War and Peace

live video performance based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy

“Hold this book. Heavy isn’t it? Actually that’s only half of it. It’s one of the longest in the world. It has 1256 pages (depending on the edition and language you are reading in), originally written in four volumes, there’s more than 500 characters. Have you actually read it? I’m only halfway through.”

Not so far from the shifting borders of conflict and violence, in a place ravaged by peace, Gob Squad attempt to hold a salon, a gathering similar to those held in High Society Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. Their starting point is to contemplate War and Peace, a book written over almost a century and a half ago which has become part of history.

Guests are introduced according to rank and status, some are invited to drink fine champagne and contemplate their relation to conflict, freedom and privilege. Entertainment and distraction is provided in the form of dance, song and fashion shows. As the performers try on the roles of historic leaders and czars they begin to compete for the audience’s empathy and identification. Egos duel as the performers draw on the ordinariness of their own day to day perspectives of power. Playful and improvised, War and Peace is a reflection of Tolstoy’s desire to dissect the conditions of history and ask if it is possible to live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world? Or in our times, how can we live inside capitalism, comfortable in the knowledge of the absolute damage and suffering that our daily, ordinary “peaceful” lifestyles promise?

First performance: 23th March 2016 (Münchner Kammerspiele Munich, Germany)