Bird's Eye View

Goksøyr & Martens’ performance space is inspired by the anatomical theatres of the 16th century. These were constructed with high galleries from which the audience could follow the dissection of a corpse by looking down on it from above. Such dissections were attended not just by medical students but also by artists.

The theatrical possibilities of the bird’s-eye view also bring to mind Gertrude Stein’s “Landscape play.” Stein described her “Landscape play” by citing the differences between travelling by train and by aircraft. When travelling by rail, due to the high speed of the train, you get only a partial impression of the landscape. A passenger on an aircraft looking from the window, on the other hand, sees the entire landscape below at a glance (1).

In other words, the bird’s-eye view allows one to work with the dramaturgical principle of simultaneity; situations and sequences are presented in parallel, among which the viewer is free to choose. This gives rise to a democracy of events; everything is important, and different forms of being are treated as equal.

In addition, the bird’s-eye view allows the viewer to experience the stage as a picture, or a canvas. A mobile surface for images suitable for the study of human life. Not the body as it looks when dead and dissected, but the body as it is while alive; furious, frightened or full of joy.

Our theatre gallery is designed by Helen & Hard architects, and places the audience 3,6 metres up above the stage.

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We wish to create stories that forge links between theatre and contemporary social and political circumstances, and that reveal both our fears and our dreams.


Aristotle’s requirement that the action of a drama should be restricted to a single location prompted ancient dramatists to develop the theatrical device known as teichoscopy, meaning “viewing from the wall”. Teichoscopy is a stage convention whereby a witness communicates to the audience what is happening offstage in an imagined space.

The earliest known example of teichoscopy is found in Homer’s Iliad, and we know that Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller all used the device in some of their plays. In our productions, we use headphones to give the audience access to imagined spaces, and hence also to allow an alternation between places that are remote and close by, between the visible and the invisible.

What we explore in particular is how audiovisual media in combination with careful choice of audience location can be used to transition seamlessly from a broad overview of a situation to an internal monlogue or vice versa. Each audience member is given an MP3 player that channels the story directly into their ear.

The stories in the various productions differ in character, but what they all have in common is the use of the listener’s imagination; much of the action is evoked as images inside the listener’s head, produced through the interplay of fiction and factual settings.

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