The Tesla Project: Thunderstruck

Thunderstruck is a stage performance created within the Tesla Project. It is a magic act of science and hubris, a live electricity solo show for the magic of the theatre. The solo is created with the help of choreographer Andros Zins-Browne with music by Maria W Horn, light by Josefin Hinders, Tesla coil by Finn Hammer and a coil operator named Katti Alm.

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 brought us several of our century’s most 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 and now 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 the coil produces, but often performed in hyper-masculinized, technique-masturbatory and rock’n’roll-fetishistic shows.

In Thunderstruck, Stina Nyberg 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.

Creating an alternative to the existing macho-spectacular Tesla coil shows, Thunderstruck pairs effective technical innovations with a long-term research on science and magic.

“Det handlar inte om något avskalat solo utan om en estetiskt och dramaturgiskt smart uppbyggd föreställning där musik, ljud- och ljusbild tillsammans med den ibland farligt och förföriskt gnistrande och ljudande teslaspolen bidrar lika mycket till helheten som Stina Nyberg själv.”
Review (in Swedish) in Svenska Dagbladet 29 okt

The solo performance Thunderstruck was created during 2016-2017 with the help of a electricians, archivists, coilers, choreographers, musicians and light designers. It premiered at Kondenz festival in Belgrade on the 21 October with further performances at MDT in Stockholm the 28 October – 1 November 2017.

Choreography and performance: Stina Nyberg
Assistant on stage: Niklas Ren
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 coil operator: 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 Kosanic and Nikola Milenic at makerspace PRAKSA Belgrade, Erik Gabrielsson at KTH
Foto: Märta Thisner
Trailer by José Figueroa