« Equinoxe » is a creation and cultural cooperation project. It is one of the two French projects selected under the call "Cooperation with third countries" 2011 for Europe-Mexico projects of the European Programme Culture 2007-2013.
More than 20 Mexican, Hungarian, Slovakian and French artists: singers, musicians, dancers, actors, technicians have decided to work for 24 months on the conception, realization and diffusion of a stage show which transposes into the contemporary Mexican-American context Amerika, the first great novel by Franz Kafka, one of the most important authors of the 20th century.
The project is a sequel to the work of adaptation of The Castle, undertaken by Laurent Festas and the composer Karol Beffa.
The Castle was written in 1922, when Kafka already knew himself to be condemned. It reveals a Western civilization incapable of escaping from the absurdity of its own codes and functioning, which were as out-of-date as inescapable and inherited from a period whose values and beliefs had disappeared, thereby paralyzing any form of transcendence. Amerika, also known by the title The Man who Disappeared, (Der Verschollene), is less somber and remains an attempt on the part of Kafka to project himself as an exile in the United States, land of freedom and unbounded possibilities, which finally appears as a country whose justice has uncertain limits and which represents a vain attempt to renew Western civilization. The first image in the novel is of course striking from this point of view: New York's Statue of Liberty no longer brandishes her habitual torch, but a sword.
There are parallels in the two Kafka novels, The Castle and Amerika. The character of the young migrant Karl Rossmann reminds us of the "surveyor" or "vagabond artist" K. in The Castle. It is the same for many of the other characters, those in The Castle being old, feeble, ill or disabled. Amerika, with its imaginary journey to the heart of the United States, started in 1913, unfinished and published after the death of Kafka in 1924, describes the wanderings of Karl Rossmann, a young 17-year-old European emigrant who is alternatively adopted then rejected for no apparent reason by his rich uncle, Senator Jacob, and who travels around with two young drifters called Robinson and Delamarche. Karl finally obtains a job as lift attendant at the Western Hotel (reference to the Castle of Count Westwest), before being dismissed thanks to Robinson who, the worse for drink, comes to ask him for money while he is working. Karl, against his will, rejoins Robinson and Delamarche in the service of a singer, Brunelda, an allegorical, exuberant and deformed character, for whom he is forced to work. He finally escapes and responds to the request of the Grand Theatre of Oklahoma. He is engaged there as a technician after a long, strange, surrealistic procedure. When the tale ends he has just taken his seat on a ghost train on his way to take up his new job, traveling through wide, shadowy valleys...
CREATION AND MAYOR THEMES
From an aesthetic point of view, we wish to continue in our multidisciplinary fashion with artists and forms inspired by the wealth of European and Mexican viewpoints, but preserving a main theme based at the same time on research and a great contemporary musical work. Kafka did in fact consecrate to such enchanting music his last short story, published in his own lifetime in 1924 – Josephine Sängerin/the Singer or The People of the Mouse, the last metaphorical character in his writing, which he knew to be unique and about to disappear.
The idea of transposing this extraordinarily incomparable work by Franz Kafka came from a universe and literary style, which casts light more than any other on the wanderings and impasses of our epoch. Kafka's derision, both of himself and of a system having literally run out of breath (he died of tuberculosis on June 3rd 1924 in the Kierling Sanatorium near Vienna), desperate and hopeless, takes the reader back to the contemporary impostures of a world which no longer produces anything great except in the way of the absurd, the monstrous or, today, the consumable. This supposedly "free, just and democratic" society still finds it difficult to face the issues of exile or immigration. Amerika well describes the same symptoms of an oppressive and intangible system, which places the protagonist in a succession of strange situations: the individual is obliged to proclaim his innocence before the mysterious and evanescent figures of authority. The novel especially illuminates the issues of fundamental rights as concerns the individual and shows that the land of freedom is not the one hoped for, for this latter annihilates all desires for self-fulfillment and crushes many individuals.
A EUROPEAN AND TRANSATLANTIC PROJECT
Today the border between Europe and North Africa or the Mediterranean, which is continually moving southwards, kills as many or more than that between Mexico and the United States. The migratory problem and, on a wider scale, that of physical and cultural mobility, are one of the crucial issues of our age because it is in relation to this that we find the founding principals and heart of our humanity. The migratory theme and the Europe/America transposition, reminding some of us of sombre periods in our history, and which will rely on original testimonies of migrants from the South of Mexico towards the United States, take us away from a European-Mediterranean context where this question can no longer be evaded, particularly after the Arab spring.
As a European project, the ambition is therefore to renew the contribution of artistes often situated in sectors outside the great urban centres of Europe and Mexico, but who can bear witness to the complexity of present-day problems and, from their Hungarian, Slovakian, French or Central Mexican position, wish to open the way to new aesthetics based on mixed culture and rich in meaning.
The project is therefore one of transatlantic collaboration, of meetings and novel multidisciplinary research around a common work, with, beyond the periods of residential creativity, time for exchange and an important place for the initiation, education and heightening awareness of the general public, but also of the school, amateur and professional public.
- Laurent FESTAS (FR), director
- Karol BEFFA (FR), composer
- Tamás BAKÓ (HU), choreographer
- Laura Vera ESPERANZA (MX), choreographer
- Johan FARJOT (FR), conductor, pianist and musical director
- Till FECHNER, baryton
- Nurani HUET (MX), singer
- Edelina KANEVA, soprano
- Geneviève LAURENCEAU (FR), violin
- Lizbeth OCHOA (MX), singer
- Gemma ROSEFIELD, cello
- Ensemble Laurenceau, chamber orchestra
- Euroculture choir
- Ágnes DOMONKOS (HU)
- Bertrand FESTAS (FR)
- Tamás BAKÓ (HU)
- Laura Vera ESPERANZA (MX)
- Caroline LEMIERE (FR)
- Giovanni Adrián PÉREZ ORTEGA (MX)
- Reynaldo MARTÍNEZ SANTIAGO (MX)
- Valentina BRESSAN, (FR) technical director & responsible for the constructions
- Eva CLINCOKOVA (SK), costume designer
- Iveta JURCOVA (SK), set designer
- Michal DITTE (SK), graphic designer
- Réka SZUCS (HU), visual artist
- Zoltán VIDA (HU), light designer