By Haug / Kaegi / Wetzel
500 years ago, by writing his book “Utopia”, Tomas Morus put forward his alternate draft to the world he was living in: a vision of an ideal society, whose citizens were ready to abstain from personal property and individualism for the commonweal and equal rights.
In times of euro-skepticism, nationalism, privatisation and demagogy, it is well worth it to pick up Morus's book once again. What would an ideal world look like for us today? What kind of utopias can we think up in the 21stcentury? And how can we make them visible?
Utopolis takes the audience on a journey through their city and invites them, for one evening, to set course towards shared or opposing utopias. At 48 different locations in the city, initially small audience groups form, each around a portable speaker. Voices and sounds from the speaker lure them out of these cafés, stores, offices or private houses on to the streets of the city. On their way they meet other groups with portable speakers whose musical elements will add to theirs, forming a greater picture. Together they steer towards an emblematic assembly point: a court, a church, a city hall or a university auditing hall. There, they meet more and more people and let the polyphony of voices seduce them to ask the rooms how they have become what they are – and how they could be different: How do we administer justice and how do we enact a law? How do we organise knowledge and how do we prepare coming generations for the future? What do we believe in? How do we want to live together?
Hundreds of audience members will be collective co-authors of the ephemeral utopias of this evening. At the end, not only the utopian visions have grown, but also the crowd of people which has gathered at a central square to the sound of the 48 portable speakers.
Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Theatre Olympics 2019, Schauspiel Köln and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021. Produced by Manchester International Festival.