First Sorrow – Circus Trilogy after Kafka

Summary - Information about the piece

The Trapeze Artist

A trapeze artist had so arranged her life that she never came down from her trapeze by night or day. But one day she realized that one trapeze wasn't enough anymore: “Only this one bar in my hands—how can I live?”

With the circus literature by Franz Kafka and Jean Genet, Jana Korb examines the existential essence of aerial arts, the art of aerial arts. She explores the topic of circus in literature and brings it back as theatric performance into the circus. With narration as the starting point, she develops her own circus body language. It is about dependencies, intransigence, and everlasting temporary – high up on the trapeze.

Versions

Trilogy - Duett - Aerial theater, acrobatic lecture and Chinese pole (70min.), in German, English etc.
For theaters or open air at trapeze rig / Chinese pole

All three scenes can also be performed separately:

Aerial theater - Solo on fix trapeze (35min.), in German, Czech, English etc.
For theaters or open air at trapeze rig

Acrobatic lecture - Duett (10min.), in German, English etc.

Chinese pole grotesque - Solo on pole (25min.), without words
For theaters or open air with outdoor pole

>> Technical requirements
>> Summary - PDF download
>> Technical rider - PDF download

Erstes Leid, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger

First Sorrow, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger


Erstes Leid, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger

First Sorrow, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger


Erstes Leid/Die Trapezkünstlerin, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger

First Sorrow/The Trapeze Artist, Foto: Nioclás Seeliger

First Sorrow - Circus Trilogy after Kafka

First Sorrow consists of three parts, three times the same story, told from different perspectives. Three times narrative circus, solo or duett - feature-lenght program. Each part is whole in itself and can be performed as a short piece or show.

First Sorrow - acrobatic lecture
"Yet the manager never knew a happier moment until the trapeze artist set her foot on the rope ladder and in a twinkling, at long last, hung up high on her trapeze."

A grotesque lecture, in which both artists perform both the characters of the trapeze artist and the impresaria. Performed without a trapeze - but the audience will picture the trapeze non the less...

Acrobatic lecture, duett with Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt (ca. 10min)

n.n. - Chinese pole grotesque
"Occasionally, perhaps, some theater hand gazed up into the great height of the roof,
almost beyond eyeshot, where the trapeze artist practiced her art or rested."

Chinese pole solo with Anja Gessenhardt (ca. 25min)

The Trapeze Artist - aerial theater
A trapeze artist had so arranged her life that she never came down from her trapeze by night or day. But one day she realized that one trapeze wasn't enough anymore: “Only this one bar in my hands—how can I live?”

With the circus literature by Franz Kafka and Jean Genet, Jana Korb examines the existential essence of aerial arts, the art of aerial arts. She explores the topic of circus in literature and brings it back as theatric performance into the circus. With narration as the starting point, she develops her own circus body language. It is about dependencies, intransigence, and everlasting temporary – high up on the trapeze.

Aerial theater on solo trapeze (35min.), in German, Czech, English etc.

A long term research project

Not only has Jana been working with Kafka's story "First Sorrow" for one specific production - the story has been accompanying her and her partner Anja Gessenahrdt since the beginnings of their circus arts career. For them, the story of the trapeze artist, living on her trapeze to become a better artist, has become a symbol for artistic creation - not just circus creation, but artistic creation in general. So Jana is not only interested in the kafkaesque storyline (existential, dark, and hopeless), she rather examines the trapeze artist's urge to create.

During their research process they created more than four different productions based on this story. Jana approaches the topic from different sides: from the ground with their acrobalance duett, from the air on the trapeze, with and without text, from different points of view, and in long term performances of up to six hours on the trapeze (this was the most literal adaptation so far).

Jana's recent production, her trapeze solo fo appr. 35min, is situated between choreographed circus performance, improvisation, and work with text. The figur of the trapeze artist is changing between theatrical character (Jana acting as Kafkas's trapeze artist), narrator (Jana telling the story of Kafka's trapeze artist), and herself (Jana is the trapeze artist). By this being-in-between she delicately approaches those big topics of art, death, intransigence - without becoming theatrical or kitschy. She creates a fragile presence on the trapeze, transcending corporeal peak performance and circus archetype. She tries to unhinge contemporary circus from its denotations "Modern Man", "Progress", and "Conquering Nature", and tries to find new definitions.

Die Trapezkünstlerin, Foto: Vojtech Brtnicky

Die Trapezkünstlerin, Foto: Vojtech Brtnicky

 

_MG_6829

Die Trapezkünstlerin, Foto: Knockaert Fobe

 

kl_J9A9293

Die Trapezkünstlerin

 

Die Trapezkünstlerin,

Die Trapezkünstlerin

 

kl-kafka-janakorb-tobias-stiefel

Die Trapezkünstlerin, Foto: Tobias Stiefel

 

 

Previous productions in this cycle

In the course of our almost 20 years of working with the story "First Sorrow" - by Franz Kafka, from his collection "The Hunger Artist" - we created and perfromed several performances and pieces. Here a selection:

First Sorrow
Acrobatic lecture
Idea and performance: Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt
Premiere 1999
Acrobalance, ca. 10min
German or English

The Grand Show
Circus theater based on stories by Kafka, Genet, Böll
Idea and performance: Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt
Premiere 2000
Acrobalance, physical theater, martial arts, ca. 45min
German

The Trapeze Artist
Freak show performance
Idea: Friederike Berat und Jana Korb
Performance: Jana Korb
Premiere 2010
Trapeze solo, long term performance (2-6 hours)
no words

The Trapeze Artist - Aerial Theater
Aerial theater
Performance: Jana Korb
Director: Anja Gessenhardt
Dramaturgical eyes: Julia Christ, Benjamin Richter
Premiere 2013, premiere street theater version 2016
Trapeze solo, ca. 35min
German, Czech, English, French, Portuguese, Dutch or other

First Sorrow - Circus Trilogy after Kafka
Circus theater
Performance: Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt
Dramaturgy: Lena Fritschle
Premiere 2017
Trapeze solo, acribalance, chinese pole, ca. 70min
German or English

Credits

First Sorrow - Circus trilogy after Kafka
Circus theater by and with Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt
ca. 70min.

Idea, performance: Jana Korb and Anja Gessenhardt
Dramaturgy: Lena Fritschle
---
First part:
The trapeze artist: Anja Gessenhardt
The impresaria: Jana Korb
---
Second part:
The stage worker: Anja Gessenhardt
The trapeze artist: Jana Korb

Outside eye: Lionel Menard
---
Third part:
The trapeze artist: Jana Korb
The impresaria: Anja Gessenhardt

Director: Anja Gessenhardt
Dramaturgic counsel: Julia Christ
Adaptation for street theater: Benjamin Richter
Production: Korb + Stiefel

Stage setup outdoor version

(for indoor version, please talk to us):
Ideally we have three stages around the audience. The audience is sitting on chairs or benches and has to turn their attention to whatever stage we perform on. Other setups are possible after consultation.

Acrobatic Lecture
Elevated Stage: 3m x 5m with appr. 1m elevation
Height: min. 4m
Floor: even floor, ideally black

Chinese Pole
Ground: 6m x 6m, height: min. 5,50m
Floor: even floor
Rigging: 3 rigging points or anchors on the ground (or close to the ground lower than 2m height) min. 5m away from the pole with min. 3,5kN / 350 kg working load per rigging point
Pole: we bring our own pole and rigging material
Safety: round crash mat with hole in the middle for pole, diameter min. 2m, 20cm thick (or we bring our own)

Aerial rig:
Free standing three legged pyramid
Height: 8m
Ground space: ca. 6m x 6m
Ground space for setup: 6m x 16m

Setup by Jana Korb and team.
The ground must be flat and even, free of equipment and obstacles. The aerial space must be free of obstacles, not closer than 2m.

Setup: ca. 3h
Take down: ca. 2h

Light:
If performed in dusk or darkness we need:
Basic white light to illuminate the performance spaces, and a follow spot. For the trapeze it is important for most of the scene that there is light on the trapeze, without light on the ground.

Sound:
We need a sound system, appropriate for the size of the audience, with four speakers to be controlled separately. We bring our own player (to connect by mini jack) and two headset microphones (to connect by XLR).

>> Infos "Trilogy" - PDF download
>> Infos "Trapeze solo" - PDF download
>> Technical rider "Trilogy" - PDF download