Outside on Max-Joseph-Platz, the raindrops bounce in the puddles. Inside, too, in the stalls of the Munich National Theatre, it is bubbling quietly; sound artist Christine Börsch-Supan creates live sounds with water, bubbles rise on the walls by projection and a few sea creatures swim around, the room is shrouded in a soft blue-green light. The hall, which normally houses the audience's woollen coats and umbrellas, has been transformed into an underwater world for the children's dance theatre The Fish Who Found the Sea.

A small fish, portrayed by dancer Judith Seibert, swims in this world. Like the three real goldfish peacefully circling in the aquarium on the counter, and the two friendly comrades from the school of fish (ensemble members Sinéad Bunn and Severin Brunhuber), the performer in her orange robe also moves happily through the imaginary waves. Until the fish starts to brood.

Whether and how fish think in real life, we don't know. The little fish in the parquet dressing room certainly does.

According to the literary model of Alan Watt's 1944 picture book The Fish Who Found the Sea, he thinks so hard about why and how he can actually swim that he almost loses his ability to move. But fortunately only almost. Because in the course of the play he overcomes his blockade.

The young audience is spellbound as the dancer initially makes her swimming rounds through the room with calm, symmetrical movements. But thinking too much about something and questioning automated processes is rarely good for you. And so the little fish suddenly panics. Arms and legs begin to kick frantically, the narrative voice, which at the same time represents the sea surrounding the fish, becomes nervous. But then the sea takes heart: "If you couldn't swim, why haven't you fallen to the bottom of the sea yet?" the voice asks reassuringly from offstage.

And so the little fish finally finds its way back to itself and its abilities. When the waves and emotions in the underwater world have calmed down again, Sinéad Bunn and Severin Brunhuber enchant the children with a graceful fish pas-de-deux, the little fish dances happily around his bathtub flat and the soundscape envelops the room in a rippling, calming atmosphere. The young audience also experiences the underwater world physically: again and again, the two dancers and the dancer encourage the little ones to join in the fish choreography, imitate the arm movements and swim and bubble with them.

"I like to think in terms of experiential spaces," says director Franziska Angerer, herself the mother of a five-year-old son, in conversation. "The little children are all a bit like the little fish and, especially at this age, they are in the process of gaining versatile experiences and developing their ego." In the dance theatre piece, the August Everding Academy graduate creates many such experiential spaces for the children to immerse themselves in: visual, acoustic, physical.

Angerer, who studied German and theology as a teacher and completed a classical dance training before studying directing, considers it a stroke of luck that she was able to draw on existing choreographic material. Because the choreography originally comes from Charlotte Edmond's piece Generation Goldfish. The group piece premiered in 2021 at the Prinzregententheater as part of the evening Heute ist Morgen (Today is Tomorrow), in which (young) up-and-coming choreographers created works with the Bayerisches Staatsballett. "It's nice that in this way existing choreographic material also flows in, enters into a different context and encounters other material," says the dance-savvy director.

"This could also be a model for the future, as a new form of sustainability in theatre."

 

The four- to seven-year-old girls and boys who have made themselves comfortable on the mattresses in the stalls dressing room should not care about the origin of the movements. They are happy about the physical-emotional experience of moving together, about the visual impressions of the underwater world projections and the sound spaces that ripple almost contemplatively at times. And so, after 40 minutes, they swim back home across the rain-soaked Max-Joseph-Platz with rubber boots on their feet and many impressions in their day-care centre backpacks.

Author: Annette Baumann

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