Note on “History of the Future” by Christian Lollike
In his new play, History of the Future, Christian Lollike is examining the perplexity modern man is experiencing facing the world of today. Preoccupied with encircling the borderlines separating those who count and those who do not, those who can be seen and those who can not, Lollike questions the current state of democracy through out the world.
History of the Future is divided into a prologue and 3 parts; the first part consists of a satirical role play, the second part manifests itself as a musical collage for 5 voices, and the third and last part is structured as a negotiation between the actors of the play with regard to the further development of the plot.
At the beginning of the play, five actors from The Royal Theatre of Denmark appear on stage, discussing how to actualize the task they have been given, namely to examine the state of global democracy 20 years after the fall of the Berlin wall. Not knowing how to approach this issue, the actors end up inventing a character – an “average man” incarnated by a female taxi driver – to whom they delegate the task of telling the history of the future. Now the stage has been set, the story can begin…
In part one, the story of the female taxi driver unfolds in a playful, farce-like and dramaturgically rather well structured and logical manner. In a city somewhere in Europe a taxi driver is doing her job and doing her best to keep life at an arm length’s distance. Thus she attempts not to get involved with the customers, ranging from transnational company owners to acclaimed democracy loving politicians, who continuously enter and exit her cab. One day, however, a bunch of mysterious and invisible “ghosts” enter the car. They are on the run from the so called free zone, they say, and it seems there is no room for them in global democracy. The next thing she knows, they are gone again, and driven by a vague sense of justice, the taxi driver spends the rest of part I trying to track down the mysterious passengers. Along the way, however, she gets distracted by a socalled politically engaged art dealer who decides to include her as a readymade in an art show on everyday life. Accompanied by the art dealer the taxi driver thus ends up in a gigantic outdoor art work consisting of among others staged ethnic cleansings and re-enactments of Abu Graib photo shootings.
In Part II, which is structured as a concert for 5 voices, some of the invisible ghosts that the taxi driver met in part I, step forward and raise their voices. The voices stem from different parts of the world, such as Bangladesh, America, Russia and Africa, but what binds them together is the fact that they all appear to be located in a state of exception; i.e. outside the framework of normal legislative practice.
In part III the more or less causal logical dramaturgy that defined part I, breaks down. Obviously, the 5 actors from The Royal Theatre of Denmark feel rather lost with regard to what the taxi driver – the average Western citizen – should do faced with the voices from part II. The irresoluteness of the actors results in them taking turns to present a vast repertoire of different imaginable endings of The History of the Future. None of the endings, however, are able to cover up the fact that no matter what direction the taxi driver decides to head, she will not be able to change the fact that one’s chances of being acknowledged as human and therefore as appearing within the democratic laws of the so called civilized world, tends to depend purely on on which side of the invisible line separating those who count and those who do not count in the public opinion, one is born.
Stylistically, the play ranges from farce-like comedy style, to grotesque realism, to rhythmical semi-musical passages for chorus. All the way through the performance, however, the actors will stress the theatrical and artificial character of the situation by jumping in and out of different roles. That is, the processual, not sealed-off character of the roles is to be maintained, and the acting style of the actors will not manifest itself in psychological realism but instead in an eclectic and playful assemblage of acting styles. With regard to the set design, the playfulness of the acting is put at the forefront. Thus, a giant match box car track that the actors continuously add parts to during the performance defines the forefront of the stage. Likewise referencing the taxi of the play, moveable screens with projections of images recorded through the back windows of taxis from all over the world, are central elements of the set design. Besides, a video interview (conducted by Lollike) with asylum seekers from the much debated Danish asylum centre Center Sandholm will be projected on the screens during the third part of the performance. As far as the back of the stage is concerned, it is defined by a wall designed as a Jacobs ladder (i.e. a toy consisting of blocks held together by strings with the ability of creating visual illusions such as blocks cascading down the strings), and thus the surface of the wall is able to change during the performance. Possibly a living dog, hopefully causing a strong sense of unpredictability, might be controlling a part of the back of the stage too.
As far as music is concerned, a soundscape consisting of fragments of musical traditions from all over the world will be a vital part of the performance.