Work Song – As Time Goes By


Written and directed by: Hajnal Németh

Composed by: Brian Ledwidge Flynn

Performed by: Simon Fagan and band (Matthew Dal Din, Gidon Carmel, Christian Thor Bringzen, Francesco De Rosa), Gábor Altorjay, Desney Bailey, Knut Berger, Timothy Beutler, Polina Borissova, Thomas Leo Chapman, Lea Draeger, Júlia Koffler and Albert Orgon

Contributors: Gergely László, Gergely Eortzen Nagy and Annette Wiegand
Project management: Clara Stein
Technical management: Gustavo Sanromán
Translations: Christina Kunze, Dániel Sipos 

Voices for voices: the passive voice, the directing voice, the obvious voice, the skeptic voice, the missing voice, the suitable voice, the selector voice, the resigned voice, the late voice, the present voice, the invisible voice, another voice, the free voice and the controlled volume.

In terms of form, the piece follows the choreography of open mic auditions, where performers competing in a given genre usually stage their own productions, adjusting their acts to real or assumed expectations. In the present case, performers are applying for different roles in the musical entitled “Work Song”. The roles, however, are also fictional – as is the musical itself – and the plot of the musical is comprised by the selection of applicants for the specified roles, in other words, the auditioning process. The audition takes place in the presence of other candidates and the commission – made complete by the audience. Thus – although as voyeurs in a sense – the audience becomes a participant in the show with its presence. This situation is underpinned by the lack of a stage as well as any stage lighting, set or costumes. The space is set up to suggest that anyone could grab the microphone, but the consistent choreography makes it obvious that the composition of the performance is pre-designed, closed and complex. Within this structure, there is freedom for improvisation – depending on the individual interpretive method of each performer – and for deviation from the libretto.

The various successive songs, poems and proses each convey a main message and a subordinated narrative story. The successive parts will not combine into one specific story, but rather they convey an abstract of several stories: the bindings and possibilities, the lifestyle and perspectives of working and non-working people. Two opposite approaches are confronted: existence by work as an exclusive system of relations, and the condition of unemployment as an interpretable basic position.

This mirroring is demonstrated by the consistently converse lyrics of the musical’s two fundamental songs – “Work Song” and “Absolution”. The other songs are in part covers and adaptations, held together by a musical composition that underscores the entire piece with variations on a single theme: the “Song Without Work”.


Funded by: Kulturverwaltung des Berliner Senats

Additional supporter: Allianz Kulturstiftung

Partners in realization: CHB – Balassi Institute, ZKU –  Center for Art and Urbanistics