Anna Vera Kelle
Hannah Perner-Wilson
Mika Satomi

“Symphoneie” is an interactive theater piece for young audience (+13 years old), developed in corporation with the Theater Strahl in Berlin.

The piece invites 60 audience to be a member of an orchestra. Each participants are given a string instrument, a cello, a viola or a violin. The “rehearsal” starts soon after you get the general introduction to the instruments. Three actors from the theater lead you through the story of “what happened in the last season” as the rehearsal continues.

You may know or not know how to play string instruments, but this is not a problem. These are special instruments equipped with Bela mini synthesizer board inside. The instruments tells you when to play, just like the “guitar hero” game. Hold the bow tight and place it on the strings, as if you are playing a violin, a viola or a cello. The correct note comes out when you catch the timing, and you can temporally be a musician of an orchestra.

The piece stages racial discrimination that takes place within power structures, and discusses how social hierarchy and group dynamics plays roles in them. In this interactive theater piece, one does not only witness the situation but experience it as an active participants. The piece offers audience to discuss with each other within and after the piece. It is surprising to notice that many of the young audience are subjected to these situations in their everyday-live in schools as witnesses and sometimes as victims .

The piece is running regularly at the Theater Strahl, Ostkreuz Berlin Germany, as a part of 2023/24 program.

Artistic Directions:
Anna Vera Kelle (Director)
Hannah Perner-Wilson & Mika Satomi (KOBAKANT)

Amos Detscher
Matthias Kelle
Lara Sophie Milagro

Theaterpädagogik: Joanna Mandalian
Assistant Director: Daria Herken
Technical Assistant for Instruments building: Leonie Hanna Kopineck
Programming Support: Pete Haughie
Expert for Discrimination discussions: Mohammed Jouni
Educational Material Development: Lina Bähr
Premier Class Assistant: Vero Risnovska

Photography: Jörg Metzner
Videography: Leyla Hoppe/Marijana Verhoef

This project is funded by the JUPITER Darstellende Künste für junges Publikum program in Germany

Symphonie was produced in corporation with Theater Strahl, funded by the JUPITER Darstellende Künste für junges Publikum program in Germany.

We as KOBAKANT (mika and hannah) participated in this project as initiator of the topic and main idea, and also to develop the interaction scheme, such as developments of instruments, how it can be used and what role it plays in the piece. We chose the “discrimination and power structure” as our topic as I directly encounter one story from a child who was experiencing such situations in a school system.
It was challenging task to translate this sensitive topic into a interactive theater piece. The script of the piece was developed through the rehearsal process between the director, Anna Vera and the actors, Amos, Mattias and Lara-Sophie. We also had a chance to interview students from the Premier class to get insight of students life.

As KOBAKANT, our big task was to develop and build 60 interactive instruments. It is equipped with Bela mini board which can read analog sensors and handle real time synthesis. Pete Haughie has supported us to develop a sequencer module in PD for Bela. Hannah has designed beautiful violin and cello casing shape with careful planning of electronics placements inside and was CNC milled by Marcus Rückewoldt. We used actual violin strings on it, which is metal (conductive!). We added conductive thread on the bow strings, which is extended to the handles so when you hold the bow, you are electrically connected to the bow string. When you carefully look at the instruments, the neck has a copper conductive tape on its back. As you “play” the strings with the bow, you make the electrical contact and the Bela in the instruments synthesizes the string sound. The programming of this interaction is made with Pure Data. If anyone is interested in looking at the code, it is posted on github. (sorry, it is not very cleaned up but you will get the idea)

I must credit our wonderful assistant Leonie Hanna Kopineck for all her dedication to the building of these instruments. Without her, we would not have made it to premier. Thanks Leonie!

And last but not the least, I must also credit Ingo Randolf for supervising network issues and supporting our late night debugging before the premier day. Thank you Ingo!