About the Project
“We see that in the organic world, as thought grows dimmer and weaker, grace emerges more brilliantly and decisively. (…) Grace appears most purely in that human form which either has no consciousness or an infinite consciousness. That is, in the puppet or in the god.”
— Heinrich von Kleist in ‘On the Marionette theatre’
A tragi-comic tale about an existential self-styled guru who thinks they can lead humanity to salvation. Through a journey of dance, text & puppetry they will prove that ‘Grace’ is hidden in the example of the marionette. A tribute to the powers of perseverance, imagination and belief.
Dance-theatre created for church interiors by award winning, international theatremaker Ester Natzijl. With the artistic support of Rachel Blackman, Matt Rudkin and participants of the Kemptown community.
Funded by The Dutch Embassy London & Arts Council Funding EnglandWith support from South East Dance and Vincent Dance Theatre.
Drawing on interviews and research undertaken over 12 months, the project explored what the concept of Grace means, or could mean to people and how we can visualise the experience of Grace. The soundtrack of the show interweaves extracts of the voices of interviewees.
The show is loosely based on the essay ‘On the Marionette Theatre’ (1810) by German writer and poet Heinrich Von Kleist. Kleist is convinced that a marionette has a kind of Gracefulness in itself due to its lack of self-consciousness and the fact it is moved by a ‘higher power’.
In the show, the marionette will be the role model for becoming a more content and overall more ‘graceful’ human being. The protagonist main claim is that through his method, anyone is able to take clear practical steps into having an experience of Grace and kill the ‘over-conscious self’ that is the cause of so much anxiety and dissatisfaction.
Ester Natzijl Projects focus on multi-disciplinary theatre, combining dance, drama and puppetry. They express timeless, psychological concepts such as inner struggles, the search for meaning, illusions and identity. All subjects focus mainly on visualizing hope, strength and perseverance through the use of these popular forms.
On Ester Natzijl Projects
"This stunning performance redefines our opinion of what puppetry actually means but beyond that it also redefines the possibilities for both theatre and dance in a performance that will long in both the memory and the soul."
“Yet this show is more than simply clever technique and accomplished dance; this is a deep and moving piece of theatre, rich with meaning; it speaks of desire and fear, attraction and narcissism, the other and the self ”
"There’s something mesmerising about good puppetry that makes you forget you are watching an artificial creation and in Ester Natzjil’s haunting Watching, ceci n’est pas de deux we witness a defining moment in dance, drama and puppetry."
"'Inspirational as a great piece of theatre but also inspirational for actions lived not staged."
“Rich in philosophy, humour, bold and in the disturbing unknown.Ester brings her marionette to thrilling life.”
Paul Levy Fringe Review
Concept, Text, Choreography and Performance: Ester Natzijl
Text Assistance, Production: Matt Rudkin
Composer, Musical Advice: Gary Shepherd
Artistic support/end-direction: Rachel Blackman
Choreographical Advice: Dickson Mbi
Lighting Design: Jim Hendtlass
Marionette: Jan Zalud
Photos: Rosie Powel
A dramaturgical session with Lou Cope
Marionette advice: Ronnie Le Drew
Costume: Gladrags Costume Hire
With huge thanks for the all-round support from Julian Caddy
Supported by: Arts Council England, The Embassy of the Netherlands in the UK, Vincent Dance Theatre and South East Dance.