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Alter grauhaariger Mann sitzt an einem Küchentisch

Michael von der Aa - The Book of Water

DoubleA foundation, Amsterdam (NL)

Geiser, a 73-year-old widower, is struggling with memory loss. Extreme weather conditions have trapped him in his house and completely isolated him from the outside world. But it is not only Geiser's memory that is failing, his surroundings are also literally crumbling due to heavy rains that cause floods and landslides. The Book of Water paints a chilling portrait of a man who has become a victim of erosion, both of nature and of himself. He frantically tries to maintain control by storing up as much knowledge as he can in clippings from books, encyclopedias, and the Bible. His store of knowledge becomes a great jumble of incoherent ideas. While the natural world seems to crumble around him, Geiser places all his faith in known facts,"no knowledge without memory". The loss of his memory is what he fears most.

The Book of Water is an innovative chamber music theatre piece by composer, film and theatre director and librettist Michel van der Aa for string quartet, actors, and video. The work is based on the novella Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (Man Appears in the Holocene) by Swiss author Max Frisch.

In The Book of Water, Van der Aa fuses stage space and video. The projection materials of the stage are also used in the film. The physical world of the stage actors and musicians is drawn into the film world. The text is spoken on stage by the actor (Samuel West) and parts of the story are projected in the form of video images. The string quartet on stage is an integral part of the production. The video images are projected onto taut curtains that hang around and between the actors and musicians. The video element consists of pre-recorded images of the main character Geiser (Timothy West), his daughter and other villagers. The characters in the video react to the actors and musicians on stage and vice versa, creating an interaction with the production.

The Book of Water will premiere at the Venice Biennale in September 2022 and then tour internationally to cities in Europe, Asia, and the USA. The tour of The Book of Water is made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Further information:


September 19, 2022 (world premiere with Ensemble Modern)
Teatro Goldoni, Venice Biennale

November 8, 2022 (German premiere with Ensemble Modern)

November 11, 2022 (Netherlands premiere with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
Muziekgebouw Amsterdam

November 13, 2022 (with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
Festival November Music Verkadefabriek, 's-Hertogenbosch

November 14, 2022 (with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
De Doelen, Rotterdam

November 16, 2022 (with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

November 17, 2022 (with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
Wilminktheater, Enschede

November 18, 2022 (with Amsterdam Sinfonietta)
Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden

February 21 – 25, 2023
Hong Kong Arts Festival (Asian premiere with Esmé Quartet)

March 31 – April 9, 2023
Tongyeong International Festival, South Korea (South Korean premiere with Esmé Quartet)

April 17 – 24, 2023
New World Symphony Miami

Spring 2024
Kölner Philharmonie (with Ensemble Modern)