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Why We Climb. Notes on 'Sisyphus Ascending'

Sisyphus Ascending is the beautiful tale of an office clerk, twisting, turning and wrestling with his daily routine. Every day ends with attempts at escape into an elevated plane of his existence, only to see him regress and, like the eponymous Greek hero, start all over again.

Elements of scenography bring life to the play and nothing is purely decorative – their roles and meanings are revealed gradually, as the story progresses, mirroring the transformation of the character: from the joy with which he embraces his routines, to allowing himself to be seduced into breaking his patterns, and eventually rebelling.

You can’t help but love this flawed and hopeful character, who’ll take you on a full-spectrum journey of emotional states, with deep, unfiltered empathy being the most prevalent of them all. You hope for a successful ascent, champion him along his exhausting tasks, and absorb to some extent his every fall. It might be bravery that pushes him on, or it might be fate – the struggle for control is nevertheless there. Control and freedom of choice over paperwork, the gargantuan filing cabinet, with a mind of its own, the climbing pole that dooms his ascent – it all feels so possible, yet eventually out of reach.

What this contemporary Sisyphus manages to control are his movements, his body in choreography. If early in the play, this announces itself as a possible challenge (a twitching, rebellious leg), body movement is, by the end, masterfully controlled. Outstanding technical abilities, unbelievable balance skills, and a poetic delivery of acrobatic virtuosity join Sisyphus on his inevitable, recurring descent, vindicating his struggle, and proving to be a possible key to escaping the smothering routine.

We’re not told exactly how Sisyphus ended up in his routine. But we don’t have to be told; the marks of absurd, the push back from elements of his life, the trusting return to trying what was previously a failure – they are all universal, recognisable to us all. We all push our Sisyphean boulders every day, and how many of us really know why?

Sisyphus Ascending is presented by DYNAMO and Teater Momentum.


Performance, idea and creation:
Lars Gregersen

Director and dramaturg:
Nina Larissa Bassett

Choreographic research:
John Paul Zaccarini
 & Camila Sarrazin

Sounds and music:
Johan Segerberg

Lighting design:
Mogens Kjempff

Musical consultant:
Savannah Agger

Choreographic consultant:
Kitt Johnson

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