Hôtel de Rive –
Giacometti’s horizontal time

A German, French and Swiss collaboration of figuren theater tübingen (D), Compagnie Bagages de Sable (F), Pedretti & Morgenthaler (CH)


The production is based on four surrealist texts by Alberto Giacometti: “Yesterday, quicksand”, “A blind man reaches out his hand in the night”, “Paris without an end”, and “The dream, the sphinx and the death of T.”

Inspired by Giacometti’s sculptures, drawings and texts, the performance creates a visual poem of its own. His work is the starting point and a trail leads to a new location. An invisible place appears where visual and performing arts unite with literature. An approach in spoken and written words,  drawn and danced lines, figures, sounds and plaster castings,  shells and stones.

“Am I mistaken? This is possible.” (Alberto Giacometti, diary note)

“…at the beginning of my schooldays the first country I imagined to be wonderful, was Siberia. I saw myself there, in the middle of endless lowlands covered with grey snow. There was never sunshine and it stayed equally cold. On one side, quite far away, a fir forest, a dreary, dark forest, bordered the broad lowlands. I looked out at this lowland and this forest through the little window…
P.S. 1958. As I reread the last paragraph I realized, that with my imagination of Siberia I described exactly where I was standing and where I was living at that time.”
From “Yesterday, quicksand”, 1933/58

From 1942 until 1945, Giacometti stayed in Geneva. During World War II, the city was a refuge for many artists and writers from Paris, which allowed for intellectual exchange. Giacometti belonged to the regular circle of Albert Skira, the editor of the magazine Labyrinthe, and he contributed three visionary articles. In Geneva he also met his future wife, Annette. His stay coincided with a difficult phase of his artistic career and a fundamental creative crisis. He stayed in a modest room in the Hôtel de Rive, which he also used as his studio. For days on end, he tried to make sculptures, without managing more than tiny, miniature figures. According to Skira, Giacometti’s Geneva works fitted into half a dozen matchboxes, which he carried in his pockets when returning to Paris after the war.

Premiere September 2011

Made possible in part by: FITZ! Figurentheaterzentrum, franz.K Reutlingen, LafT B-W, Robert-Bosch-Stiftung, Popkredit Zürich, Ministère de la Culture – DRAC Haute-Normandie, Région Haute-Normandie, Département de Seine-Maritime.

press reviews

An ingenious Gesamtkunstwerk with exciting music.”

Stuttgarter Zeitung, 4.12.2011

 “Grotesque, elegant, unnerving, unexpectedly humorous: Hotel de Rive is a profound – and superbly performed – excursion into the turmoil of making art, and then opening up that journey to an audience.”

The Herald, Edinburgh, 10.02.2014

 “But what this production managed to convey was more complex and personal than labels and categories will allow. Amidst all the angst and alienation and lack of reason, they made the originality of Giacometti’s work, and the sense of his self-consciously reflective and life-affirming creativity, recognisable and glorious.”

Edinburgh Guide, 06.02.2014

Mysterious and fascinating.”

Reutlinger Generalanzeiger, 21.11.2011

Dans Hôtel de Rive, les minuscules marionnettes squelettiques évoquent bien entendu les sculptures de Giacometti. Elles représentent les pensées de l’artiste, ses rêves, ses fantasmes et ses fantômes, se servant du visage du comédien (Patrick Michaëlis), «monolithe d’une couleur dorée», comme d’un terrain de jeu. Composant un duo des plus efficaces – on pourrait même parler de pas de deux chorégraphié tant la manipulation est précise – la figuration du dialogue entre le créateur et son œuvre est une vraie réussite. Filmées en direct par une caméra, les images projetées sur l’écran en fond de scène composent des tableaux oniriques et sensuels. Soehnle a privilégié l’approche surréaliste pour tracer le portrait du sculpteur. Ainsi, dans ce long poème théâtral, point de récit ni de biographie, mais une vision de l’intérieur, intime et puissante, morcelée et énigmatique, de l’âme de l’artiste. Dans La mort de T, la description crue de la mort à l’œuvre, la confrontation avec le cadavre renvoient Giacometti à sa propre finitude, à ses angoisses exacerbées par le cancer de l’estomac dont il souffrait. Cette réflexion sur la mort qui envahit l’espace du vivant ne pouvait qu’inspirer le marionnettiste qui, lui, par la grâce de la manipulation, donne vie à des créatures sorties de son imaginaire.”

JEU Revue de théâtre, Montréal, 07.03.2014


Performer and puppets Frank Soehnle
Actor Patrick Michaelis
Live music Jean-Jaques Pedretti
  Robert Morgenthaler
Set design and coatumes Sabine Ebner
Artistic cooperation Enno Podehl
Sound and lighting design Christian Glötzner
Assistant Irene Lentini
Documentation: Claude-Alice Peyrottes
Photos Julia Pogerth

technical staging specifications



  • Stage requirements including wings: 7 m x 7 m
  • Stage area height at least 3.80 m
  • 3 platforms : 1 m by 2 m, height 60 cm
  • 2 platforms : 1 m by 1 m, height 60 cm
  • Tiered seating for the audience, with 30 cm height difference between rows to allow for visibility of the stage floor
  • Total darkness essential
  • A minimum distance of 1.5 m from edge of stage to 1st row of seating
  • A gridiron, or several possibilities for securing objects to the ceiling above the stage area (see stage plan)


We need the promoter/management to provide the following:

A complete lighting system

  • 9 x 1 KW profilers / 2 PAR / 6 x 1 KW PCs
  • A 20-channel lighting control desk + 10 extension cables for our own light sources
  • 2 floor sockets on the right side and 2 floor sockets on the left side of the stage
  • Sound equipment for CD player
  • Stage assistants to help with assembly and dismantling of stage set
  • Dressing room facilities with sink to accommodate 4 people
  • A vacuum cleaner and a ladder


During the performance, three matches will be burnt and one cigarette will be smoked. Please check all smoke detectors and set accordingly


  • Length of performance: 60 minutes
  • Set preparation time: 6 hours / Set dismantling time: 1 hour

Essential – please take note!

  • It must be possible to darken the stage area completely (blackout)
  • Level access to the stage is necessary for equipment/baggage on wheels
  • Maximum audience capacity: 150 persons
  • The stage floor must be visible to every member of the audience
  • The performance is suitable for youths and adults (no children under 12)

Your contact for technical questions:
Christian Glötzner, +49 176 7129 7676