The Shadow is an audio-visual performing art concert-performance developed by ensemble Contemporánea – Live Electronics Denmark. It is a retelling of “The Shadow”, the fairytale from 1847 by the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, about a shadow taking over his master’s life. On stage is clarinetist Fritz Gerhard Berthelsen performing the different characters in interaction with the video, the text and the music.
The main character a wise man and his shadow, moves around, performing clarinet and bass clarinet, interacting with the video and live electronics. Live music performed on clarinets is challenged by contemporary rhythms and digital possibilities – using a laptop interacting with performer, narration, video and audio.
H. C. Andersen had only the written word for communicating. His text is extremely evocative and figurative and therefore also doing really well as a music dramatic performance. By using the latest digital media, we have established such a performance. We have combined electronic music tracks with a back-projected video screen, spoken text sequences and performance. All is build on top of a multifaceted classic/rhythmic contemporary music composition. One musician/performer and one audio- & video performer are able to perform The Shadow with live acoustic music instruments – in this case a clarinet and bass clarinet.
Elaboration of the story
The shadow is very much about Hans Christian Andersen’s own struggle to find his place in the society as an artist. A learned man lets his shadow explore poetry, which ends up that his shadow finally takes over his own life. This cruel story by Andersen focuses on a theme of creating an identity and maintaining it in an impenetrable world.
Andersen’s 150 year old text is more actual than ever.
The experience of today for especially children and adolescents are sometimes that the virtual universes are occupying, even swallowing theirs identity. Then the question: “who are you” in the real world, can be difficult for them to figure out.
By retelling The Shadow in a contemporary music and visual form, we hope to inspire schoolchildren and their teachers subsequently to have an interesting discussion about identity in the classroom.
Development and progress of the production
The Shadow started its development in the autumn 2012 and did have a very succesfull premiére in August 2013 in Copenhagen (Denmark). It has since then been played more than 250 times in concert halls, schools, community centers and festivals around in Denmark, Argentine, Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Iceland among a lot more to come up. In the coming years the target will be China among running performance periods in Europe and the Usa.
Audience target and limitation
The Shadow was originally developed with focus on children in the 4-6 grades. But we have since had the experience, that, with its many abstract layers, The Shadow is suitable for both large and small people. In case of a school performance, it is appropriate to play performances for divided age groups. In a concert hall or a community hall it can be performed for all groups together. It is recommendable to establish performances for a public of max 1000-1500 people. The Shadow can be performed up to 3 times a day.
Fritz Gerhard Berthelsen *1963, Denmark
Music composition, live electronics, video
Ejnar Kanding *1965, Denmark
Production in 2013 also included
Retelling, film and video
Niels Mikkelsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mia Theil Have, Odin Teater, Denmark.