„Über Überüberübermorgen“, Cécile Bally & Cathy Walsh ©Dieter Hartwig

Rearranging Time

PURPLE DANCE FESTIVAL 14-22 JANUARY 2023 >>> What happens when tomorrow becomes yesterday? In “Über Überüberübermorgen” (About the day after the day after the day after tomorrow), a science fiction journey through time that premiered on 6 October 2022 at FELD Theater für junges Publikum, Cécile Bally and Cathy Walsh investigate the future — with the help of their audience, which welcomes anyone 5 years of age and up.

Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today. A ball, a wooden ring, a golden paper cone. A curious researcher (Cécile Bally) plays with these symbolic objects, reordering time. Yesterday becomes Today and disappears into Tomorrow. And while the researcher continues, fascinated, to nest the ball, ring, and cone inside one another, a large white clock face with red arms and legs sneaks up on her. Time, personified as a cheeky dancing clock accompanied by rhythmic drumming, starts to play with Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow. Following the researcher’s instructions, she transforms into waiting time, bedtime, extended playtime. The researcher combines commands according to her investigative impulse until Time can no longer follow, and runs out. In search of lost Time, the researcher stumbles into a time warp. The journey into the future begins.

The curtain that has been covering the rear part of the stage opens, revealing the fantastic surroundings of the year 3000. In the background: a green landscape and futuristic architecture. There is a tree growing all the components needed to make a sandwich; there are bushes that taste like biotechnology, too. All the colours are intensely bright. While the researcher is busy exploring it all with her measuring stick, the children in the audience discover the inhabitants of the new world. “Behind you, there!” they shout at Cécile. 

We meet Cathy (Cathy Walsh) and Tinti (Steve Heather). Cathy has two neon pink arms and two bright yellow ones. Tinti is an elephant-squid who plays the drum. He has a machine that translates his language, otherwise incomprehensible to us, into emojis. The researcher is not scared by her unusual surroundings. Full of curiosity, she dances a welcome dance with Cathy and discovers the possibilities afforded by a sandwich tree. Rearranging the order of things — a simple game, whether it involves assembling sandwiches, or turning the day before tomorrow into the day after yesterday. With a great deal of wit, magic, and bright colours, “Über Überüberübermorgen” embarks on a journey of discovery into the future that visibly captivates and amuses the children in the audience.

Exciting ideas for the future emerge through Cathy’s demonstration of all the things she finds in her new “now”: a multispecies disco, a tree that eats sadness, a gender carousel. Unfortunately, when it comes time to vote, we are given the choice between just two things: a visit from a gigantic snake, or a spaghetti storm. And while both options sound like a lot of fun, the question of what might really be possible 978 years from now gets a little lost, for me. I would have been more interested in the thought experiments of bringing as diverse as possible a group of living beings together to celebrate or entrusting sadness to a tree. But the children cry out for the giant snake, and we get to see it dancing and waving.

With the construction of a time machine, all three characters travel together into the year 7001. However, the discovery of this distant future happens offstage, after the 40-minute runtime has ended and the time travellers make their final exit. As my own thoughts revolve around utopian possibilities, I wonder what world the youngest in the audience imagine when they think about the day after the day after the day after tomorrow.

English translation by Cory Tamler

“Über Überüberübermorgen” (5+) by Cécile Bally & Cathy Walsh celebrated its premiere on 6 October 2022 at the FELD Theater für junges Publikum (Gleditschstr. 5, Berlin-Schöneberg). Further performances until 10 October 2022, tickets under jungesfeld.de.