A photograph of an unknown woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to her mother was the starting point for Georgina Starr's THEDA. The woman, silent film actress Theda Bara (1885-1955), had made over 40 films in her brief career, now all but two are lost or destroyed. With her mother and the silent actress in mind Starr began a year of performing alone in her studio. Building sets, creating props and costumes and acting out the expressions, roles and actions from the imagined lost films. THEDA reveals a disintegration of identity and “through her playful and tender homage the silent goddesses speak again”.
For each screening of THEDA musicians are invited by Starr to accompany the film and play live in the cinema space. The cinema venues are chosen to suit the spirit of the film. The first performance of THEDA was held at The Prince Charles, an old-style cinema in London's West End. On this occasion THEDA was accompanied by a 17 piece improvising orchestra to a sold-out 500 seat cinema crowd. Since 2007 the film has been screened in London, New York, Toronto, Liverpool, Genova, Stockholm, Berlin, Palermo & Glasgow. At a recent performance, inside an original end-of-pier theatre in the seaside town of Bournemouth (The Pier Theatre), the soundtrack was performed by the well-known German musician and soprano Sigune von Osten, who composed a special arrangement for voice and zheng.
THEDA premiere at The Prince Charles, London cinema programme • 2006
Live performance with Sigune von Osten • 2011
Interview with Starr about THEDA in Berlin • 2010
Documentary on THEDA at The Pier Theatre, Bournemouth • 2011
Blogger description of the THEDA premiere event in 2006