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Theater Piece n ° 1

"Theater Piece No. 1 was one of Cage's first large-scale collaborative multimedia performances that were created and performed during class at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.


The play was called "The Event" by many and included several simultaneous performance components - all orchestrated by Cage, with chance playing a crucial role in the course of the performance. Some of the components in "The Event" were: readings, music, dance, slide projections, film and four panels from Robert Rauschenberg's White Paintings (1951), which were hung in the form of a cross on the ceiling, Cage sat on a step ladder and gave lectures on Buddhism or said nothing, and MC Richards and Charles Olson read various poems on ladders while Rauschenberg played Edith Piaf.


Merce Cunningham danced in the audience (chased by a barking dog), coffee was served by four boys in white, and David Tudor played and improvised notes on a prepared piano, with pieces of cloth and wood between the strings. Cage composed the piece in such a way that each participant did what he wanted at fixed intervals and within certain parameters, but the overriding random principle determined the course of events.


The multimedia properties of No. 1 are a wonderful example of the Neo-Dada movement and its inclusion of everyday life in modern art. This early happening shaped later developments in modern art, in particular the increasing focus on the outside world, as evidenced by later movements such as Fluxus, Minimalism and Conceptualism, as well as performance art in general. " (Link to source)

Reenactment: During workshops of several weeks as part of the X-Mountain project in Berlin, the artists Be van Vark, Sven Seeger and Alexandre Decaupigny adapted Cage's famous work with a group of performers in an inflatable, white, balloon-like installation room of the Raumlabor Berlin.


Directed by Be van Vark, Sven Seeger

Actors: Sonya Noya, Sophie Wirth, Florian Hoffmeier, Franziska M.

Sound / Music: Alexandre Decaupigny

Stage Be van Vark & ​​Raumlabor Berlin

Photography: Aris Kallidromitis

Produced and funded by: S27 - Art & Education, COOP-Campus Berlin, Projektfond Kulturelle Bildung Berlin

Berlin, Germany, 2017

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