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Piece for ensemble, audio playback and video

or a soundtrack to an original fake documentary about birds, migrations and escapism

Sway, go on, move. That’s the only way to get away from him. He who rules the world has no power over movement and knows that our body in motion is holy, and only then can you escape him, once you’ve taken off. He reigns over all that is still and frozen, everything that’s passive and inert.

So go, sway, walk, run, take flight, because the second you forget and stand still his massive hands will seize you and turn you into just a puppet, you’ll be enveloped in his breath, stinking of smoke and fumes and the big rubbish dumps outside town. […] Flee, get out of your homes, go, run away, for only thus will you avoid the traps of the Antichrist. Any open battle with him will be lost outright. Leave whatever you possess, give up your land and get on the road. […] Get out of here, go far away, beyond the reach of his breath, beyond his cables and wires and antennas and waves, resist the measurements of his sensitive instruments. […] Move. Get going. Blessed is he who leaves.

Excerpt from the book Flights by Tokarczuk Olga

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Birdsongs was commisioned by and written for Spółdzielnia Muzyczna ensemble. The piece has its premiere during Darmstadt Ferienkurse 2023.

Music and concept - Rafał Ryterski

Video - Aga Błaszczak and Rafał Ryterski

Voice - Oskar Stoczyński, Jaśmina Polak, Monika Łopuszyńska, Michael Hope​

Actors - Malwina Łejt, Rafał Ryterski

If there's something birds have mastered to perfection, it is adaptation. Lack of constancy. Since the beginning of their existence, they have been encoded with the understanding that every spring, life flourishes anew, and they must adapt to it. 

Excerpt from Scene 10 of Birdsongs


Birdsongs (subtitled: motion picture soundtrack for a TV documentary) is a stage piece with a duration of approximately 30 minutes for 8 performers, electronics performed partly live and partly from audio playback, and video. The piece is inspired by bird migrations, which are treated here as a metaphor for adaptation and necessary changes in human life, both in the individual context and in the context of the entire civilization. There were few inspirational anchors, like Flights (Bieguni) by Olga Tokarczuk, When the body says no by Gabor Mate, Nightjar by Cosmo Sheldrake and a beautiful documentary The Secret Routes of Birds Migration.

The form of this work is a hybrid - it mixes theatre with documentary, new music with drum machines and sequenced synthesisers, darkness with humour, philosophy with science-fiction. That is why Birdsongs is reminiscing a radio show, or a performative lecture.

Over the past century, the global population has surged, leading to significant expansion in the development of once-wild areas and an increase in average human lifespan. However, the consequences of these changes are evident in the collapse of ecosystems, which poses a threat to our very existence.

Despite its tranquil appearance, nature provides valuable lessons. We are not detached from the ecosystem; even minor fluctuations in the population of certain species can disrupt the delicate balance of nature. For instance, city-dwelling rooks, which are omnivorous and adaptable, can alter their diet as needed. Migration, a complex behavior exhibited by birds, involves covering vast distances for survival. Birds accumulate fat or even reduce the size of their organs to facilitate these journeys. Their concept of home is temporary, emphasizing the constant change necessary for balance and homeostasis.

So, what must humanity and individuals do? I believe the answer lies in cultivating empathy as a civilization. Through empathy, we become more attuned to the world around us on both micro and macro scales. We must regain an understanding that we are integral parts of an immensely complex system that ensures our survival and facilitates progress. Developing awareness of our comprehensive existence within the contexts of our bodies, society, and various ecosystems allows us to initiate healing. However, this requires change—mental migration, deconstruction of beliefs, and adaptation. Fortunately, the capability for adaptation is ingrained in our genes, shared with all the animals on the planet that we share.

Zrzut ekranu 2024-01-23 o 21.19_edited.jpg
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