John Bock – Malträtierte Fregatte
September 2006 | Magazin der Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin

Photo: Jan Windszus

John Bock’s final large-scale performative work Malträtierte Fregatte (Maltreated Frigate), a spectacle in ten scenes, oscillates between the rock opera and the theater of the absurd, and between animated sculpture and puppet show. It endeavors to come to terms with the iconic narrative of human suffering and struggling, the theme of the “human condition.” The story – inspired by the infamous catastrophic shipwreck of the French ship Medusa on July 2, 1816 off the west coast of Africa – is told by using poetic-absurd subjectivism and creating a concisely assembled and carefully rehearsed act of force, incorporating live music, video feedback, and a prosthetic costume show. However, it is the Bockesque language that is the principal means of evocation, barbed with rhetorical strategies and full of insider jokes, turning nonsense into piercingly bizarre, passionate, insane, and often incomprehensible expressions. 
The spectacular center of the action – the raft of the Medusa – is a converted police van, suspended from the rafters of the Magazin's atrium. The threads of the plot, however, are separated into live video projections and actions that complement each other but also take place on split-level platforms: the van, the catacombs, the giant video screen and the music stage, featuring the rock band Blackmail and members of the Staatskapelle Berlin. The audience stands in the surrounding galleries, where they can follow the action and the protagonists from three different levels: the small Medusa-crew is made up of the captain, Thomas Loibl, and his first mate, Anne Tismer (both renowned actors), and, as a factotum, the ship’s cook—John Bock himself — who fight “catastrophe” with their united powers in a real tour de force. In the end: “The capt’n and his mate are sucked through he para-whirl into the depths of the catacombs of a dying one. They plunge into the sanatorium. The body accelerator licks plague. A patient is hooked up to the body accelerator to stay on course. Artaud is saved. Keep going, to the cadaver pile in the office. Capt’n sets down the golden balance straight line. Further on, the mate sets down dead elasticity in the hemp rope of the Medusa. Then, a dandy defines the pre-ego in six rules. Then, in the engine room the cadre shaft runs out of bounce, thick-cylinder bloats danger of explosion. Rescue in sight. Drive the animalistic generator. Happy End. The capt’n, mate, and wild boar under the main stage listen to the opera.”
John Bock: Malträtierte Fregatte / Maltreated Frigate
Edited by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln
208 pages, German/English 
ISBN: 978-3-86560-252-7
With contributions by John Bock, Andreas Schlaegel, Catherine Wood, and Daniela Zyman
Design by John Bock, Alexander Schmidt & Nora-Charlotte Tomm
September 14–17 & 30, 2006
Commissioned by
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, and Staatsoper unter den Linden, Berlin
Funded by
German Federal Cultural Foundation
Concept, Idea, Director: John Bock
Cast: Thomas Loibl, Uta Priew, Anne Tismer, John Bock
Music: Blackmail, Aydo Abay, Carlos Ebelh.user, Kurt Ebelh.user, Mario Matthias, Marcel
von der Weiden, Members of the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Orchestra, Academy of the
Staatskapelle Berlin, David Delgado, Katharina Pick, Antonina Shvyduk, Hee-Jen Ahn, Axel
Artistic Production Management: J.rn Weisbrodt
Musical Arrangement: Henning Stoll; Camera: Andreas Deinert, David Schultz, Jan Speckenbach
Editing: Benjamin Quabeck; Light: Sven Hogrefe
Sound: Thilo Klag (Blackmail), Albrecht Krieger, Martin Kautzsch, Silvia Schmidt
Dramaturgical Counsel: Andr.s Siebold
Extras: Tomo Arikawa, Benjamin Blumeier, David Bock, Laurens Hornemann, Elisa Kulinna,
Ernst-Ingo Künkel, Valentin Olbrich, Alina Niborski, Leonard Petersen, Rita Seyfert, Isabella
Art Assistant to John Bock: Adrian Lohmüller
Line Producer, Production management: Peggy Kuwan
Production management: Lotte M.ller, Nina Russi
Photographer: Jan Windszus, Renato Tonini
Magazin der Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin