Anhelli. The Howl during Theatre Olympics in Saint Petersburg

21-22nd October

Saint Petersburg
Presentations of "Anhelli. The Howl" performances.

„Anhelli. The Howl” is a musical performance, sung live and composed of Armenian songs, Greek hymns and Orthodox Irmoses.

 In the performance we ask the basic question about the inability to experience and express death. Death cannot be told, nor can any representation be built, so we focus here on those few minutes of mourning when mourners gather in the house of the departed person and make a farewell, dismiss the deceased. However, this is not just a gesture of farewell, but a real disconnection, sending away, maybe freeing the soul. Death is not just a moment of transition but a process that takes time. „Anhelli” wants to bring theater from before the rupturę into different  disciplines and styles.

In the performance we use the main character and people accompanying him from Juliusz Słowacki’s poem „Anhelli”. One of whom is a woman, his chosen heart and the other an angel. We choose them only to tell about the process of spiritual separation. Let's imagine that the human soul consists of dozens of quotes, thoughts, feelings and connections with other people. After death, they need to be untied and loosen, which takes time. The performance speaks only of a few minutes of farewell, but in fact the whole process would take an hour, forty days, a year or even more. As if time has lost its linearity measured by the clock. Death is not just a moment of transition, it is a process and „Anhelli” tells about it.

 But Słowacki's poem became only a point of literary attachment, hence the only words of the poet that are present at the beginning of the performance are actually the last words of the poem. The performance pays homage to Słowacki as a great artist, but this is not a staging of his poem. Both the poem and Anhelli as a character are unknown to both foreign and Polish recipients. That is why we write down into our spectacle, with the help of musical dramaturgy originating from the Christian liturgy, from various funeral rites, the figure of Anhelli - the savior, and at the same time in the persons accompanying him we see such rejected and unrecognized characters like Mary Magdalene.

 Hence in the performance we use non-canonical Gnostic texts, not the poem's texts. The unique collection of songs performed by the actors was formed in the process of at least ten years of searching. Teatr ZAR method of work is based on long-term work with singers from various traditions until our actors are able to sing each song together and participate in a common liturgy or funeral ritual. Only then can the song become a part of the performance.

 Fascinating for us as a theater are the connections with religious rituals and especially in the case of „Anhelli” with funeral rites. Parallels with the theater Nō can be found here, both our approach and traditional Japanese theater focuses on making present unpresent. Through the power of viewers inclusion, we create a theater that makes present - in this case the moment of death and mourning- through staging and funeral songs. The creators of the theater Nō know very well that the only techniques we have at the theater are representation techniques. We don't have access to others. However, we use representation techniques on stage to make something present.

„Anhelli. The Howl” performance belongs to the Gospels of Childhood. The Triptych.


Direction and concept: Jarosław Fret

Musical dramaturgy: Jarosław Fret in cooperation with Aleksandra Kotecka and Tomasz Wierzbowski

Vocal preparation: Aleksandra Kotecka and Tomasz Wierzbowski

Light: Maciej Mądry


Anhelli - Mertcan Semerci

Ditte Berkeley, Ekaterina Egorova, Kamila Klamut, Davit Baroyan, Alessandro Curti,  Jarosław Fret, Aleksandra Kotecka, Aleksandra Kugacz-Semerci, Orest Sharak, Tomasz Wierzbowski, Laura Locher

More information here