Around the World in 80 Days
based on the novel by Jules Verne
written by Nikolaus Frei
director - Kim Mira Meyer
music - Victor Ardelean
stage design and costume - Gretl Kautzsch
Phileas Fogg, a well-to-do gentleman of London´s High Society is stuck in his cell in Liverpool. His mad race around the globe in 80 days has been interrupted by his arrest – just before completing of his journey and winning his bet. But there is no stopping Phileas Fogg and so he begins his tale. Cool and composed he practices reporting past events for his betting partners of the Reform Club, for the press, maybe even the queen who just might grant him, the saviour of the empire, an audience! After all, Phileas Fogg has ploughed through the world in steamships and trains in the service of progress without looking left or right, letting nothing get in his way – from Suez via Bombay and Kalkutta to China and Japan, across the Pacific Ocean, through America and back to England. Now, Phileas Fogg is telling the story of these events to himself in order to pass the time.
But time is running short – not only for his bet but also for the world out there that Phileas Fogg believed to be able to conquer through rigid discipline… is that world even still out there? Can it exist without HIM, the white, civilised, self-empowered man of success who subdued the earth and has shaped it through his will? Why won´t anyone open the prison door for him? Slowly, it dawns on Phileas Fogg that he may be trapped in this empty room forever, within his head, in which he, the first global player, imperialist, capitalist, so adept when it comes to calculating and planning, may not only lose his bet but has also been lost to nature and humanity long ago by ignoring them mercilessly and successfully through his blind quest for private profit.
. This new, uncommon interpretation of Verne´s novel has three goals: first, to provide a version of the text that adheres to the subtle critique of civilisation of the original, focussing mainly on the inner void of the „Western Approach“ that aims exclusively for profit, efficiency and logic. Second, bridging the gap to the past (the rise of financial economy, unscrupulous creation of dependency and radical subjugation of colonies) on one hand as well as to the present where the catastrophic consequences of this course of action become more and more obvious (exploitation of people in the name of maximising profit, the near total extinction of indigenous people and culture like the Native Americans, ecological problems due to the mechanisation of the planet etc.).
Kim Mira Meyer,
Only a single actor will take on this adaptation of Jules Verne´s famous classic „Around the World in 80 Days“. He will play the world traveller Phileas Fogg who tells of his famous journey and thereby fills the empty room with his fantasy and his memories: With his companions Passepartout, Fix and Aouda whom he summons through his imagination in front of the audience, making them audible and visible, but also with strange and fascinating medlodies, sounds, images and impression of the countries and cultures which he left behind in the breathless rush of his journey.
The music will fullfil two main functions: On the one hand it is supposed to reveal the emotions of the protagonist Phileas Fogg; on the other, it is supposed to represent the real world travelled by the protagonist in an acoustic manner. The music ensemble was decided to be a string quintet (two violins, viola, two celli). This decision had been made due to the expressive potential of the string instruments which resemble the human voice.
Contentwise, the music will consist of four themes which portray and characterise Mr Fogg, Passepartout, Ms Aouda and Mr Fix, respectively.
The production requires first and foremost a closed space, a prison cell. The enclosed space of the theatre will serve as such, the fourth wall facing the audience will be missing. Within this „prison space“ - which forces its inmate, Phileas Fogg, into a waiting situation even though time is pressing – the journey that has happened in the near past will be recapitulated. The individual stages of his journey arise from his narrations, his imagination. Within the black box of this prison space, a cube of 6x6x6 metres is marked off with ropes. It symbolises the inner world of Phileas Fogg. The cube is surrounded by an ambulatory. Behind it, vis a vis the audience, the orchestra will be located (in case of live music), a dancer can move outside the cube.