I am thinking, I am trying to think, I am holding my breath, I am thinking of the past, I am waiting, I am looking ahead, I am looking back, I am testing myself, I am sitting, I am trying to stay calm, I am dreaming of the future, I am holding things steady, I am holding back my tears, I am hesitating, I am sleeping at night, I am sleeping in the daytime, I am watching the rain, I am shadows on the buildings, I am sunlight on glass, I am the sound of birds reflected off a concrete wall, I am condensation on a mirror, I am fingers moving on skin, I am ice melting, I am footsteps, I am chemical reactions. I am trying to break your heart, I am trying to break. I am trying, I am trying to break your heart, I am trying to break your heart, I am trying to break your heart.
Heartbreaking Final is a music and text performance created in a collaboration between artist Tim Etchells and violinist Aisha Orazbayeva. The piece is performed by an ensemble featuring performers Nicki Hobday and John Rowley, as well as violinist Chihiro Ono alongside Etchells and Orazbayeva themselves. The work begins from Etchells’ rolling fragmentary language, which ebbs between chaos and an unexpectedly intimate personal address.
Beginning from a simple set of statements Etchells’ text for Heartbreaking Final is a portrait of a feverish world, at once immediately recognisable and strange. It starts as a list – an unfolding catalogue of human activities and states of mind, moving from action to reflection and back again, from one activity and perspective to another. As the text goes on it shifts and changes, weaving vivid memory and overheard conversation. Orazbayeva’s musical arrangements for strings meanwhile layer the multiple voices of the text with drones, melodies and jittering percussive sounds as the speakers – sometimes single, sometimes unison – whispering, singing, speaking, yelling – invoke a restless thought process that is both collective and singular – a complex orchestration of free association, looping, insisting and breaking free.
Searching for a performance mode that is about ideas and images as well as about the direct, immersive and emotional communication that music makes possible Etchells and Orazbayeva are building on and departing from their practice as an improvising duo. Heartbreaking Final further develops their interest in the relation between voice as semantics and voice as texture, rhythm, tone and music, placing vocal materials in equal counterpoint with strong musical elements that establish their own dynamics and structure throughout the piece.
In visual terms, Heartbreaking Final presents a bold statement, the stage dominated by a new neon sculpture from Etchells whose text based videos, neons and LED works have been shown in public spaces and major institutions around the world. Heartbreaking Final – highly performative, minimal, focused on ideas, questions and images summoned through language – emerges from both script writing and from Etchells’ established process of developing material through performer improvisation.
Concept Tim Etchells, Aisha Orazbayeva Text, Direction Tim Etchells Music Aisha Orazbayeva With Tim Etchells, John Rowley, Nicki Hobday and Aisha Orazbayeva (violin), Chihiro Ono (violin) Light design Alex Fernandes Sound design Alexandre Fostier Production management Alex Fernandes Production Forced Entertainment Coproduction Wiener Festwochen Premiere September 2021, Wiener Festwochen