Esso Houses Echo

Copyright: Margit Czenki

Sylvi Kretzschmar, Megaphone Choir: Esso Houses Echo – A Requiem, 2014, Hamburg

Sylvi Kretzschmar/Megafonchor: Esso Häuser Echo – Ein Requiem, 2014, Hamburg


In Esso Houses Echo – A Requiem, Sylvi Kretzschmar continued her research on the format of the megaphone choir. From her experiences of performing at anti-gentrification protests, rallies and other events in the context of the demolition of the Esso houses in the Hamburg neighbourhood St. Pauli, she continued to build a choreography for a theatre context with the group of women who had initially formed the Megaphone Choir. They played a decisive role in the invention, testing and modification of this public address system. As a heterogeneous alliance of women, they brought different agendas and motivations (for example, their concern as residents or neighbours of the houses, political engagement in Hamburg’s Right to the City movement) as well as diverse artistic expertises (as professional dancers/ performers/ choreographers/choir singers) into the rehearsals, which enabled a transdisciplinary research process together with artists and activists. The work was professionally produced and performed on stage at Kampnagel (K1). The theatre space became a laboratory for a redistribution of political speech. Speakers who did not necessarily meet each other were gathered acoustically in the choral requiem of the megaphones. What connected them all were their experiences with the Esso houses. Knowledge about cities and how they function was assembled in their statements, articulated by the ghostly voices of a missing place. The result was a multi-perspective rhetoric that was not eloquent but stuttering, hesitant and full of slips of the tongue: the return of the repressed past. Two days later, the performance was also shown on site at Spielbudenplatz, the location of the former Esso houses. According to the former residents of the houses, the performances fulfilled the concrete function of a funeral for the buildings, a memorial service in situ. The Megaphone Choir became a mourning machine performing a requiem for a vanished place.

Researcher: Sylvi Kretzschmar

Co-researchers: Camilla Milena Fehér, Heike Noeth, Ann-Kathrin Quednau, Liz Rech, Regina Rossi, Annika Scharm, Siri Keil und Lois Bartel, Verena Brakonier, Anne Brüchert, Doreen Grahl, Andrea Hantscher, Christine Schulz, Oxana Smakova, Anja Winterhalter

Participants: residents, tenants and neighbours of the Esso Houses (interviews), audience of the performances, Schwabinggrad Ballet, performance duo SKILLS

Collaborations: Kulturbehörde Hamburg, Initiative Esso Häuser, GWA St. Pauli

Formats: Creating a Media Device, Testing in Performance, Performative Collection, Improbable Assembly, Intervention into the Real