project image
Thomas Lenden

first performed on February 10, 2012
Steelwork factory De Afbramerij, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
performed 20 times in 2012


Tchelet Weintraub, Jochen Stechmann, Arjen Dijkstra, Dennis Molendijk, DasArts, Thomas Lenden

Amsterdam, Netherlands


“ADRIFT” is a theatrical installation that uses 12,000 liters of water to set the audience adrift.

After entering an old factory the audience steps into an empty basin consisting of two “chambers.” They are handed blankets, a candle, a matchbox with three matches, a cake and a knife. The audience is then seated at a table, whereupon two performers close the hatch that divides the chambers. The two start opening the twelve containers, while expressing things they don’t understand about life and society, thus flooding the first “chamber.” The audience starts floating, is spun around by the performers and then brought to halt at the hatch between the two chambers.

As the hatch is opened the audience rides the wave that floods the second chamber. As the water expands it gets shallower and the audience gets stuck amidst the water. A pair of rubber boots is then brought to the stranded raft, dangling from a huge crane. The audience then has to negotiate how to ‘get to the shore’ with dry feet. Once the audience members reach shore safely they are offered drinks and asked to go one by one into a confessional where they are asked to record answers to four questions, and by doing this they ‘re-live’ the experience.

I’m investigating the idea that there are at least two “recordings” of each event: one when something actually and physically happens and the second when the brain registers it and affirms the sensation by connecting that to similar experiences and their implications. I’m trying to benefit from this double-take and to influence it.

What does one need to make an audience experience a sequence of events as an analogy with society? Is there a metaphorical potential in an experience?

In order to understand better how one can manipulate the physical presence, I’ve constructed an installation in which to confine and envelop the audience, thus enabling me to use the theatrical machinery, otherwise used on stage, directly on the audience.

“Adrift” relies on experience, on the sensation of being adrift. It uses the symbolism of water, leavers in the Dutch connotation of polders and floods. It uses those elements to forge a unifying experience for a participating audience and tries to activate body memory to make the event resonate.