song, and also the orchestration, is sung in an intimate setting as a recollection by Maarten Seghers, backed up by the dancers and the installation. The score of Mahler’s ‘Der Abschied’ is visible in the choreography of FOREVER.

Idea, choreography Grace Ellen Barkey

Installation Lemm&Barkey

Music Der Abschied, Das Lied von der Erde, Gustav Mahler

With Maarten Seghers, Sarah Lutz, Mohamed Toukabri

Musical dramaturgy Rombout Willems

Dramaturgy Elke Janssens

Sound Bart Aga / Pierrick Drochmans

Production & Technique Marjolein Demey, Gwen Laroche

Trainee assistant to the director Camille Doucet

A Needcompany production.

Coproduction: Steirischer Herbst, PACT Zollverein (Essen) and Internationales Figurentheater-Festival (Erlangen and Nürnberg).

With the support of the Flemish authorities.

Premiere: 24 September 2016, Steirischer Herbst Festival, Graz.

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