Fish dance when they are not sleeping (Opera for the Deaf) is an immersive interdisciplinary opera performance based on a collaboration between two cultures or worlds, the ones who use voice and the ones who use gestures to communicate and create. It is a poetic, surreal vision of the underwater world of strange fish-like creatures encountering a group of humanoid travellers from the future. The meeting of strangers takes place between the unreal world of a dream, with blurred, bended forms, eluding reason and logic, and the hyper-realist raw rationalist world.

This performance is partly an attempt to understand the frustration of Deaf people resulting from their misunderstanding by hearing people, and partly the creation of a space in which both these worlds and types of perception as well as methods of communication intertwine and influence each other. Part of the libretto is created by Ilse Jobse, a Dutch Deaf poet, singer and actress. New technologies (motion sensors, sound and light sensors programmed for “audiovisual translation”, sound and video processing) as well as vibrations, rhythms and choreography – all contribute to an entirely new and unique artistic language.

The premiere of Fish dance when they are not sleeping (Opera for the Deaf) is planned for the first half of 2025.

Read more about the project on the website of Futurists.

Dutch National Opera
ENOA (European Network of Opera Academies)
Innovation: Lab / Theater Utrecht

Artistic direction – Jerzy Bielski and Thomas Brand
Concept, composition, stage directing, libretto – Jerzy Bielski
Dramaturgy, video, visuals, light design – Thomas Brand
Choreography, dramaturgy – Sandra Abouav
Audio programming, live electronics – Tatiana Rosa
Libretto – Ilse Jobse, Deaf singer
Deaf actor – Ali Shafiee
Deaf dancer – Dennis Massar
Deaf dancer – Sharon Wesseling
Deaf dancer – Pawel Moleda
Voice (soprano) – Olga Siemienczuk
Paetzold recorder – Juho Myllylä
Cello – Pau Sola Masafrets
Photos – Thomas Brand, Kim Krijnen

Supported by:
Cultuurloket DigitALL, De Nationale Opera, ENOA