Oh to Believe in Another World


Oh To Believe in Another World  


Commissioned by the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Oh, to Believe in Another World is a film by William Kentridge designed to be presented as a dynamic visual counterpoint to Dimitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10. The music expresses the composer's personal triumph at having survived Stalin's dictatorship. The film illuminates, interrogates and honours it.

The film is set inside what appears to be an abandoned Soviet museum, which in fact is made of cardboard, on the table in the artist’s studio (at times there are fragments of the studio visible). Using a miniature camera, we move through the different halls of the museum, which also include a community theatre hall, a public swimming pool, a quarry at the side of the main halls of the museum. A corridor of vitrines holding stuffed historical figures.

The central characters of the film are Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin; Shostakovich and his student Elmira Nazirova (about which there are different theories regarding her relationship with Shostakovich and the 10th Symphony and whether her name is embedded into some of the key signatures of the symphony); Mayakovsky and his lover Lily Brik. These characters appear as puppets, but are also performed by actors inside of puppets. The form is one of collage, and the larger proposition is that one needs to understand history as a form of collage. The artistic medium is a way of thinking about the historical events.

The task of the project is to try to show within the visual film some of the ambiguities Shostakovich had to negotiate, not just in this symphony, but in all the work that he made. We have to find a way to both acknowledge the independence of the music - that it exists now in the post-Soviet era (we can still feel the emotional journey of the symphony, independent of its historical moorings); but at the same time acknowledge the particular character of the era from which it comes.



No results


  • 2023-12-02 00:00:00 2023-12-02 00:00:00 - Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna - Austria
  • 2023-11-18 00:00:00 2023-11-19 00:00:00 - Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong - Hong Kong
  • 2022-06-29 00:00:00 2022-06-30 00:00:00 - Teatro Grande Pompei, in the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Pompeii - Italy
  • 2022-06-15 00:00:00 2022-06-15 00:00:00 - KKL Luzern, Luzern - Switzerland


Director and Concept : William Kentridge

Costume & Puppet Design : Greta Goiris

Set Design : Sabine Theunissen

Video Editing : Žana Marović, Janus Fouché, Josh Trappler

Studio Technical Director : Chris-Waldo de Wet

Cinematography : Duško Marović

Costume Fabricators : Emmanuelle Erhart, Judith Stockart

Produced by THE OFFICE performing arts + Film  www.theofficearts.com

Toured in collaboration with Luzerner Sinfonieorchester

Represented by Quaternaire  www.quaternaire.org