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Burt Turrido. An Opera

von und mit Nature Theater of Oklahoma
19.00 Uhr / Uraufführung / Bockenheimer Depot

Karten Vorverkauf
Eintritt: 18,- bis 25,- Euro (Premiere 20,-
bis 28,- Euro) → Weitere Vorstellungen am MI 03.02., FR 05.02., SA 06.02. jeweils 19 Uhr, SO 07.02. 18 Uhr (sowie 16.02. – 18.02.)

Eine Produktion von Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Schauspiel Frankfurt und Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Koproduziert von Arctic Arts, Athens & Epidaurus Festival, Espoo City Theatre, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Kampnagel und Wiener Festwochen, gefördert durch die Kulturstiftung des Bundes und durch die Adolf und Luisa Haeuser-Stiftung.

THROW YOURSELVES FULL OF ANGER AT AN EXISTING CONCEPT AND REPLACE IT WITH ANOTHER! Be AGGRESSIVE; even if you only seem to be. In keeping with their ‘Manifesto for Manifestos’ Kelly Copper and Pavol Liŝka of the Nature Theater of Oklahoma run wild in the western theatre tradition, undermining with subversive affirmation the heavyweight of the genre in Burt Turrido. An Opera.

In a mood of humoristic existentialism they tell of a ghostly society: a castaway is saved from drowning by a mysterious beautiful woman and brought by her to the last bit of land remaining on Earth. Barren and now inhabited by the ghosts of its former inhabitants, the island (previously known as Greenland) is ruled by a despotic royal couple. They give the name Burt Turrido to the castaway and enslave him. Murder, triangular love affair, fake execution, birth, invasion by aliens together with abduction and an immaculate conception are additional ingredients of this tragedy, which does not fail to have someone impaled on a narwhal tusk before it comes to an end.

In its performances, the Nature Theater of Oklahoma addresses with panache the genre references of its choice. What sounds like a traditional opera synopsis proves at the same time to be an analysis of a powerful genre that has spread from Western Europe across the globe in the form of works and buildings. In Burt Turrido the instructions for action and the assignment become a Kafkaesque law. And although this law has to be respected, ultimately it will never be possible to do it justice.

The Nature Theater of Oklahoma, an art and performance enterprise based in New York, was founded in 2004 and has received many awards. It is run by Pavol Liŝka and Kelly Copper. In each new project they try to take on and also present the audience with an impossible challenge: while working within the codes and limits of the established genre, the aim is to break them down. No project is formally identical to any other, but each work is characterized by humour, earnestness, rigor and the indispensable role of the audience – be this as a viewer or as a participant in the piece. The Nature Theater of Oklahoma makes use of readymades, found spaces, their own talents, along with cosmic chance, thoroughly formal manipulation and sheer hard work, thereby ensuring that art achieves a shift in our perceptions of everyday reality that goes beyond the place where the performance takes place and out into the wide world in which we ourselves live.


Text & Regie: Kelly Copper, Pavol Liška
Mit: Gabel Eiben, Anne Gridley, Robert M. Johanson, Bence Mezei, Kadence Neill
Musik: Robert M. Johanson
Bühne & Lichtdesign: Luka Curk
Kostümdesign: Anna Sünkel
Dramaturg Künstlerhaus Mousonturm: Marcus Dross
Dramaturgin Schauspiel Frankfurt: Katja Herlemann
Produzentin/Produktionsleitung Künstlerhaus Mousonturm: Anne Kleiner
Bühnenassistentin von Luka Curk: Nastja Miheljak
Bühnenbildassistentin Schauspiel Frankfurt: Hanna Marlene Schnell

Nature Theater of Oklahoma ist ein 2004 gegründetes, vielfach ausgezeichnetes New Yorker Kunst- und Performance-Unternehmen unter der Leitung von Pavol Liška und Kelly Copper. Mit jedem neuen Projekt versuchen sie, sich selbst wie auch das Publikum vor eine unmögliche Herausforderung zu stellen, indem sie innerhalb der Codes und Grenzen etablierter Genres arbeiten, diese jedoch sprengen. Kein Projekt gleicht formal dem anderen, doch zeichnet sich jede Arbeit durch Humor, Ernsthaftigkeit, Strenge und die unverzichtbare Rolle aus, die das Publikum spielt – sei es als Zuschauer*in oder als Teilnehmer*in des Werkes. Mit Readymades, gefundenen Räumen, der ihnen eigenen Begabung, mit kosmischem Zufall, äußerster formaler Manipulation und schlicht harter Arbeit schafft es das Nature Theater of Oklahoma, dass Kunst eine Verschiebung unserer Wahrnehmung der Alltagsrealität erzeugt, die über den Aufführungsort hinaus bis in die Welt hineinreicht, in der wir leben.

Kelly Copper
Climate refugees, Rising sea levels, The Great Pacific garbage patch, California wildfires, Jonestown, the 1928 Banana Massacre and Donald Trump’s failed attempt to “buy” Greenland – all these things, among others, were rattling in our brains when we first began working on the opera, Burt Turrido toward the tail end of 2019.

And then somewhere around Scene 3 the COVID-19 pandemic hit –

And in that echo-chamber of lockdown – alone in our island-like apartments, castaway – our world took a further turn inward, and kept on turning... our private lives creating their own vortex version of the Great Pacific garbage patch: grievances, regrets, resentments, and anxieties, the emotional equivalent of discarded plastic bags, water bottles, cellphones, pens and pacifiers…

Friends divorced. Got sick. Got mad.

And then got even.

You could hear the neighbors scream at night through the walls.

Everyone learned to bake. Moved out of the city. Made masks. Filed for unemployment. Volunteered. Turned away. Tuned in. Binge-watched. Doom scrolled. Took up old bad habits. Found brand new ones…

We wrote this as New York weathered a deadly first wave of the virus, followed by racial unrest, curfew, economic downturn, political instability…

Not that Burt Turrido is a record of this time by any means, but it has served to keep us present in the swirling uncertainty – and has given us space to reflect (as if in a funhouse mirror) on our experience of it.

Pavol Liška
It’s very difficult these days -- nearly impossible -- when you dare to open your senses as wide as they go, to let in the world – raw, unfiltered, exactly as it is – to find the motivation, the inspiration, or even the reason to ask serious questions, much less to try to meaningfully answer them.

It feels pointless to peddle ideas -- however profound we may believe they are. They’ve lost their value and are like a worthless currency with too many zeros of some bankrupt third world country. Even the most self-evident, indisputable answers to the simplest questions like “How many fingers am I holding up” or “What’s my name?” are seemingly debatable. Basic truths we took for granted all our lives now seem absurd.

But this appears to be the Real World; not some new reality forced upon us by aliens from Outer Space (as opposed to Mexico in the U.S. and Turkey in Western Europe…) – but it’s the way it’s always been, and we just dressed it up in our delusions of Enlightenment and Civilization.

There seem to be only two possible explanations – if we don’t want to think too hard about it – for the current hopeless state of our world: either we did this to ourselves, and therefore we deserve it and have no right to whine and moan, or the world was made this way – it’s by design – pre-programmed to self-destruct, and we’ve just grossly inflated the importance of our role in whatever’s happening; this is how it would be, no matter what we did; humanity’s irrelevant.

Enter “Burt Turrido: the Opera”: born of tenuous impressions and fused experiences such as the above. The human mind, by nature a controlling organ, has a cute habit of always imagining the worst case scenario and then trying to prepare for it, as if reason (the supposed effluvium of the mind) had any agency in shaping our future…

“Burt Turrido” might be – among many other pettier, purely personal, shamefully self-expressive, exhibitionist things – one of those imagined “worst case scenarios” – just so if and when it really happens, or something like it happens, we’re not caught completely by surprise.

We’ll know where to go (Banana Kingdom) and what to expect there (more of the same: love and death) if the world does end.

And on the bright side, we might learn that death, which we have feared so pitifully, may not even be final, and there’s a chance we’ll reunite with our long-lost loved-ones, if we’re lucky, or our erstwhile enemies, if we’re not. And, as if that were not enough, there is the Outer Space, that vast and unexplored frontier – the ultimate mystery – just trembling with excitement to be exploited.


Eine Produktion von Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Schauspiel Frankfurt und Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Koproduziert von Arctic Arts Festival (Norwegen), Athens & Epidaurus Festival (Griechenland), Espoo City Theatre (Finnland), HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Deutschland), Kampnagel (Deutschland) und Wiener Festwochen (Österreich). Ein Werkauftrag im Rahmen des Festivals Frankfurter Positionen 2021, eine Initiative der BHF-Bank Stiftung. Gefördert durch die Kulturstiftung des Bundes und durch die Adolf und Luisa Haeuser-Stiftung für Kunst und Kulturpflege im Rahmen der Projektreihe UNLIMITED II zur Förderung exemplarischer Positionen zeitgenössischer Performing Arts.

zur Übersicht