Chaos Kompass, Bahar Meriç ©Sinje Hasheider

Are You Lost?

Chaos Kompass, an ensemble-created production featuring 11 performers aged 16 to 27 under the artistic direction of Bahar Meriç, premiered in April 2024 at Theater an der Parkaue, with two additional shows scheduled in June 2024.

When I think back to my teenage years, my heart winces. I am most likely not alone in shuddering and laughing a little at this memory of standing in the midst of a storm of angst as a young person. But as storms always come again in a weather cycle, they never completely disappear from one’s life. How do we know what to do when it storms in our lives? Do we stop? Do we walk? Run? To which direction? During the four and a half months of creating Chaos Kompass, the performers have discussed the following questions extensively and physicalised their findings: How do I want to live? Where do I belong? What will become of me?

The piece moves at a fast pace with changing lights (colourful), music (mostly dynamic with some pop songs), costumes (shiny and eye-catching), and scenes (solos, duets, trios, and group choreographies). A large, white, circular sculpture, which I see as a metaphor for an individual and collective inner compass, is a prominent presence throughout the performance. The performers dance with it and move it around again and again. Although the many short scenes flipping speedily past leave me with a sense that the piece lacks a clear direction, I witness the joy and empowerment the performers plainly feel.

In the public conversation after the show, Bahar Meriç explains that she chose to work with the theme of self-orientation because the matter of orienting oneself accompanies one’s life continuously. She reminisces about her younger times when this question of self-orientation had felt so much bigger. This sparked her interest in working with young people, as well as the inspiration she finds in their honesty with themselves.

The performers’ transparency indeed comes through in their answers during the public conversation. They seem radiant and confident, passionate and proud of the performance they have created together. When asked about what they took away from the process, many of them share the deeply meaningful effects it had on them. One of them describes how they found their own sense of orientation. Before, they had simply followed societal expectations without ever questioning them. But now, they realised that they could structure their life uniquely, just as they could create the performance the way they wanted it to be.

When an audience member asks whether there are messages behind the performance, the question is directed back to them. They reply that they did not understand anything by watching the work. They could, however, deduct a meaning from the title of the piece. A performer chimes in, saying that it was meaningful to create something together. Hearing this answer affirms my impression that the real significance of this piece is not in the audience’s reading of it, but in its impact on its participants. I am left with the hope that learning this practice of being true to their inner compass will continue to serve these young performers throughout the fluctuating weather cycles of life.

Chaos Kompass by Bahar Meriç, premiered on April 9, 2024 at Theater an der Parkaue, with further shows on June 16/17, 2024. Tickets here.