TRANS- (2015)


TRANS- is the first piece in what became a trilogy of works that are linked by a conceptual baton pass.

The starting point for TRANS- is an attempt to understand the repulsion and attraction of violence, it is an investigation that ultimately turned to the logic of language as the ultimate mechanism of violence. In particular the way in which when something is given a name or descriptor it becomes caught in a web of expectations and limitations that is pre-defined by the name has been given. 

In TRANS- we want to test language to see if we can expose its habits and subvert its ways.

In an intimate circle of 40 chairs the audience become simultaneously spectators and participants in the performance. They provide the material of the show, as the 4 performers describe them in a constant stream of words over the 50 minute duration. The descriptions vary in form and focus but in their practice the performers commit to inventing nothing and denying nothing, meaning that they attempt to always tell the truth and never hold back the truth. They commit to this even as they progress from describing undeniable facts to description through metaphors. There is no pre-written material or dramatic agendas, just the continuously developing interaction with the audience and a slow spiraling choreography that takes the performers through the space and into contact with each audience member.

The effect of this commitment to see afresh in every moment is that an intimacy emerges between the seer and the seen in which many different kinds of experience can happen, some comical, some profound, some ridiculous. Even the distinction between subject and object becomes blurred as oftentimes the performer’s vulnerability in their practice makes them more visible than the audience member being described.

As the descriptions continuously fill the space an excess emerges in which we are made aware of a constant movement. The once concrete subjects of objectification reveal themselves to be in a constant state of becoming, processing through an infinite stream of identities, never settling on just one. Fixed identity appears as a mirage, as a dagger whose handle we can’t ever quite clutch.

TRANS- is inspired by the ceremonial structure in which there are no spectators, only participants, where there are multiple events that occur simultaneously without contradicting each other.


Idea & Staging
Jonathan Bonnici, Marie-Louise Stentebjerg
Staging & process documentation
Ida-Elisabeth Larsen
Jonathan Bonnici, Emma-Cecilia Ajanki, Piet Gitz-Johansen, Robert Logrell
Light, scenography & costume
Hanna Reidmar
Lighting technician
Kerstin Weimers
Sound artist
Santi Rieser
Graphic & process documentation
Samuel Gregory Moore
Co-produced by Bora Bora
Supported by: Danish Arts Foundation, Copenhagen City Council, Odense City Council, Augustinus Fonden, Arts Council UK, Teater Momentum, Dansehallerne (Laboratoriescenen), Dansarena Nord, Play Practice Residency, Mumuksha Centre for Transformation.


“There are few sound and light effects. But I was rapt. TRANS-, two-woman-machine-show and Jonathan Bonnici, has stripped theatre bare to two elements: a power-exchange between performer and audience member, and language. . . .TRANS-, more than anything else I saw at Theatertreffen, turned the medium inside out to look for a new form of sympathetic magic.”

Lily Kelting, Theatertreffen blog

“This is the re-birth of theatre. An audience gathers in a space with a group of actors to make a testament to meaning, human existence and the way we tell stories. That’s how it’s always been in the theatre. two woman-machine-show and Jonathan Bonnici are showing us, as if for the first time, the oldest truth.”

Jury statement, Stückemarkt, Theatertreffen 2016, by Simon Stone

“Und auch wenn der Abend gegen Ende seinem eigenen Schematismus zum Opfer fällt, ist “TRANS-” einer der radikalsten und aufregendsten Beiträge des Festivals – und in der Abstraktion vielleicht sogar nah dran, eine Aussage über die politischen Umbrüche der Gegenwart treffen zu können.”

Michael Isenburg at


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