IKAROS - youonlyliveonce

A documentary and fictional theater evening


Young boy – wings – sun – crash.

“No wings, I want no wings in the picture.” I sit in a café I have my first meeting with the director Andreas Mihan. There is a feeling of knowing him. He is quiet and calm and friendly and gives you room to open up, yet he is precise and you get the instant impulse of you are kindly directed by him as well. I was asked to take the picture for the poster. We work with ex drug addicts and RaSoP gGmbH and Projekttheater Dresden – The Ikaros story is the frame work and their own stories are woven in. Ok, I get the facts and I immediately state my discomfort with the idea of the actors standing in a forest wearing wings, well maybe a dead pigeon but that pigeon has not had a change to look death in the eye and say “It is not my time yet.” So I shake it off as a bad joke.

First sight

I am invited to the Projekttheater in Dresden to meet the actors and to get an impression. They are mainly in their early 20th. I got introduced as the photographer who will do the picture for the poster and I am here today for a “get to know each other” and a first handshake. I look in interested faces and to make it easier I get politely invited to the warm up.

Blending in

Theater pedagogical magic tricks are waiting about to be put onto me. Warm up: we walk around in the room and I do to, swing my arms and stretch them, rolling them to why not. Somehow I find myself in a circle and we change to games. I am a bit uncertain what will come next and it did. A short memory reaction game - inside of me I hear the inner judge with a big “Oh noooooo. You make a fool out of yourself.” Panic is there as well, I can’t even remember the rules, not even talking about ‘We are playing what? How were the words?’ Everybody looks at me, MY TURN, my brain goes in stall, I panic, my mouth forms lips like a fish and nothing or some word you find in no dictionary slips out at least wave my arm. Everybody laughs. I did it wrong. I can’t even remember when I did something like that. I watch, I sweat, I do it wrong over and over again but we laugh and the laughing is not judgmental at all. Laughing, I am laughing, I am playing. Am I enjoying myself? At some point I realize the panic had gone, I had heard the words over and over again, I have gotten used to the people in the circle and oh my god how the laughing just broke the ice. My brain had processed all the visual information; I slowly developed a feeling for the others around me. No, I was concentrating and tried to actually play the game. We swung in harmony, we bounded. I was in. I was self-forgotten. What did just happen? What was happening? I just discovered a new tool for creating trustful situations and one more time the power of laughing. Self-forgotten – being the inner child. After the warm-up I sat on the side and watch them rehearse or developing the play. The director encourages me to take pictures. I go straight in the middle, I am lying next to them I am in their faces and they let me.

From single image to fly with us

After my introduction class I send the pictures to the director and he is touched by my results and he invites me to follow the rehearsals and document the process. Deal! What a surprise when I came back and wasn’t welcome with open arms. During the intro round of the day I get clear resentments. Two of the actors don’t feel like being photographed. This is new to me and I immediately feel sympathy. What am I going to do now if one or two don’t want me to take pictures of them? I leave this to later and see how it develops. I am part of the warm-up again and this day we never rehearsed or created a play we all needed to get our minds off and we needed to feel good with the others. This is how I ended up participating in all the games. Ending with me running around in the room, screaming like a 5 year old when someone chased me and tried to touch me. I was out of breath, my chest opened from all the laughter. I was exhausted and completely open. I was easy; I was once again a part of the group – this time stronger. In the end the young man who had a difficult time with me being in his face with my camera became my friend of the day. We have been growing closer ever since.

Suddenly I felt my own wings touching burning sun

The Saturdays were IKAROS days now and every time I experienced my blending in, finding myself touching my inner boarders and crossing them. There were many times were my camera was not invasive at all but my instrument of hiding. I watched, I learned, I got sucked in and I learned to really like and respect every single one and connected with every single one in a suiting unique way. There were difficult times with studying the classical Ovid text and memorizing, for a long time the play was in process until it started shaping and they started the actual rehearsal. The most touching and challenging ingredient was the personal drug history of each actor. I have heard them over and over again but until today I cannot imagine such experiences and can’t stop shaking my head in disbelief, hurting me more the more I befriend myself with them. At the same time I couldn’t help myself finding them stronger than me in a way. The drug stories were to me just the result of many other events of pain, loneliness, and feeling of not belonging, emptiness and invisibility. This hit home as all those feelings have been long shadows and cloth that didn’t fit in my life. I could follow them. For a while the topic of buried creativity had been a subject for me. The IKAROS project was a complex experience a patch work of self-awareness, life lesson, change of perspective, losing boarders, overcoming inner hurdles of intimacy and shame and watching the tools of expression might it be dancing, body movement, laughing, running, taking pictures, body language, gestures, sound, no sound, words.

No one died

They worked hard, they reached their limits especially when facing fear and discomfort and bad memories and pain and they flew once again and this time they were carried by respect and the satisfaction which comes with a sense of completion when everything comes on stage and the audience’s wave of clapping is giving you appreciation. What strength! What hunger for life? One actor who had committed several suicide attempts asks - what this life is all about. It seems as if he is bound to find out. Obviously his core has a very strong will to live. Youonlyliveonce – don’t miss it.