About

Black Works 1991
Photo Bob Van Dantzig
Black Works 1991
Photo Bob Van Dantzig

History

Station House Opera’s first works, Natural Disasters and Sex and Death, and the later Cuckoo introduced an unexpected instability to the mundane physical world of the performers. Other early pieces took precariously to the air, with Drunken Madness suspended under the Brooklyn Bridge and Scenes from a New Jericho in the sky above Amsterdam.

In 1985 Station House Opera produced the first of a series of spectacular architectural performances, which remain one of the best-known threads of the company’s work. A Split Second of Paradise used hundreds of concrete blocks in an ever-changing architectural procession, and was followed in 1988 by Piranesi in New York at the First New York International Festival of the Arts, commissioned by Creative Time for the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage.

These projects paved the way for The Bastille Dances in 1989, commissioned to celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution. A company of 15 created a spectacular constantly moving sculpture with 8,000 concrete blocks in the town of Cherbourg, subsequently presented on London's South Bank as part of LIFT, and in Amsterdam, Salzburg and Barcelona. Two more large-scale outdoor architectural projects took place over the following years. Dedesenn nn rrrrrr, in front of Dresden’s famous Frauenkirche, and The Salisbury Proverbs, a monumental new work in front of the Cathedral.

During the 1990s the company also made a number of touring performance works; including Black Works, which toured extensively in the UK and internationally during 1991, in which a downpour of flour like fine snow turned the black box theatre into a site for a palimpsest of marks, body shapes and drawings that covered the floor, and Limelight, a production based on pre-electric forms of lighting, which premiered as part of Julian Maynard Smith’s Kettles Yard Fellowship at Cambridge University 1993. Snakes and Ladders was commissioned by ACME Studios in East London in 1998 to celebrate their 25th anniversary and marked the company’s first use of life sized video, mixing the actual with the virtual.

Later in 1998 Station House Opera premiered the classic performance work, Roadmetal, Sweetbread, again mixing video and performance. This "little classic of end of the century performance art" (The Scotsman) has toured worldwide, with performances in Europe, China, the Lebanon, Hong Kong, Japan. Taiwan and Brazil and remains in the company's repertoire today.

From 2004 to 2008, Station House Opera produced a series of performances using live video streaming to link two or more locations. In each venue the audience watched a live performance, alongside live-streamed video from the other locations. Live from Paradise in 2004 took place in three locations in Amsterdam and was redeveloped and performed in London, Colchester and Birmingham (simultaneously) in 2005, Play on Earth in 2006 took place across three continents and time zones in front of audiences in Newcastle, Sao Paulo and Singapore, The Other is You connected Brighton, Berlin and Groningen and What’s Wrong with the World in 2008 linked the Soho Theatre Bar in London with a theatre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The company continues to develop works along all of these lines; 2008’s Mind Out was a return to pure performance with a cast of five exploring the impossible question of mindlessness, and as winners of the CREATE Art Award in 2009 the company is working on Dominoes, an extraordinary sculptural procession of concrete blocks through East London.