Matthias or Franziska, Astrid or Robert, Ben or Emma. We’re given first names when we’re still in the cradle. Once registered, that name then stays with us for a lifetime. But what role does this name play in our lives? What does it contain? Does it shape us or do we fill it with meaning? What might it be like to be someone else and to live under another name?
In “My Other Life” Mats Staub uses the simple question ‘What if…’ to remind us of the coincidence or fate by which one small decision can have a big influence on our life. As in his earlier projects he collects faces and voices – and here in one place a great many people get to say something – to be precise, one word: their other name.
“Heide Merk, former Deputy Prime Minister of Lower Saxony would have been a Peter, Die Sterne’s singer Frank Spilker an Andrea and Martine Dennewald, Theaterformen’s Artistic Director, Marc. They and 206 other members of the festival’s audience, staff and artists were asked by Mats Staub to think about what would have happened if they had been born a different gender. The video recordings that were made during the first few days of the festival in a darkened room in the foyer have been edited down into a silent masterpiece; ‘My Other Life’. Each of them says their other name, the one they would have been given if they had not come into the world as the boy or girl they were. People are seen contemplating. Some of them laugh, others look rather dubious, yet more are thinking – about missed opportunities or those they took? Who knows? A woman called Laszlo takes a deep breath, a short, curly-haired woman called Philipp giggles a lot. There’s also a man called Chantale: he doesn’t look happy. What if? This is something you ask yourself watching this 45 minute long film. Watching others you start to see your own life – this fundamental principle of theatre is realized here so gently, so persuasively and so touchingly in visual form that it reaches deep into your soul. Wonderful.”
Neue Presse, 09.07.2015
“The material Mats Staub works with is memory. His work has already been seen on several occasions at Theaterformen. But none of his projects were ever as reduced, as wordless as one. The art of possibility he presents here is one that is both irritating and touching (…). It is one moment in which someone is utterly absorbed in themselves, where one can see someone thinking about themselves and their life and wondering whether it could have been different.”
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.07.2015
Initiative, Concept, Direction: Mats Staub
Camera: Benno Seidel
Music: Andrea Brunner
Design: Krispin Heé
Production Manager: Klaas Werner
Co-producer: Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Festival Theaterformen, Short Theatre Festival Rome, European Forum Alpbach