An Evening of Calder and Kentridge

Work in Progress + Waiting for the Sibyl

Alexander Calder’s ‘Work in Progress’, was the artist’s avant-garde theatrical production that premiered in Rome in 1968. Conceived as an abstract “ballet,” the ambitious commission featured hanging and standing mobiles, stabiles, and huge backdrops painted in gouache and some cyclists riding around the stage all delivered in short vignettes with electronic music by Niccolò Castiglione, Aldo Clementi, and Bruno Maderna. 50 years after its first performance, Opera di Roma is reviving the Calder work. Waiting for the Sibyl by William Kentridge, will be a companion piece and response to ‘Work in Progress’. They will tour together as an evening length piece.

There is the story of the Cumean Sibyl, a prophetess. She would write people's fortunes or fates on oak leaves. The pile of oak leaves sat at the mouth of her cave. People would come to take the leaf on which was written their fate. But inevitably a wind would come up and swirl the leaves out of order, so one never knew if the leaf you had picked was your fate or not. The circling of the leaves in the wind becomes akin to the revolving leaves of the sculptures in the Calder.

Waiting for the Sibyl is a new 35 minute piece for three dancers and six singers with a recorded score by one of South Africa’s leading progressive pianists, the composer Kyle Shepard and the unique choral arrangements of Nhlanhla Mahlangu providing the soundtrack. It uses projection, live performance and shadows cast by performers to tell a story or pose a question. There are a series of 8 short scenes, interrupted and revealed by the dropping and raising of the front curtain. Some of the projections are close to the Calder, in other words we see revolving objects and their shadows. These are projections of sculptures which are coherent for an instant, then shattered into constituent unrecognisable elements. Kentridge’s original drawings are animations that provide a backdrop for the shadow of a live performer to play upon. There are no spoken words. The text or argument is revealed in sentences, phrases, riddles…both on screen and in shadow.


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  • 2019-09-10 00:00:00 2019-09-15 00:00:00 - Teatro Dell'Opera Di Roma (Teatro Costanzi), Roma - Italy


Duration:  2 Acts of 35 minutes each with a 20 minute interval.  2 shows possible each day.


Creative  Team


William Kentridge   Concept and Director

Kyle Shepherd Music Director / Composer

Nhlanhla Mahlangu Associate Director / Choral Composer

Greta Goirus Costume Designer

Sabine Theunissen Set Designer

Urs Schönebaum Lighting Design

Žana Marović Projection Design

Stella Olivier Photography


Waiting for the Sybil is co-commissioned by Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and Dramaten - Stockholm.