Theatre review: Rethinking human existence in ‘The 4th Morning’

by Gwendolin Güntzel, photos by BORA BORA

‘The 4th Morning’ (Den 4 Morgen) is an art piece which surprises through unusual audiovisual effects in combination with a more or less conventional performance. ‘The 4th Morning’ is co-produced by Convoi Exceptionnel and BORA BORA. Conceived by Signe Klejs and Jon R. Skulberg, it premiered at Aarhus’ BORA BORA theatre on January 31st.

“I believe we are all creators, destroyers and narrators of our own worlds”; this statement reflects the narrative of ‘The 4th Morning’ at its best. A play that gives thought-provoking impulses to rethink human existence, drawing images about the past, present and future of mankind. A play about birth and re-birth, formation and re-formation in the ongoing cycle of life.

The happening
‘The 4th Morning’ begins with a strong audiovisual introduction. A collage of different overlapping video projections appear on a transparent curtain set at the front of the stage, and on a screen in the back, alongside dramatic music. Fluently changing images of cell tissue, water and other earthly elements combined with vivid music to create special movements on screen and a truly exceptional experience on stage.

The second part focuses on a rigid form of spoken theatre mixed with fragments of body performance. Lisbeth Sonne Andersen only uses movements to express herself. She is the first person who opens the stage and takes her time to do so. Her character is not yet tangible; it needs to transform. She moves slowly, her eyes turn to the action on stage, she is waiting and observing – as the audience is, too.


Irmelin Ronsholdt stands out with her performance, despite her young age

Her antagonist is a child, who is simultaneously the narrator of the story. Dressed in white to symbolise innocence, her movements are static and her behaviour is almost mechanic, hiding any emotions. She does not behave childish or naive, but is rather fully aware of her own narrowness, disillusioned about the destiny of humankind.

To illustrate that philosophical approach on mankind, the plot becomes touchable through three persons symbolising the modern man – artist Finn Adrian Jorkjen, priest Anne Mette Gravgaard, who lost a leg and an arm in a traffic accident, and transgender Malene Andreasen. One after the other they are introduced with video projections on screen, clarifying main facts as age, origin and profession.

During their monologues, questions of globalisation, technology, modern medicine and sexuality pop up in your mind. What do new possibilities mean for our own existence, and where is the difference between our lives and those of our ancestors?

Effective tools
Especially through the manner of breaking through the ‘fourth wall’, the audience is caught by eye contact and begins to share concerns and problems with those on stage. The atmospheric picture stays melancholic and calm until the end.

Although three out of five actors do not work as artists usually, their performances were nonetheless suitably convincing. Particularly noteworthy is the child’s performance, Irmelin Ronsholdt, who acted in a calm and confident way, despite her young age.


On earth it is all about new beginnings

Even though the performance began with a rather long audiovisual introduction, the main part contained a lot of Danish language, meaning that the philosophical input could unfortunately not be understood properly by a non-Danish speaker. However, printed flyers were available in English so that everybody could get an insight into the lyrical texts written by Anne Helene Guddal.

What remains is a considerable evening that plays upon ideas of human existence. Where there is death, there becomes re-birth, re-formation. Since on earth there is no end; there is only new beginning.

‘The 4th Morning’ ran from January 31st to February 4th at Aarhus’ BORA BORA theatre. Co-produced by Convoi Exceptionnel and BORA BORA, it is also supported by the Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for the Performing Arts, Committee for Music Scholarships and Committee for Visual Art, as well as the Nordic Culture Fund and the City of Aarhus.

Read more about Signe Klejs, the artist behind the performance, here. And find out about upcoming performances at BORA BORA here.

‘The 4th Morning’ trailer:


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