Beau Fort 10
A Solo performance by Maren Strack and post theater [new york/berlin/tokyo] about Female Aviation Pioneers, Wind and Force
As Maren Strack was storing props at her grandmother‘s farm she came across her grandfather‘s stamp album. It exclusively contained postage stamps with portraits of female pilots, among them one of the star flier Amelia Earhart.
On it was the note „donated by Elly Beinhorn“*. Her grandmother explained that between 1910 and 1920 her great grandfather leased a portion of the estate lands out as an airfield because in early air travel it was necessary to have many posts for stopovers. The grandfather often helped with small repairs and swinging the propellers. Once he even flew with them. On the first side of the album Maren Strack discovered a dedication: „To my treasure from your lady flier - Elly“.
*after Earharts disappearance in the South Sea, the German pilot financed a
memorial stamp for her American counterpart.
When the number 10 on the Beaufort scale is reached, the wind is called „strong storm“. It is a wind speed of about 100 kilometers per hour – a force that tears the string of a kite. And it is the speed of historic aircrafts when taking off.
For many centuries the ancient dream of flying has been employed for public spectacles. From the Renaissance onwards flying experiments fused science and entertainment. Especially ballooning used to be a crowd pleaser – commissioned for celebrations of kings and emperors. From these early days on women played a special role in these aerial shows. Female singers would sing from balloons or girls would leap into the void with a parachute.
The female pioneers of aviation in the early 20th century continued this tradition – in propeller machines. They became stars whose achievements were covered by various media. Flight shows attracted the masses. In a time, when only few people had ever been inside of an airplane, the sight of aircrafts was already a sensation – the more when women were controlling them. There were several female celebrity pilots who were matching up their male counterparts in both aviation success and popularity.
Pilots were projection screens for the dream of flying – the overcoming of gravity, the elevation over the earth and every-day-life. These themes are the core of „Beau Fort 10’s“ narrative.
Maren Strack and post theater have found various ways to translate achievements of aviation technology to performance techniques on stage. Strack performers inside of a huge balloon – where she interacts with her real and a projected shadow that shows her turning into a propeller machine. The performer then moves with long sleeve-jets in a circle, translating the idea of air compression. The central stage object is a wind machine. Strack carries it, drives with it, and eventually flies with it through the performance space. Various balloons and other objects are filled with the air blown by the wind- machine-propeller.
„Beau Fort 10“ explains the ambivalent relationship between wind and flying. Moderate winds were the force that moved balloons – whereas the early propeller machines could only fly without any wind what so ever.
The main storylines are the biographies of Amelia Earhart (*1897, disappeared 1937) and Elly Beinhorn (*1907), the former being the most legendary American woman-pilote, the latter her German counterpart. Both women share their fight against limiting gender roles, but their way of reflecting their fights could have not been more different.
Both were performer of their aviation star-role and talked about their lives – in public events and numerous publications. This was partially a necessity to refinance their adventures and record-breaking flights. They ended up in a loop of living a life they described in their performances. Action and presentation caused each other. Flying became a means of transportation to present their work – flying – all over the world.
„Beau Fort 10“ does not so much present the beauty of flying but the beauty of the dream of flying. The media art by Hiroko Tanahashi makes the live performer Maren Strack disappear and re-appear as a projected – flying – performer. Tanahashi’s video work blends live and pre-produced video projections and integrates three dimensional objects as projections screens.
Maren Strack’s movements and dance are both live and on video. Often enough, different realities overlap. Is the video following the performer or the other way round?
„Beau Fort 10“ concludes a trilogy on famous women and mobility which Maren Strack and post theater started in 2004. All parts of this trilogy are documentary performances that feature a special means of communication and the performance technique that is used to deal with these means. First Strack and post theater explored the whip, Calamity Jane and rail road building in „6 Feet Deeper“. Then they dealt in „Figure 8 Race“ with Clärenore Stinnes drive around the world – to which they used flags as central objects. In „Beau Fort 10“ they bring the series to an end in the sky.
Performance / Choreography / Concept: Maren Strack
Video / Installation / Concept: Hiroko Tanahashi (post theater)
Dramaturgy / Co-Director / Concept: Max Schumacher (post theater)
Voices: Ulrike Lau, Andreas Wald
Sound Design: Max Bauer
Costume Design: Mikyong Yeom, Sarah Pontius