THE REBIRTH OF NIKOLA TESLA
The world premiere of the latest production of Tomaz Pandur
If Nikola Tesla was a herald of modern technology then Tomaz Pandur and his latest theatre project announce the theatre of the New millenium. The production of Tesla Electric Company combines various types of the media that create the screen on which the actors' silhouettes move.
RTV Slovenia, July 19, 2006
A MELANCHOLIC ODE TO A GREAT GENIUS
The life story of the great historical figure from the realm of science, and the great inventor of the previous century, without whom the world of today could hardly be imaginable, seems to be another civilization myth to the author- and as such an attractive and challenging cause for both artistic freedom and independence of authorship, resulting in a stage epic, fragmentally composed of a series of carefully plotted and emotionally profound scenes, all of which are a sequel to the tradition. It allows room for dreaming and interprets the universal dilemmas of a lonely and misinterpreted genius who is driven by Faustian passionate ambitions and strives to go beyond the attained, experienced and conventional …, inevitably leaving him vulnerable and defeated by a never accomplished inner fulfillment and tranquility. As is appropriate to a stage director of such reputation, Pandur's spectacular poetic play will undoubtedly have an impact on his passionate fans and theatre authorities and is likely to stimulate innumerable contradictory opinions.
Slavko Pezdir, Delo, Ljubljana, July 20, 2006
TESLA ELECTRIC COMPANY AT THE MITTELFEST FESTIVAL
No more shocking sensationalism; it is time for a softer approach to dramaturgy (...) the audience was ecstatic about the perfection of the mis-en-scene and the aesthetic form (…).
Messagero Veneto, July 20, 2006
TESLA ELECTRIC COMPANY
In the first place we should clarify the unclear: “Tesla Electric Company” is of unique importance. It is one of those plays we cannot experience every day and that lingers in the memory of spectators. Not only because of the excellence of the actors, the beauty
of the live music, or the ingenuity of the lighting solutions, it is the blending of all these and other elements, the effectiveness of their composition and the strong artistic vision that Tomaz Pandur brings to life with his direction. The play is the story of one of those forgotten twentieth century geniuses: an inventor who discovered the alternating current system, radio waves, wireless transmission, the hydraulic turbine, the first theoretical writings on frequency, and many other principles on which modern physics is based.
He was never rewarded for his patents as they were taken over by Westinghouse and Edison. »Tesla Electric Company« presents the story through team choreography, dispersed fluorescent lights and mobile set design, offering constant alternating visual effects to unveil his frustrations, his difficult relationship with the outside world and the up-most intimate secrets in a life of a great man. Tomaz Pandur's direction is lucid and perfected in every single detail, resembling open heart surgery. And at the end, prolonged applause echoed in »Teatro Nuovo«.
Claudio Melchior, Il gazzettinio, Udine, July 21, 2006-10-01
A NARRATIVE OF A MAN WHO MADE FULL CIRCLE
The world premiere of »Tesla Electric Company« in Udine receives ovations.
The world premiere of »Tesla Electric Company« was an enormous success, and it deserved to be so. We witnessed a mature Tomaz Pandur, freed from the need to race with himself, harmonious and extremely poetical ... It is said that before dying a man's life flashes before his eyes ... It seems to have been the central idea of the team approach in the play »Tesla Electric Company«, opening with the scene of Tesla's death and ending with a prophecy of the birth of a genius, as if Tesla himself looked back on his life, selecting its vital moments . With his latest production, Tomaz Pandur remains loyal to his style. However, it largely differs from what we have seen so far. The play »Tesla Electric Company« is free from sensations; unexpected turning points, powerful music, surreal images and that is what make it sensational ... It is decent, has a rigid rhythm, yet it does not lack emotions. On the contrary: It goes far beyond the spaces of solitude but many a concrete thing is reduced to a sign – visual or audio- and that is what the greatness of the art of directing is about ... »Tesla Electric Company« is a narrative of Tesla the man who made full circle. The most explicit testimony of this can be seen in the circular set design (Numen) which supports the idea in a frightening way. It reaches its full potential, rotating in various sections alternatively opening and closing the stage ...
Svjetlana Hribar, Rijeka, July 23, 2006
PANDUR'S RESPECTFUL AND MEMORABLE TRIBUTE TO A GREAT GENIUS
The play with which Mittelfest paid a tribute to the great genius from Croatia opened with the scene of Tesla's death, the undefended nakedness of a pure soul confronted with an immaculate facade of society which, having in mind higher and nobler goals, exploited his genius (...). In the play, which focuses on the alternating current system and the cosmic energy, one would expect spectacular light effects. However, the director Tomaz Pandur did not excessively emphasize this aspect; he rather concentrated on the inner world of the genius and turned his life story into aesthetically perfected visions of his impressions, frustrations, loneliness and enthusiastic exploration into the realm of scientific research and the extreme boundaries of interplanetary communication. Society is on the fringe of his isolated status, as communication with a human being is the weakest point of the personality of the »magician« Tesla, »a tragicomic dreamer«, whose world appears to turn around behind an invisible membrane. The circular set design which symbolically rotates around him alludes to the perpetual rotation of the Universe. The impression of infinity, perfect, highly symbolical shapes of circles appear in the spheres the actors hold in their hands. In such metaphysical dimensions, the personality of a protagonist merges with the reflection of the complex mental and intellectual whole in a mirror. Multilingual text by Darko Lukic is one of the most ingenuous challenges of the play; its scientific-existential character is an attempt to transcend the theory and formulae into more profound dimensions of emotions and rank them next to the artificial and artistic fourth wall of literature and theatre. (...) The link in connection is a similarity between Tesla and Faust and his fatal lust for knowledge. (...) Travelling back in time does not intend to answer mysterious questions or show what Tesla really was but how he was with a deep feeling of loneliness through a series of impressions which transfer real thoughts and feelings into the visions. In his »dream journey« as marked by the director himself, appear the fragments from Tesla's life as well as the fairytale and archetypal visions; Tesla introducing himself as the modern Prometheus who gives light to people. The female figure is an untouchable constant who eventually acquires a sacred image of the universal Mother.
Extravagant costumes, set design and accessories are black and white – a reminiscent of the New York high society tuxedos and silent black and white movies. The atmosphere in some »sequences« resembles the contemporary film techniques, artistically combined with the music masterly performed by the pianist Primoz Hladnik and the singer Boris Benko. The excellent pop style of the soundtrack, to which the director assigned the fundamental role in creating the emotive mood, is worthy of independent promotion. (...) Those who are familiar with the life story of Nikola Tesla found it easier to understand the powerful message and appreciated the blending of symbolism and aesthetics, and hidden aspects of his soul , as well as the memorable moral dimensions »Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.«
Rossana Paliaga, Primorski dnevnik, July 21, 2006
NIKOLA TESLA AS MODERN FAUST
The intention of Lukic and Pandur's production is a transformation of Tesla into an authentic dramatic figure inter textually connected to Faust and his dilemmas, while the title itself alludes to the theatre in which the great scientist is the protagonist. The fact that part of the text is spoken in English, the multilinguality and universality of Pandur's project grant that »Tesla Electric Company« will certainly win international recognition. The motive of perpetual movement In artistically independent and non-conventional theatrical portrayal of Tesla's biography the authors do not answer which country he belonged to as it was, for the internationally recognized genius from Smiljan, of the least importance. In their visions the authors focus on the central figure of a misfit genius who was so far ahead of his time and was due to his visions of the endless universe confined to a solitary life.
As the central figure is not concerned about the regular time and space dimensions, Pandur found an interesting way to focus on the »time theme« on which the whole structure of the play is built. It is not a chronological narrative; it opens with the scene of his death in New York and retrospectively returns to his childhood in Smiljan, Lika. The fragments from his life do not come up in a linear manner but appear like short film sequences with the in– between time leaps. The motive of perpetual movement and circular running of the time is manifested in the set design itself which consists of three mobile semi–circle black paravans fixed on a circular stage. The set design (conceived by Numen) might be associated with Tesla's motor which worked on the principle of a rotating magnetic field or his transformer. (...) Highly aesthetic performance by Tomaz Pandur, based on strong contrasts of dark and light images to which Silence's music performed live by Primoz Hladnik and Boris Benko gives an extravagant poetic dimension. To interpret a complex personality of Tesla, Pandur applies the motif of mirrors which metaphorically through seven actors manifesting Tesla reflect different aspects of his eccentric personality.
Eternal enigma Nikola Tesla, the famous master of lightning, who remained shrouded in misery and solitude will remain an eternal enigma, a solution to which might be like in Welles’ »Rosebud« hidden in the hay of Tesla's childhood or a gold ball which symbolizes the Earth. The performance does not intend to reconstruct Tesla's life but to transform Tesla into an authentic figure inter textually connected to Faust and his dilemmas, while the title is associated with the theatre in which the great scientist is the protagonist.
Kim Cuculic, Novi list, Rijeka, August 13, 2006
TESLA ELECTRIC COMPANY
Tomaz Pandur is a theatre director, who has one important feature in common with Tesla: the ability of visions. He is the author of multicultural, multilingual and recently non-institutional theatre laboratory and is according to some world theatre theoreticians acknowledged as the greatest director of the new era.
Vecer / Primorske novice, Bonbon, August 8, 2006
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING SUPPORTING THE THEATRICAL ESSAY ON TESLA
The accumulated energy of the brilliant cast: Rade Serbedzija, Livio Badurina, Felix Stroebel, Hristina Popovic Mijin, Mijo Jurisic, Branko Jordan, Primoz Ekart, Gregor Gruden, Primoz Hladnik and Boris Benko, the extravagance of their acting is blended with excellent music, highly elaborated scenography, fantastic visual and audio effects and costume design. If Nikola Tesla, is »the energy which is watching us, and which exists and what the genius might have transformed into «, and they say he is, then the great scientist and the inventor from Smiljan who » With his bare hand held heaven's lightning and gave light to people« was close to the island of Mali Briun two days ago. »Tesla Electric Company«, more accurately Pandur's theatre essay on Tesla, (dramaturgy by Livia Pandur) produced in collaboration with Theater Ulysses and Pandur.Theaters had unique and ingenuine natural set design with extraordinary supernatural effects. Lightning did not only transcend the visually fantastic theatre project but on several occasions the light effects occurred in the most desirable moments.
The audience witnessed an eighty-minute extraordinary masterpiece glowing with beauty and grace reflected in every detail of the “hologramic dramaturgy”, suggesting pure and emotionally profound scenes that can function either as fragments or as a whole. Tesla –the man with his future and his past. A portrayal of a human being; a manifest of “how he was” begins with the scene of his death and retrospectively returns to the act of his birth. The scenes are highly refined, aesthetic, lingering between black and white photography and film. They contain subtle elements of surrealism and German expressionism, as well as photography of Helmut Newton, acquiring a completely new dimension of theatrical metaphysics. Throughout the play the atmosphere is imbued with warmth although the fluorescent lights (invented by Tesla) as the main source of light, dominate on the cylinder-shaped scene associated with a rotor. Imbued with warmth is also the beauty and energy of the main actress Hristina Popovic Mijin and as such ranked among the artistic achievements which convey the aura of uniqueness. She performs the role of four dominant female characters in Tesla’s life and reveals his attitude towards them. In the role of Catherine Johnson, Ann Morgan and a hotel maid who keeps vigil at deathbed on the thirty-third floor of the “New Yorker” hotel, Hristina Popovic Mijin is but pure emotion. She is as beautiful as is the music performed by the pianist Primo? Hladnik and the singer with a magical voice Boris Benko. We should also lavish praise on the cast in particular on fantastically sensitive Livio Badurina, who signs under one of the most delicate scenes. As an aged Tesla, who is feeding pigeons with bread crumbs on his shoulder, Badurina is charmingly child-like tender.
The play ends with the almost magical misty scene of Tesla’s birth symbolized with a brass ball wrapped in straw (inspiration for the electromagnetic field) that merges with cosmic powers.
As a matter of fact Tomaz Pandur is reflecting on the present through the prism of future and in terms of direction considers the extreme importance of time, provoking Proust’s turning point (a revolution). His major interest is “the theatre about time” and Tesla is just the materialized idea. (…) For “It happened tomorrow” Tesla repeated in the Luki? - Pandur’s play. And rounded up a brand new, this time theatrical circle.
Bojana Custic Juraga, Glas Istre, August 2006
BETWEEN A THUNDERSTORM OF APPLAUSE AND A THUNDERSTORM OF LONELINESS
Tomaz Pandur staged a memorable performance of “a cosmic loneliness” of a genius who would teeter on the verge of the abyss where ordinary people would never dare. According to Pandur, Tesla was a terribly lonely man who unable of communication with the outside world led a solitary life, building machines for interplanetary communication.
Zelimir Ciglar, Vecernji list, Zagreb, August 13, 2006
THUNDER IS GOD BUT LIGHTNING DOES ALL THE WORK
(…) If the performance (Tesla Electric Company) in Udine (the world premiere at the Mittelfest Festival) resembled the black and white mass, accompanied by Silence’s music which vibrated at the frequency of a liturgical ritual, then the open-air performance in Mali Brioni could be referred to as an extraordinary fusion of pagan and sacral – an allusion to the birth of Jesus. (…) Seven actors, seven manifestations of Tesla, seven reflections of his personality, classified according to the principles where every future has its past. (…) Pandur found the key for the performance in the cosmic solitude and the frequency of human loneliness.
Vesna Milek, Delo, Ljubljana, August 26, 2006
RETURN TO THE BEGINNING / BACK TO THE BEGINNING
“It happened tomorrow when I understood that simple equation” is the motto of the exceptional production Tesla Electric Company. ( …) Entranced might be a more appropriate term for an overall impression of the atmosphere. (…) Tesla Electric Company is indeed a great document of how the audience can be entranced with magic and at the same time withdrawn into the vortex of visions where any questions are irrelevant.
Boris B. Hrovat, Zagreb, September 14, 2006
TESLA ELECTRIC COMPANY: TESLA, SERBEDZIJA, PANDUR, THREE MEN LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
What do Tesla, Pandur and Serbedzija have in common? They are the twentieth and twenty-first century’s figures ahead of the time and events and capable of an insight into the realms of science, art and future.
Zdenka Lovec, Primorske Novice, August 26, 2006