Gasteig Sendling: Coffee on the Move
Video: A coffee date at a distance
Claudine from the IMAL theatre project: How the coffee date at a distance got started
Back in week two of the coronavirus lockdown, it was really strange to be sitting outside the IMAL building with just one other colleague. There would normally be 20 young artists here: loud music, animated conversations, joyful greetings with emotional hugs, an expectant atmosphere waiting to hear the news from us instructors. And we were sitting outside the building with our coffee during a break, watching the construction site, which was suddenly a kind of calming reality during those strange coronavirus times. How often had we been annoyed by the interminable pounding of the compressed air jackhammer, how often had I prayed for a crashing thunderstorm, so that the building would stop vibrating and we could hear ourselves think again! All that drilling, causing unimaginable disruption during teaching. And then? Then this construction site suddenly seemed soothing, so normal. Very strange! It was great how the crane operator was manoeuvring and setting down the racks and never-ending iron bars with pinpoint accuracy. So exact – how on earth could he do that? He was so high in the air, far above our heads.
»Look«, I said to my colleague »he can see us – come on, let’s wave«.
And the crane operator cheerfully waved right back at us! Then he shouted something that we couldn’t understand and I interpreted it: »He wants a coffee as well! Come on, I’ll make him one!« And I gave him a thumbs up, not quite sure if he could see it, and dashed off inside the building. »You’re absolutely mad«, my colleague said, »how on earth is THAT going to work then?«
Yes – how exactly? What will I put the coffee in? How will I get it up there? How high does it actually have to go? All questions that I had to find an answer to. An abandoned insulated thermos flask – a cotton shopping bag that was lying around. For once I thought it was actually helpful that the kids hadn’t tidied these things away. And off we went: travel mug of coffee in the shopping bag, outside and wave it in the air. What was going to happen next? The crane arm swung in our direction, the trolley with the long, heavy chain moved forward and then this chain with giant links very slowly lowered down in front of me! How exciting! I hooked the shopping bag onto the huge carabiner.
Thumbs up again and off it went. The bag with the coffee disappeared skywards. Then the crane operator climbed out of his cab, unhooked the bag – and cheerfully gave me a thumbs up!
The project gives young people the opportunity to spend two years doing artistic activities.
»See«, I nodded triumphantly at my colleague »it worked«!
»You’re still mad, nobody else in the whole world would hang coffee on a crane for the operator!«
»Yes, Claudine would, we are IMAL, where you can try anything and everything!«
Next day, we waved up at the crane again and the operator lowered the empty thermos down to us. And there was fresh coffee again! Three weeks later, we were having our break outside the building when a man came over to the fence. »Thank you for sending me coffee!« He introduced himself as Konstantin, from Romania, who’d been a crane operator for 20 years. He showed us photos on his mobile phone of his wife, his daughter at the ballet and his son. Eight seemingly endless weeks later, when the kids were allowed to come back again, one at a time, and had all watched the »Coffee for Konstantin« episode with great pleasure, the writers decided that their next piece would feature a crane operator called »Konsti« and the working title would be DIE BAUSTELLE (THE CONSTRUCTION SITE).
You can find out more about IMAL here: imal.de/darstellendekunstundmusik
You can find out more about Gasteig Sendling at: www.der-neue-gasteig.de/gasteig-sendling (in German language)
Interview/video: Benedikt Feiten