A handmade book, read collectively by the audience inside of a sound installation. A response to the archive of the poet Constantine Cavafy, the work is inspired by the blank and torn out pages in Constantinopoliad, an epic, the journal the teenage Cavafy began when he and his family fled Alexandria; by lost and missing archives through time; and by the ghosts, both erotic and historical, that visit the older Cavafy in his poems.
Appearing like an open invitation-challenge to a journey at the borders of genders and diverse worlds, between East and West, to what you expect and what you have experienced through Cavafy, Constantinopoliad, the multi-prismatic and interactive performance devised by visual artist Kathryn Hamilton, aka Sister Sylvester, along with Egyptian musician Nadah El Shazly, visualizes the empty and blank pages of Constantinopoliad, the diary kept by Cavafy when he and part of his family had to flee Alexandria in a hurry for Constantinople.
The three-dimensional handmade book offered to you during the performance becomes the beginning of a multifaceted artistic experience accompanied by music, narration, a sound installation, and reading, even touching upon video installation and singing.
About Kathryn Hamilton
Visual artist Kathryn Hamilton, aka Sister Sylvester, is based in New York and Istanbul. She creates lecture performances and expanded documentaries. She is a current resident at ONX Studio. Her most recent film, Our Ark, co-directed with Deniz Tortum, premiered at IDFA in November 2021 and has screened at festivals internationally, including winning Best Short Film at the Istanbul International Film Festival. She teaches a bio-hacking performance class, “The School of Genetically Modified Theater,” at Colorado College, and has also taught or lectured at Princeton, UCCS, Columbia University, Bogazici, Istanbul and MIT.
Nadah El Shazly
Nadah El Shazly is known for her fresh and fearless performances and is a prominent and captivating voice in the electronic music underworld of her hometown, Cairo. Her debut album Ahwar both radically reinvents the popular music of her homeland and explores new sonic and harmonic frontiers, landing her on the cover of Wire as the voice of Cairo’s New Wave. Nadah is currently working on her second music album and continues to compose for film and moving image.
composer & performer Nadah El Shazly
video designer Jeremy Kadetsky, based on a design by Tei Blow
dramaturgy Andrew Kircher
illustrator & book codesigner Efrîn Nowar
lighting design & technical direction Bruce Steinberg
sound consultant Garth Macaleavey
sound engineer Daniel Dominguez
company & stage management Shiku Thuo
photos Zachary Schulman, Maria_Baranova, Frank Schmitt
Commissioned by The Onassis Foundation, supported by residencies at Onassis AiR, and with the support of the Cavafy Archive, Athens.
Premiered at National Sawdust as part of ‘Archive of Desire’ Festival, 2023.
The tour is supported by Onassis Stegi's "Outward Turn" cultural export program.
Since 1978, the Onassis Foundation has steadily invested in the fields of Culture, Education, and Health, always with a human-centric approach to its endeavors. The Onassis Stegi in Athens, serving as the hub of the Foundation’s cultural activities, encourages the talent and energy of local and international artists to thrive and starts conversations that aim to shake and shape society. Onassis Stegi is a center of global contemporary culture that, through a series of initiatives and works, promotes dialogue about democracy, social and environmental justice, racial and gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ rights.
Brandhaarden is an international theatre festival that brings performances by remarkable theatre makers from abroad to Amsterdam. The festival offers a unique overview of one creator, house, writer, region or theme. Previous editions have spotlighted directors such as Katie Mitchell, Milo Rau and the Rimini Protokoll collective, writer Édouard Louis, the Southern European region (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) and city theatres such as Münchner Kammerspiele, Volksbühne Berlin and Peter Brooks Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.
Fringe programme: Modern Myths
The fringe programme of Brandhaarden 2024 is all about Modern Myths. The word 'myth' has two meanings today. On the one hand, it denotes stories that contain a certain wisdom, and we speak with wonder about what we then call 'mythological'. On the other hand, we use the word to talk about lies and misconceptions. We invite the audience to reflect on the power of shared stories, but together will also look at how this can turn into widespread ideas that are not necessarily true and can thus further marginalise vulnerable communities.