Kafka's Attic

Kafka's Attic: A Digital Media Dance-Theatre Performance.

Kafka's Attic is a new, innovative performance collaboration combining several artforms: Dance, Theatre, Digital Media Visual Art and Sound Art. It is a 30 minute Dance-Theatre performance using expressive contemporary dance techniques and dialogue. Body movement and set design is enhanced by real-time, responsive digital media projections; via their bodily movement the dancers manipulate the video world that surrounds them. The performers are literally performing with the computer, whereby the computer system becomes a symbiotic performance partner. Kafka's Attic, uses an electronic musical score, sound effects and a stage bathed in ethereal colours and metamorphosing shapes of light to provide an otherworldly atmosphere for gliding movement and gripping drama to unfold.


The theme and script are inspired by “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. The writer and director, Neill O’Dwyer, feels Kafka’s writings are relative to contemporary Dublin because his work evokes polemic emotions to which audiences can relate in the context of our post-industrial Irish society.

In his novel Kafka depicts of a force or entity beyond the control and scrutiny of the individual, arbitrarily determining his or her destiny, justly or unjustly. This opens channels for a deeper exploration of the personal, emotional and particularly subjective needs of individual human beings. By aligning his own contemporary dance production with “The Trial” Neill seeks to comment on the abstracted powers at play within western, totalitarian world economics and media processes, and the reciprocal internal paradoxes facing the increasingly marginalized individual: isolation and togetherness, confidence and inferiority, jubilation and anguish, orientation and loss of a Cartesian referent.

Outline of design concepts:

The interactive stage designs are kinetic, abstract expressions of themes and emotions considered by Kafka in his novel. Not only do they evoke the stage setting in which his characters play out their discourse, but so too do they objectify the imaginative mind, the irrational mindscape that doesn’t always reconcile with the tangible, rational world the we live in. We use a ‘responsive environment’ paradigm to evoke these internal paradoxes—the struggle between urge and desire—thus bringing them out in a tangible form on the stage.

Using the latest in motion tracking software Neill uses video projectors as a light source to reveal dancers rather than to show images concurrently with them. The result is a sense that emotions and life-force are emanating from the body; the technology enables the audience to see into the character’s imagination, to experience the affect that the dancer is having on the space around her/him and the way space and environment affects the dancer. This symbiotic system presents semi-autonomous haptic architectures: light that has a direct relationship to the body but also has various other computations that give it behavioural forms, that give it its own independent sense of the movement, its coming to life, its own death; organic, unwieldy environments.

Mirage Trailer from Neill O'Dwyer on Vimeo.


A note from the sound designer:

In "The Trial," Kafka emphasizes the power of the irrational by showing the inability of reason to plumb the depths of the soul. He regards reality as a barrage of disruptions, as invariably found in tenements and hotel rooms, where there seems to be constant activity penetrating into one’s personal realm. His character “K.” craves quiet, the quiet of a cemetery. The sound design will reflect Kafka’s masochistic pleasure between torment and calm. In this work the sound design will play with the delicate relationship between tension and texture. It will focus on the alternating energy between rhythmic and melodic aspects, as it slowly builds up into greater sound masses, sometimes dissipating into silence. The sonic experience will creatively weave between primal percussive metallic sounds and their rich overtones extracted and transformed, and further morphed with drones and low strings and pipes, generating an other-wordly atmosphere, sometimes dark sometimes angelic, reflecting the atmosphere in Kafka’s Attic.


Writer, Director & Producer: Neill O’Dwyer
Choreographer & Dancer: Monika Bieniek
Digital Media Programming, Lighting & Projection: Colin O’Sullivan
Sound Designer and Co-producer: Aidan Boyle
Venue & facilities: Rua Red Arts Centre