fbpx Biennale Musica 2022 | Michel van der Aa - The Book Of Water
La Biennale di Venezia

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Michel van der Aa - The Book Of Water

Year / Length:2022, 70’, World premiere
Based upon:Man in the Holocene by Max Frisch adapted by Michel van der Aa
Narrator/Geiser:Samuel West (Geiser young)
Geiser (film):Timothy West (Geiser elderly)
Soprano film:Mary Bevan (Corrine)
String Quartet:Ensemble Modern
Violins:Jagdish Mistry, Giorgos Panagiotidis
Viola:Megumi Kasakawa
Cello:Eva Böcker
Composition, stage director, script:Michel van der Aa
Dramaturgy:Madelon Kooijman
Scenography advice:Theun Mosk
Light design:Bart van den Heuvel
Costume Design:Judith de Zwart
Technical production:Siemen van der Werf
Sound Design :Paul Jeukendrup
Stage Manager:Martijn van Nunen
Play-out operator:Fergus McAlpine
Light operator :Douwe Bulten
Sound operator:Tomas Valečka
Production Manager:Djoere de Jong / ProductieCollectief
Director of photography:Joost Rietdijk nsc
Executive producer film:Arjen Oosterbaan | Eastbound Films
Commission:La Biennale di Venezia, Ensemble Modern, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, November Music, Köln Philharmonie, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Tongyeong Festival.
Production:La Biennale di Venezia, doubleAFoundation (Foundation doubleA is supported by Performing Arts Fund NL), Performing Arts Fund NL
With financial support of:Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Ammodo, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Cultuurfonds Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten, Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Stichting Reinbert de Leeuw, Société Gavigniès, Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds


The Book of Water is a chamber music theatre project based upon the novella Man in the Holocene by Swiss author Max Frisch. The work centres around the character of Geiser, a 73-year-old widower, who is dealing with memory loss. In the adaptation of Frisch’s book by Michel van der Aa and dramaturg Madelon Kooijman extra focus is given to the continuous rain and flooding isolating Geiser in his house. These dangerous weather events link the work to the current topic of climate change. Not only is Geiser’s mind eroding; the landscape is also crumbling away, since the rainstorms raging outside are causing landslides and flooding. The Book of Water is a chillingly portrait of a man who is surrounded by erosion, nature’s and his own, and who struggles for one last moment of clarity in which to make sense of himself and of civilisation.

The text in The Book of Water is spoken by the actor on stage, and parts of the narrative are to be shown in the film projections. The string quartet is on stage with the actor and is an integral part of the scenography. The film is projected on surfaces made of stretched curtains that are positioned around and between the performers. The actor is able to create new visual perspectives by moving the curtains, following the dramatic arc of the piece. The film layer features prerecorded footage of the story’s protagonist Geiser, his daughter, and the villagers. The characters on film interact with the live actor and the musicians, extending the scenography on stage.

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Biennale Musica
Biennale Musica