‘In those television images of hysterically distressed people, I suddenly recognised scenes from Jeroen Bosch and Pieter Brueghel paintings. The insane behaviour of people confronted with death. These days such rituals take place in the street instead of in church.’

Krisztina de Châtel always wanted to create a performance about contemporary and ancient rituals. She also wanted to work with a choir, which is after all the origin of all theatre. By emphasising the original, ritual nature of the choir, she was able to fulfill both wishes, working with the Cappella Amsterdam choir and conductor Daniel Reuss.

The music for Obscura combines works by composer Hans Koolmees with early Gregorian chants. The collision of past and present that is featured in the choreography formed the starting point for Mike van de Lagemaat’s set design and fashion designer AZIZ’s costumes.

Krisztina de Châtel created Obscura (which literally means ‘dark’) after she became interested in the mass fascination with death that seems to have developed in contemporary society. The endless funeral processions, silent vigils and the applause for the deceased reminded her of medieval rituals. In this period which is saturated in death, death rituals blossomed as never before. These days science and technology make it possible to postpone death ever-further, but at the same time there seems to be a renewed need for mass rituals surrounding death and mourning. And obscurantism is by no means a thing of the past.

premiere 28 March 2003, Toneelschuur, Haarlem
concept Krisztina de Châtel, Christopher Fülling, Daniel Reuss
choreography Krisztina de Châtel
dance Eva-Maria Christ, Kenji Imukai, Andreas Kuck, Cecilia Moisio, Philipp Moritz Fricke, Keyna Nara/Barbara Louise Suters, Swantje Schäuble
music Hans Koolmees
stagedesign/light Mike van de Lagemaat
costumes AZIZ
photography Deen van Meer