The latest Hermann Nitsch’s ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ the 6-day-play (2022)

2 mins read

“the 6-day-play of the o. m. theater is a work in progress. everything i’ve ever done, my action painting, all my performance actions, my music, they were all precursors for a never-to-be-completed work. in 1998 i succeeded in staging a possible version of the 6-day play in the orgies mysteries theater at prinzendorf. in 2022 i wish to stage another version of the 6-day play. the music, extended into organ sounds and escalating into music of the spheres, is becoming all the more essential.” Hermann Nitsch

24 years after the first staging of the 6-day play (1998), this summer the total work of art was condensed into a concentrated interplay of all its components. It was the cherished wish of Hermann Nitsch (*29 August 1938 in Vienna; Ϯ 18 April 2022 in Mistelbach) that his 6-day-play will be performed this year in the new version.

The performances of the 1st and 2nd days took place on 30 and 31 July 2022 in Schloss Prinzendorf. Rita Nitsch fulfilled Nitsch’s wish posthumously supported by a core team of Andrea Cusumano as musical director and Leo Kopp, Frank Gassner and Josef Smutný as directorial team. The other four days of the action will be performed in the following years.

The festival for all the senses was celebrated in and around Schloss Prinzendorf in Lower Austria, an hour’s drive from Vienna, where the artist lived and worked to the last.

“schloss prinzendorf became my theater. this castle complex was the ideal prerequisite for the orgies mysteries theater.”

hermann nitsch
Hermann Nitsch, das Orgien Mysterien Theater, 6-Tage-Spiel 2022,Tag 2 Bild 9 (c) Hermann Nitsch GmbH, Foto FEYERL

Hermann Nitsch’s idea for an action performance lasting six days and six nights goes back to the year 1957. At the time working with the medium of literature, the artist, influenced by the attempts of Richard Wagner and Alexander Scriabin to realise a total work of art, imagined his own action theater, oriented on synaesthetic experience engrossing all five senses: the Orgies Mysteries Theater.

The length is an analogy to the story of creation and is conceived as an extension of all monumental works of art. Thus, all the performed actions of the Orgies Mysteries Theater ever since the early 1960s need to be understood as part realisations of the 6-day-play.

The six days and nights of the Orgies Mysteries Theater follow a 776-page score composed by Nitsch. A total of sixty actors, along with one hundred musicians realised the artist’s vision this year. Besides the visual form, the music played a crucial role. “the music, extended into organ sounds and escalating into music of the spheres, is becoming all the more essential.”

The play’s course followed a symphonic concept with the attempt to make all senses experienceable in theater – taste and smell laboratories as well as smoking samples based on precise instructions from the score complemented the action. The arena for the performance was the castle grounds in Prinzendorf, encompassing all its rooms and spaces of its surroundings. The garden and courtyard, the mews, the granary, the gentle rolling hills with its vineyards, cornfields, and fruit trees, as well as the cellar lanes of the village, was integrated into the performance and formed the atmospheric backdrop.

The play participants was called on to sense and perceive what happened intensively as possible, to forget the variegated outside world and descend into the abysses of our being, but then ascend into radiant light. The festival ended on August 1st at sunrise – all the actors and the participants, embraced and kissed (as scored by Nitsch) and left the location “intoxicated with being”. (Via Nitsch Foundation)

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