A genius is exercised from the moment of his birth on. A genius rules the elements, masters the nature, knows the reasons from the past, the sense of the present and the secret of the future. A genius wants to know in order to dare. He dares to want. He wants to conquer the empire of elements. And to rule over them, he has to keep silent.
MAN OUT OF TIME
At the turn of the 19th century, tremendous and monumental events were happening all over the world. But somewhere at the end of this world, deep in the mountains of Lika, in a small Austro-Hungarian village Smiljan, a son was born in the family of a Serbian-orthodox priest: Nikola. The place where he lived was merely skirted by the two tumultuous centuries; the big events touched Smiljan – surrounded by dense woods and centuries of silence – only slightly. But the boy left, first to Budapest, then to France and New York, and, hurrying to catch his own 19th century and run into the 20th, he invented the 21st on the way.
In his time, Nikola Tesla, a boy from Smiljan, was one of the best known American and European scientists. His two fatherlands, Croatia , where he was born, and Serbia, to which he ethnically belonged, celebrated him from afar, but more for their own sakes than for his. In America, the land where he lived and worked celebrated him and opposed him, awarded him and betrayed him. Europe invited him to give lectures in London, Berlin and Paris, and followed him in the European manner: with dignity and cold reserve. His life, in the meantime, oscillated between profusion and misery. Surrounded by the pompous glamour of kings, princes, billionaires, celebrated artists and famous scientists, he was the true celebrity of his time. An idol. Television, by the way, was not yet there to make a celebrity out of him – it was still waiting for Tesla to invent it.
Sunk in his life-long solitude, he was a keeper of thousands of pigeons. Only very few entered into the vestibule of his world. Tesla preferred to become the World then to let the World to enter him. He died in the first half of the 20th century after having invented most everything that the 21st could not do without. It may have been because he hurried so much, because he arrived too early, or because the World got to know him too late, when it was big enough for Tesla's shoes, he was not understood and unrecognised for a long time. Alternating current, neon light, television, radars, satellites, space projects, star shields … it was all conceived in Tesla's laboratories, in his research, but while he was hurrying to feed the pigeons in the park, or leaving once invention to start several others, other people craftily and meticulously signed their own names under his inventions and channelled the profits from them to their own bank accounts. With no time for low worldly concerns, Tesla in the meantime tried to communicate with the universe.
This performance find him in the moment when he is standing with one foot in the glamorous lights of New York and stretching the other towards the vastness of the universe. This is his moment of serendipity; the moment when he realises that he arrived too early for the people who surround him and too late to become the Great Shaman. The time for him to become the Great Genius is still to come. A genius inventor, a genius showman and entertainer, all in one person, he played with the orb just like a boy plays with an apple, he socialised with the most famous and fed pigeons in a park. After Tesla's death, several important world information centres were interested in the secrecy of his unpublished inventions, thus shrouding him in a veil of mystery and secrets, still unsolved to this day. After his death, he became equally mysterious as he was in life. This performance does not intend to answer these mysterious questions, nor show WHAT Tesla really was. We are trying to touch the secret by searching the answers to the question HOW he became what he was.
IT HAPPENED TOMORROW
Why are we wasting our time discussing time? Couldn't we waste it on a problem more useful from the mysterious and so far unsuccessful thinking about the very essence of time? Is this because we're not totally certain that we are wasting time, or are we, at this very moment, maybe gathering it? If time is limited, finite and determined, then it is certainly wasted. If not, then we are merely wasting our uncertain belief of the certainty of the clock ticking time away somewhere in the room, why we are contemplating time. But even this watch … we invented it, long before we knew about time what we know now. And what we know now is essentially the realisation that we know nothing about time. Thousands of years of the history of the human thought, science and philosophy, and no less of art, were ‘wasted’ on trying to understand the world around us, and the understanding of ourselves in the world. From Heraclites to Hawking, millennia of our civilisation have tried to unveil the hidden face of time. Millions of answers have already been written, but every single one of them opens thousands of new questions.
So, why do we ask about time in a place like theatre? Maybe because it is indeed the only place, where there are as many parallel ‘times’ as there are people in the audience and performers on the stage, and also the creators of the performance in the backstage and those waiting – or not waiting – for them after the show. However, all this is framed into a notion of the exact time; each performance has the exact time of the beginning, its duration and the end. But still, in every second of this illusion, hours, even years of the individual subjective times, and the performance may – if it so desires – stage a thousand years. Indeed, only in theatre are we confronted thus confronted with our own ignorance about time, with the terrible arbitrariness of time and the fascinating beauty of its mystery. Here, in the theatre, a century might unfold in front of our eyes, and yet a watch on our wrist may only register a lapse of one hour, and nobody finds this fact strange or worrying. How many hours has the watch on our wrist measured between the moment we first heard an exciting line and the moment when we stopped thinking about it forever? How many years have the calendars counted since the author, whose words – so alive – are we listening to at the moment, has died? It seems that the theatre, in every single bit of its existence, offers only the challenges of time, and questions about time, yet we think about it at least when we say ‘theatre’ – and we do not even consider the possibility that this fascinating secret of time could be the very centre of a theatre event.
Tomaz Pandur, quite uninterested in the challenges that are not extreme an extremely dangerous, is convinced that it is time for the theatre about time. Or maybe the theatre of time. He claims that the time has come for the theatre to study time itself. It is perfectly clear that for such an experiment no play has ever been written. Not even a novel, and maybe several complete libraries. There are neither guidelines for such a theatre event, nor limits. Rather like the time itself.
Nevertheless, some key points for consideration appear in the very nature of the theme, so very challenging for the ‘dream-chasers’. Tesla, ‘a man out of time’, a man we know almost nothing about except that to ‘unplug’ all the patents or inventions – by fluke or on a whim – our civilisation would come to a halt. The inventor of the 20th century, the owner of the energy on our planet is far better known in the USA than he is in his own country. Textbooks an data will record the information about an extraordinary inventor of some basic things, things which help move and turn everything around us, things which are the base for our everyday life – and that’s all. Not a word about a genius who had a clear vision of a distant future and was so much ahead of his own time (some other time) that his contemporaries could not even understand the most of his inventions, or that they understood them well that they kept them for themselves for decades and developed them in secret until today. What we know now tells us that Tesla’s genius is a building block for every invention that builds modern civilisation. The credited and uncredited inventions, inventions signed for with other names and the inventions that disappeared in folders marked ‘top military or state secret’ for years after Tesla’s death in strange and never explained circumstances.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th 1856 in Smiljan near Gospi? in Croatia (then Austro-Hungary). He studies at High technical school in Graz, and later in Prague. He moves to Budapest where he works at Central telegraph office of the Hungarian government. He is part of the developement team that builds the first telephone switch in Budapest. In 1882 he discovers the basis of rotating magnetic fields. That brilliant invention allowed the constuction of alternating current based electric motors which in turn started Second Industrial Revolution.
Wishing to apply his findings, Tesla moves to Paris and starts working for Edison, where he gains reputation. In 1884 he moves to New York to work at Edison Laboratories, only to become one of his closest collaborators. His wish to apply his alternating current system as opposed to Edison’s direct current eventually brings to the break-up of their collaboration and the establishment of Tesla’s company in the spring of 1887.
The goal of his laboratory was to perfect alternating current machines. Soon he patents his system of production, transmission and usage of alternating current - a system which is still in use today. His patents are soon sold to George Westinghouse, enterpreneur and engineer, and then used to build the then-biggest and most important hydroelectric powerplant. This marked the victory of Tesla’s alternating current system.
At the peak of his glory and success Tesla refuses an excellent position at Westinghouse Electric Corporation and continues the researches in his New York laboratories. Starting from 1889 when he built first highvoltage generators, Tesla focuses on electro-dynamics.
This area, until then unexplored, Tesla makes further brilliant discoveries that remain to this day the basis of many branches of electroengineering (electro-medicine, radio, radars...). Unfortunately, many inventions were assigned to other ‘inventors’, but little by little these injustices have been set straight. Today there are no doubts about the extraordinary achievements that Tesla made in the fields of electrotechnics, and the lectures he gave in United States, London and Paris on high-voltage and high-frequency currents brought him fame and international recognition.
In 1895 a fire destroyes Tesla’s laboratory, all the machines and appliances as well as the entire technical documentation and his personal notes. This seemingy halted him or even set him back, but he soon recuperated, building a new laboratory in Colorado in 1899 and 1900. There he experiments with new transformators, gaining up to 12 million volts. Upon his return to New York he builds a huge radio station on Long Island, intended to communicate with all the world, but all the way thinking of another, major achievement: wireless transfer of energy. This was his only idea that he has not been able to bring to life. Lack of funding brought the research to the end in 1906, thus marking the end of his practical researches. His mind, however, continued to produce ideas and suggestions for the appliances that would help the mankind: ozone-producing machines, artificial fertilizers, vertical-take-off airplanes, and especially induction turbine.