Rabenlied: When Falling in Love with Death is their goal

(Okay, no, this has nothing to do with suicide… directly.)

Have any of you ever gotten lost somewhere very unfamiliar and far from your home and somehow ended up somewhere extraordinary? I have!! And here is the story of how I got to witness the most spectacular adventure ever!

So, I was visiting my friends up north, in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) (If you read my past blogs, you’d know I live in the United States).  For the time being that I would be staying there, they wanted to show me around, it being my first time in that part of Canada. Sadly, my friends aren’t the best navigators, leading to us getting lost somewhere down town.

As we tried to find our way to the Legislature, (A governmental building) we saw a few kids walking from the other side of the street towards the Subway near us. There was something odd about these kids and as we got closer and closer, we realized they were all dressed up in Gothic clothing. Not only that, but their makeup was extremely frighting! Some looked like normal emo/goth girls and boys, with a lot of black but other looked like, dare I say it, dolls. Yes, dolls.

One girl in particular, kept a little behind the others. She wore the same scary look as the others, but she was a lot smaller in size (height wise). My friends decided to ask her for directions, and I aimlessly tagged along.

We got closer and she smiled at us, as we asked her where to go. Now, we were staring, a lot. And she noticed this.

“It’s alright, you can ask. It’s for a production anyway” she says to us while laughing.

And so we asked. Apparently, across the street at a placed called the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, There was going to be a show. The tickets with the dates and times of that show are in the pictures as well as the poster.

She explained it to us like this (Not her exact words, but this is as close as I remember) 

“It’s basically a story that follows a young man who gets lost in the forest after coming from war or something. And then, a raven or a crow chases him to a manor, where he just sorta walks in. Suddenly, the Grim Reaper comes back home and oops, it’s her house. Now He’s freaked out, like, dude, you’re face to face with death and she looks like a girl but she’s holding a big scythe. So she shows him around, some acts are shown, and then she has to go for her ‘Kill of the night’  and she leaves him alone. Dun dun duh, her sisters, Conquest and Famine (or Pestilence) come back and tell him to do something that Death had previously told him not to do, and it’s like, Oh, My God, you are an idiot, don’t do it! But he does, and she comes back just in time to be sucked into the world of the lost, as I like to call it, where they have to face the seven sins in order to get out, if they don’t, well… you’re stuck for real now, haha”

She was very optimistic about it, which kind of scared us, but it was nice to see her so into what she was doing. On Saturday, we all convinced ourselves to take the night off and go to this production. (I later learnt that her name was Stephany, so if you are reading this, HI!)

From the moment you walk in to the moment you walk out the doors of the area itself, the show is on. Clowns are everywhere, picking at your cloths, asking for directions in gibberish and wow! (Keep in mind, I will be saying ‘WOW’ a lot.)

The place was fairly small, compared to all the large theatrical places here in America, but it was still nice. Me and my friends decided to take a seat a little in the middle, like, back, because we still had no idea what was happening.

When the lights dimmed, a young man, dressed all gothic, came up and started to speak. My friends nudged each other and started bickering about how hot he looked, (I later discovered, after sending an email, that that was the teacher… but still, damn that’s one fit teacher)

The show began, and oh Lord above, it was as if you had been transported into an entirely different universe! (If you want to read about what happened in the play, it will be at the very end.)

After the show, I decided to send my appreciation to the email address given at the back of the tickets. And as I did so, as well as a lot of other research, I figured out, THIS IS A SCHOOL PERFORMANCE!

The group is called, Circumfero, meaning masquerade, and it all began when the music teacher of the Winnipeg High school,Centre Scolaire Léo-Rémillard, saw one of his students stretching for an contortion performance (she also did aerial). They suddenly decided, ‘Why not just start a circus?’ (At first though, they thought of having their band performance have a theme and use that with a few acts, but realized they needed a more organized, bigger and better performance)

So, Mr Wsiaki (The teacher’s name) went around recruiting students who could do various talents from the school, and from the 8th graders planing on going to that highschool the year to come. (Apparently, he goes to do this every year to each school in that district)

The first year, it was called ‘Circumfero’, the second ‘Aeternam’ (Eternal), the third, ‘Vincere'(Victory)  and this one right here, the forth ‘Rabenlied'(Raven’s song).

For this productions, the music is mostly done by Mr Wsiaki himeself (with help from students) during the summer. The previous year, (once the other circus is finished) they begin right away in deciding the next plot and story. Based of off the talents, he separates the acts in a way to fit the storyline.

From September till December (although this year, it was March), they practice and practice and practice. Sacrificing lunch hours and after school hours, they work their butts off. The decoration is all made my the students as well (IT’S SO AWESOME) and in the art class with their teacher, Mrs Roberta. The costumes are all made and provided by the students as well. (Fun Fact: The Principle of the school, Mr Normandeau played a guitar solo in the song Mr Grim Reaper. That shows how implied the teachers are as well. Also, some former students, such as the king who fenced, came back JUST for the production. The passion!)

The fact that this production took so little time, compared to countless others that have been famous all around the world (Broadway, Disney shows, Cirque du Soleil) and yet, of all that I have been too (and that’s a lot) this is the only one that made me feel the way I did.

For Rabenlied, there were so many metaphorical, hidden messages, that were revealed to me by Nathanael Wsiaki himself through email, such as the following, and these are in his words through the email he sent me.

Fun fact: during the first act, the actors playing the deadly sins were dancing in the masquerade. This is not something we meant to share or demonstrate, but technically it’s like the sins were always there in the manor, and were posing during the masquerade, hiding their identity. They wore the same makeup, but it was concealed with a mask. As they dance around the new couple, it’s almost some sort of foreshadowing.

The children in the second act are technically all the children who were lost and never found in fairy tales. We inspired ourselves from multiple artists, such as the Brother’s Grimm, Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton.

Isn’t that just cool? That last part sort of reminds me of Peter Pan. And the second scene was apparently also based off of Dante’s Inferno (Which I later discovered was the video game version of the poem ‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante Aleghiery.) with the whole aspect of the 7 sins.

I saw a family perform on stage, and that family has talent. I encourage everyone to go follow them on twitter for updates on their next performances and as well as on Facebook and everywhere! (Circumfero- Facebook, @circumferocslr- twitter) I will totally try to make it to the next show, and more and more shows to come. You guys should too. It’s so worth it!

(The pictures are all of them in ‘Rabenlied’  There are captions on most of the pictures, check ’em out! 😉  ) 

IF YOU WERE PART OF THE PRODUCTION OR WENT TO SEE IT, COMMENT BELOW!!! 

Story:

The story followed a young soldier walking in the forest and getting lost, it showed the raven or crow chasing after him (with amazing sound effects), it was clear that he was in a manor, when the curtains opened and the stage setting was fantastical!

A violinist came to centre stage, and began playing a piece that sounded and looked very complicated. It was beautiful with the accompaniment of the pianist as well. During their duet, suddenly, more people came out from, under the build in stage, around, in the crowd, and placed themselves behind instruments.  There was a drummer, guitarists (electrical and acoustic I believe), three other violinists, a counter-bass, a one more pianist.

The song went from being traditionally classical, to full out rock, and it made one of my friends flinch, but in excitement. Singers came out of nowhere, in the crowd, behind the scene and they all started singing.

As Stephany had predicted, the Grim Reaper came back home, and the boy was freaked out. (All I remember from that song, was the ‘Hey Mr Grim Reaper’ part, that’s genius!)  She lead him away to discover the manor, practically dragging him off stage. Clowns then came in, and their act, somehow, fit perfectly.

I mean, what is a circus without clowns? And clowns at a sleepover, playing spin the bottle and getting caught by the police is funny. What made it funnier, the police just joined on on the fun and started drinking… (I’m scared to see that blond girl actually drunk after that performance) One of the clowns was turned into a Monkey, and the other into a Banana… and well…. It was like Tom and Jerry all over again.

There was a magic show, or, I guess, a ‘failed’ magic show, and a waltz. Oh the waltz! Such beautiful choreography! And the music was splendid and it just got you falling in love with the characters. They were falling in love with each other, while you were falling in love with them.

They almost kiss, but stop, and then clowns are called out to reveal that if those two share an intimate gesture such as lip locking, well, the boy would die. I think a priest was even involved at some point, that was hilarious! Great outfit too.

He hears a weird noise and tries to touch the creepy looking stage with dolls, but she stops him and tells him not to.

Death (the Grim reaper) leaves to go… reap. And another more ‘hip-hop’ like dance happens. But then there is the weird noise, and two of the singers hide the boy under the stage (with struggle) and in come two other characters.

As far as I was informed, those were Conquest and Famine, Death’s sisters. They push the singers out of the way and bring the boy out. That creepy noise (I think it was some deformed crying… it’s a morbid play, okay?) starts and the two girls look at each other and push Braise (the boy’s name, that means a dying flame… ember)  towards the stage that Death had specifically told him not to touch. Clearly, curiosity runs in all of us, and he ends up touching a doll… (I think everyone in the audience was anticipating what was to happen as well,) everything goes silent, until a doll… yes, A DOLL, pulls her hand out and grabs the boy dragging him to centre stage.

When you think dolls, you think kids. When you think creepy dolls, you think horror movie, dolls movie, doing weird stuff. The comedians doing this performance decided to go full out horrific (and I’m saying, disturbing, Anabelle disturbing) and make the dolls, contortionists. The music for that didn’t help the shivers either.

Directly after was a cheer leading act which was spectacular! The enthusiasm and the throws in the air… wow.

But then it just got… weird. A sort of ritual act with some sort of spell like voices and disoriented sounds all came into view. They all cowered around Braise, as if it were some actual ritual. The Grim Reaper comes in just as the curtains are about to close and tries to save him, but ends up screaming and …. well… the curtains just closed.

No, that’s not the end of the show. That was an intermission. The best part about the intermission, and the one worth mentioning, was the banana clown, eating a banana. It was cannibalism at it’s best. (Bananalism?)

Skipping the less then 10 minute break, it was black, and all you could hear was the crying, wailing, pleading of innocent and scared children. The curtains opened and there she was, Death, laying amongst a bunch of people all dressed in black, with blank white masks. They were crying, twitching… creeping in the crowd for the entire second act… The music was similar of that to a music box, and the harmonies were simply adorning. The stilts were scary. Impressive, very impressive, but scary.

There was a mad woman on stilts that screamed. And the first nation dance with the hoops! That was mind blowing and spectacular and I was confused half the time over how she could do all that, but it was amazing!

Basically, she couldn’t get through, there was a guard stopping Death from leaving. Later, a big man with a bandaged head and face (and creepy teeth) comes out and tries to  eat one of the lost kids. But the Grim Reaper stops him, and almost kills him, but he gives her a sucker and she takes it, but then gives it to a kids with a white mask, as the Big guy tries to put a white mask on her. She gets mad and pushes him down with her beautiful scythe and takes a cloth and shows it to the guard and he lets her through.

As this was happening, I  remembered Stephany telling us about them having to face the seven sins in order to get out, so it clicked, gluttony. I made it my ‘quest’ to identify each of the sins as the acts go by.

Then there was Braise who came from somewhere, and a girl with a top hat and a juggler. As he juggled, we applauded, as we applauded, MONEY STARTED TO FALL FROM THE SKY. The girl with the top hat tried collecting them all, greed. Braise said to keep going, and keep going we did, with the claps, and another cloth fell… huh. Show to guard, pass through. (My friend kept singing or humming to the song for this act, a while after the performance ended, so it was that catchy…. Just in May, a few month after the performance, I asked my friend what they were saying, since she knew a bit of French, apparently, they were saying “It’s not the end of the world… it is the end of the world” … this just gets better and better)

Clowns then came in out of nowhere, and oh my, the reggae music gave the whole calm and lazy vibe. The scadding was amazing and she had a powerful voice! The clowns were trying to clean up the money, but one clown wouldn’t get up, sloth. The Grim Reaper soon came out and found the cloth and showed the guard, and he let her through.

Now, to this point, neither Death nor Braise had seen each other since they got to this place. But here is where they do, when they finally see each other, it’s that cheesy romantic moment where the girl runs into the boys arms and he picks her up and spins. (It’s a… romantic horror?) They almost kiss again, but then stop, and veils come slithering down. Arial dancing done by the two sisters of Death. Another girl was circulating them, and both Death and Braise seemed in pure conflict with themselves. By the looks of it, they were deciding whether or not to love each other, and by the looks of the girl, who was gorgeously dressed, I would guess, lust.

The girl that played lust stayed, but then another came out… the attire was… revealing as you could say, but somehow stayed within boundaries. She danced, and she was “flirting” with Braise, (you could see all of the musicians practically ready to pounce on her and claw her, even one, was mimicking and mocking her, that made us all laugh honestly it was cute) At the end of her dance, she kissed Braise’s cheek, and he (finally) snaps out of his daze and rushes to the Grim Reaper, who rejects him… ahh… the famous act of jealousy.

He doesn’t let go of her though, proving a point to the dancer, and both her and the girl that was playing lust, left, but not before throwing the cloth. Death was already past the guard with Braise rushing to catch up with her.

Suddenly, all of the past six acts (including the crazy stilts woman, I think that’s anger “rage”) created a type of throne, and amongst the crowd, a man in feathered attire and a mask came to view, took of his mask, and sat down. (Let me just say, the makeup was positively realistic and it got me worried about the man’s face for a second) Everyone bowed, and he clapped his hands.

The guards around him were all dressed like high tech super ninjas, and that’s exactly what they were. The music gave it away too. The martial arts ranged from physical contact, to swords (machete I think) and ninja stars (yes!!)

And then, the Grim Reaper and Braise come storming in, she gets to fight with the ninja star girl and Braise gets held down. Death get’s ridden of her scythe as the king stands up, and goes to her, now his turn to be mocked, Braise has to endure seeing his love being touched by another man.

Basically, what the king was doing, was sniffing her hair, and teasing him like that, in a way as if to say “I can touch her, you can’t. I can have her, you can’t” (He is War, by the way, also I believe he is the Grim Reaper’s brother…. well then…)

Braise, infuriated steals a sword from one of the guards holding him down (I recognize it as a fencing swords since I used to fence when I was younger) and the music changes to once again, full out rock and adventure like and the tension was real. (pride,)

Up down, side and side, ouch, oh my god, no! wait, be careful! Yes! go!! no!!! omg!!

That’s literally what we (me and my friends) were all saying during the fight scene. The king rids the poor boy of his sword and is about to kill him, until the Grim Reaper delivers an ear piercing screech and stalks over to the king with her scythe and a very furious look on her face. The light goes dark and bells are heard (as well as Gregorian chants…. nice one) and when the lights come back on, the king falls to the ground, and dies.

In the audience’s head, we’re thinking “Yes! Finally!!” but what everyone else on stage is doing, is looking at her like she just committed the biggest crime ever. The music is so soft, and Braise runs to her, taking her hand, with that same hopeful smile as all of us, but she can’t go with him.

She shows him that she has to stay here, that she can’t leave. The flicker of hope leaves his face, the silks come down again and the aerial dancers start to dangle and twist and turn. The music, saddest thing I have ever heard, even when the rock instruments come in, I’m still crying. One girl began singing, (she had a beautifully serene voice) at the beginning, going between the two love struck characters with a gloomy look on her face. And as the drums come in, a different singer starts to sing, in a more opera like voice, taking the lead and the mood.

As the two aerials dangle, and the high, final note is sung, Braise does the one thing that got me, my two other friends and basically everyone sobbing. He does the one thing, you wouldn’t expect, but somehow knew was coming. He kisses her, and then falls, and slowly dies.

The ‘chair’ comes closer, grabs the Grim Reaper from her crying position on top of him, and force her to sit in the throne, while placing a new mask, a crown on her head. (I understood, you kill the king, you become the king)  And the curtains close.

The End.

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5 thoughts on “Rabenlied: When Falling in Love with Death is their goal

  1. Thank you for coming to our show, it was so fun to make it and took a lot of time and effort and I’m sure everyone from circumfero are glad you enjoyed our presentation:) ~death

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  2. Im so glad you enjoyed the show. Just rereading the story with all tour comments made my heart race again as if i was on stage. I hope the makeup didnt scare you too much.

    From: the king

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  3. As we prepare our upcoming show, KODA, I came back here to read the reaction. I love this story, the coincidence leading to a fantastic discovery. I really hope you’ll join us for a future production. We’ll make it worth the trip. We’ll have you sneak behind the scenes and witness the craziness 😉 I’ll keep coming back to this page, thank you so much for your interest.

    From: the hot teacher

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