Modern science says: The sun is the past, the earth is the present, the moon is the future. From an incandescent mass we have originated, and into a frozen mass we shall turn. Merciless is the law of nature, and rapidly and irresistibly we are drawn to our doom. (…) Meanwhile the cheering lights of science and art, ever increasing in intensity, illuminate our path, and the marvels they disclose, and the enjoyments they offer, make us measurably forgetful of the gloomy future.”

Nikola Tesla “The problem of increasing human energy” 1900

Thunderstruck walks in the footsteps of the genius and madman Nikola Tesla. In the end of the 19th century, the Serbian-American inventor Tesla invented several of our centuries important innovations in electricity and communication. He also invented the tesla coil, an electrical resonant transformer circuit used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Basically, a device that produces lightning bolts that can be used for entertainment in live electricity shows.

Thunderstruck departs from the 19th century phenomena of touring electricity shows. At a time when electricity was still a scientific novelty it was displayed in public performances as acts of magic. Today, a contemporary heir to the electricity magic show is the tesla coil performance, making use of the spectacular sound and light effects produced by the coil, but often wise performed in hyper-masculinized, technique-masturbatory and rock’n’roll-fetishistic shows.

Thunderstruck is a feminist take on the tesla coil show. It departs from an interest in a choreography of movement, sound and objects on equal grounds – where both the live performer, the lights, technique and soundscape act as main protagonists. It will create an alternative to the existing macho-spectacular tesla coil shows, pairing effective technical innovations with a long-term research on science and magic.

Thunderstruck returns to a time when the artist and scientist believed in transforming the forces of nature into the forces that propel society, harnessing natural energy for crafting nearly magical devices.

During autumn 2016 a research with the archivist Sandra Linnell took a look at the gendered history of electricity, the cult of the genius and the potential of magic. The solo performance Thunderstruck is created during the autumn 2017 and will premiere at Kondenz festival in Belgrade on the 21 October and at MDT the 28-29+ 31 October 2017.

Choreography and performance: Stina Nyberg
Choreographic assistance: Andros Zins-Browne
Research: Sandra Linnell, Stina Nyberg, Zoë Poluch
Composition and sound design: Maria W Horn
Light design: Josefin Hinders
Technical supervisor and security: Katti Alm / MDT
Producer: Frida Tiger / MDT
Technical assistance: Axel Norén
Coiler: Finn Hammer / Hammertone
High voltage consultant: Roya Nikjoo
Administration: Interim kultur
Residency, co-production and performances: MDT in Stockholm, Station in Belgrade, The National Touring Theatre of Sweden and residency support by
Supported by: The Swedish Arts Council, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, Kulturbryggan, City of Stockholm, Stockholm County Council and [DNA] Departures and Arrivals network which is co-financed by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission
Thanks to: David Choi at makerspace Fat Cat Fat Lab NYC, Miroslav and Nikola at makerspace PRAKSA Belgrade, Erik Gabrielsson at KTH
Foto: Märta Thisner