Andromeda – a text about a virus and a young woman chained to a cliff by the sea.

After one dramatic year of the Covid-19 pandemic in lock down in France I needed to write something. I needed to articulate a certain despair, anger or desperation in a script for a performance. I was certain this script had to be poetic, and I had to use the reference of Greek tragedies. I found “Andromeda” by Euripides. A tragedy that exists only as fragments. It was the opening image of Euripides’ tragedy that inspired me: a young virgin chained to a cliff by the sea. This image became the starting point of a poetic journey through the different emotions of this troublesome time, mixing references from several ancient tragedies and the present pandemic. My contemporary text ends as a real tragedy: A colossal poisonous squid sucks the young woman into the depths of the see.

The formal and poetical text consists of 21 sections. It could be performed as a monologue, but in my performance, I used 18 actors. Several physical actions accompanied by baroque and contemporary electronical music with expressionist light design express the drama of the script. The text as such is communicated as pure text without psychological interpretation.



I Andromeda chained to this cliff

As a sacrifice to Poseidon, the god of the sea

My father king Cepheus chose to sacrifice his own daughter

In order to appease the raging black sea

Many are the fathers who are willing to sacrifice their daughters

In one way or another

You see us portrayed as beautiful untouched virgins

Skin the colour of porcelain

We lower our eyes and submit without rebellion

To our fates as sacrificial offerings

Long hair and a transparent silk shawl wavers in the wind

To suggest a titillating sensuality

That interestingly doesn’t come from the victim herself

But from the wind

Somewhere very near a wet excited monster awaits ready to tear us apart

Bite off our heads devour us

In my case we’re talking about a beast from the depths of the sea

Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni also called colossal octopus

It is 14 meter long and has the largest eyes of all living species

A so-called invertebrate animal but don’t be fooled

The long tentacles have both suction cups and barbs

So that the victim can never escape


The monster is on its way up from the depths of the sea



We that are chained up as sacrifices

To cliffs prison walls chairs radiators marriage beds

Are not only deprived of our dignity, whatever that means

We are also deprived of our possibility to affect our destiny

Our destinies are sealed by others

Fathers warlords priests husbands lovers psychopaths

Men with inferiority complexes or other malfunctions

Men on amphetamine

It is however a myth that we lower our eyes

And succumb to our destiny

In the same way that the hair waving in the wind is a myth

And the almost transparent silk shawl that barely hides the flesh

The victim is never beautiful

Despair has no aesthetic element

And the cry of pain has no musical quality

Hyperventilation provoked by anxiety can be said to have a certain rhythm

But so has a machine gun

Spitting bullets

At a victim in flight


Andromeda is waiting

The chained one can do nothing but wait

The chained one is cursed not to act not to take any initiative

A curse in itself

Standstill while waiting for pain humiliation death

While waiting for the slimy excited monster to rise up from the sea

With its poisonous tentacles and pointy shiny fangs

Watching us with the largest eyes of all living species before it attacks

In the apparent standstill

In the waiting room at the dentist’s office in front of us on a distant too low table

Old grease-stained magazines with stupefying content

The air bitter with the smell of disinfectants

The silence only broken by the sound of a dental drill penetrating a human body

Through the enamel and into the aching bone

Another victim in a chair you may think

A voluntary victim who met the pain and the humiliation with dignity

In the same way as Andromeda and all the other human sacrifices

Met their fate with dignity

Where the hell does this dignity come from?

And what does the word dignity mean?

When your own father gives you up as a sacrifice to the sea


King Oedipus despairs as the people of Thebes die from the plague

He sends a messenger to the Oracle in Delphi

In order to understand the reason for the plague

And what he can do in order to stop its lethal force

He doesn’t know that he himself is the reason for the plague

And that the plague will disappear when he stabs his own eyes out and leaves Thebes

To wander on dusty roads forever as a blind beggar

His own eyes

As a sacrifice to the plague

Thus, we can also sacrifice ourselves, or parts of ourselves

Eyes hands or independence creativity happiness

The human being is in fact a willing victim

And many are those who willingly take on the role as a victim rather than fight

Against monsters from the depth of the sea

How can we fight against terrifying slimy monsters?

How can we fight against toxic tentacles and pointed shiny fangs?


Rather let someone chain us up

To cliffs altars prison walls chairs radiators marriage beds

Let someone else be responsible for the tragedy

So, we may suffer in dignity while we await the monsters’ tentacles

And death


Andromeda is waiting

Chained to this cliff by the dark sea

While the plague is ravaging Thebes

Because Andromeda is alone and isolated from all others on this cliff

She is perhaps the only one who survives the plague

She is perhaps the only one not being influenced by the virus floating in the wind

Floating lightly unforced in the wind like a transparent shawl

Wrapped around a virgin’s hips

Invisible tiny viral particles dancing through the air over Thebes

From a sick old woman’s coughing mouth to a crying young man’s eyes

From a hand caressing a child’s curly hair

From a kiss from a humid door handle

Andromeda survives a virus

In order to be devoured by an invertebrate animal

Sometimes you really have to ask what it’s all for

Shall Andromeda’s isolation on this damned cliff

Save her life?

Two months confined in a one-room apartment in Italian Bergamo

View to an abandoned slaughterhouse

Outside the window

Forty military trucks transport sealed bags with dead bodies to a cold storage room

In anticipation of cremation

In anticipation of king Oedipus finally stabbing out his eyes and fleeing Thebes


Why should I end up in this situation?

Why should I, and my youth be deprived of my freedom?

Why should an invisible enemy restrict my life?

Is the enemy the monster below in the dark sea?

Or is the enemy the tiny invisible particles in the air?

Or does it really matter if the enemy has salacious tentacles or not?

Perhaps it is just a question of dimensions of scale of quantity?

The Chernobyl reactor exploded in the night of the 26th of April 1986

Hundreds of people gathered on a bridge in the nearby city of Pripyat

They were admiring the beautiful light from the fire

And it was quite spectacular the light

Like a vibrating sunset over the dense Ukrainian coniferous forest 

At times it resembled dancing northern lights only with a warmer glow

But it wasn’t the visible yellow light that killed all the people on the bridge


Death didn’t breathe fire like the dragon

Who in his time guarded the city gate of Thebes

Oedipus conquered that dragon and became king of Thebes

Before this damned plague descended and he stabbed out his own eyes and fled

The people on the bridge in Pripyat died

Like the people in Thebe

Like the people in the sealed body-bags in Bergamo

Of something lethal we cannot even see 


In a way there is something natural about being eaten by a colossal octopus

It is the order of the nature to eat and to be eaten

It is perhaps not completely natural for a human being to be

On the dinner plate of an octopus

But it is not totally unnatural to be eaten

By someone that is so much bigger than you

Andromeda looked down into the depth in front of her

She saw something moving down there under the surface of the cold water

In a way it is easier to relate to the idea of a quick death

In the mouth of a monster, you can see

Then a slow and equally painful death as the victim of something apparently insignificant

That you cannot see

There is something obscure and almost tragicomic in the act of touching an infected door handle

Of a coffee shop

Rubbing one’s eyes afterwards

And therefore, becoming ill and die

It is not quite up to the standard of what one might expect from life

Or death

The eyes of the Colossal Octopus have a diameter of 27 centimetres

It can see its pray from an extremely long distance in the cold dark water

The Colossal Octopus consists in addition to its eyes mainly of muscles and suction cups

And its poisonous tentacles have as already mentioned hooks

When it attacks you, it is at least a clear-cut situation


Studying classical literature and visual art

One can easily think that men must have a fascination for beautiful naked virgins

Presented as sacrificial gifts to ferocious monsters

I would rather avoid a psychoanalytical perspective on this phenomenon

I don’t want to know what Freud thought this might signify regarding man’s nature

Fortunately, there are examples of young boys

Also being placed on the altar by their fathers or priests with knives in their hands

The Inca priests cut up the thorax of young men and pulled out their hearts

The heart should still be beating in the bloody hands of the priest before the victim died

And then the awaited rain came, and the harvest was saved

And fortunately for all men a woman named Medea sacrificed her own two boys with a knife

As revenge

But regarding one thing they were all wrong the writers the painters the sculptors

The victims are not beautiful

If you are chained up in front of the monster

To cliffs alters prison walls radiators marriage beds

Then immediately an aesthetic decomposition process starts

The eyes lose their radiance the skin dries crack up

The body’s surface is filled with eczema liquid-filled abscesses and itching blisters

The hair dries and falls off in tufts

Death begins its decomposition from the outside

Long before the monster’s teeth and poisonous tentacles have slashed into you


The state of degradation has lasted for a long time now

We will never return to the innocent condition before the plague

We will never embrace a person with the same ease

We will never kiss a person without a hint of anxiety

We will always be worried if someone coughs in our proximity

We the people of Thebes put our trust in the oracle in Delphi and you king Oedipus

You that in your time fought the fire-breathing dragon

Look at us Oedipus see our sore skin see our dry hair

Death paints its grey and gloomy stamp on the surfaces of the bodies

Not because we suffer from a distinct disease


The symptoms are stress-related

We look ill because deep inside we know that soon we will become sick and die

We have lost the joy that presupposes a certain lightness of being

In the same way as Andromeda

Who technically could have said

That she is only sunbathing on a lovely cliff by the azure-blue Aegean Sea

Before the plague people paid lots of money to go there on holiday

A boat sails slowly past Andromeda with sunburned Scandinavian tourists

They are looking forward to eating tzatziki and grilled octopus in a nearby village

They are waving

But Andromeda’s heart beats faster she pulls on the chains and gasps for air

She seems to see the monster’s tentacles on their way up from the depths                   


Can fear of death


Can the fear of a catastrophe activate the catastrophe itself?


Fear of death makes the body secrete a biochemical stress hormone

Called adrenaline

The function of the stress hormone is to liberate the last energy reserves of the body

As preparation for escape or deadly fight

But have you ever wondered why aggressive dogs seem to bark and growl more

At the very people who are afraid of dogs?

They can smell the adrenaline they can simply smell that you are afraid

And so, they define you as pray and they define you as food

The fear of getting bitten causes you to be bitten

Deep down under the surface of the sea a 14-meter-long sea monster moves

Andromeda’s fear and anxiety seep out as invisible particles from her body

The particles dance and evaporate in the air

Smaller than pollen smaller than dust minuscule biochemical stress hormones

Totally invisible and smaller than plankton they sink slowly into the water

The anxiety particles spread around Andromeda just as undetected as a virus

And deep down in the dark

Down in the slimy turbidity at the bottom deep under the azure blue surface

Deep down there a colossal octopus with gigantic eyes begins

To sense

That a warm-blooded mammal is available on today’s menu card


The sailboat with the sunburned Scandinavian tourists

Cruises slowly past Andromeda

With binoculars the men watch the young woman standing at the end of the cliff

It looks like she is waving at them

How beautiful she is, they think but they don’t say it out loud

How beautiful it is here one of the ladies is saying loudly the light is stunning

And the azure-blue water shines like silver in the sun

How magnificent life can be sometimes she says quietly to herself

They all look at her and smile

Sailing further away from Andromeda around the cliff towards the village

Where they will eat tzatziki and grilled squid

But there, on the large island behind the cliff

The tourists could have seen it if they had only looked closer

Thirteen hundred white tents

Thousands of desperate people

Victims of a civil war

With memories filled with indescribable horrors cruel images of boundless violence

Sick children and tired grown ups without a future

Andromeda on the cliff is a sacrifice to the god of the sea Poseidon

The people in the tents are just victims

It is difficult to say of what god of which society of which ideology

Or of which plague

Or what kind of virus, that is to blame for it all


A catastrophe is something that happens far away

Or in another era

If something inappropriate or unforeseen should happen here to us now

We can only speak of something unfortunate or in worst case of bad luck

It is interesting that these two words contain the terms fortune and luck

Those annoying episodes are only something that limit our luck and our fortune

A little bit

It is a good thing that our language thereby gives us a certain assurance that

Everything is just fine

And that fortune and luck are basic elements in our lives

It isn’t like that in all languages, and it isn’t like that all over the world

Some places catastrophes in one form or another is a daily phenomenon

People there are more exposed to the cruel and the evil

Which are integral ingredients of our planet

So, what happens when something that actually is a catastrophe occurs?

And spreads all over the world

Also, to us

First is happened far away and had something to do with a bat

So, we reckoned that this wouldn’t concern us

Or only marginally we are used to sending aid to all kinds of lousy places

But even after we have also become victims and people are dying

It is as if we don’t really understand that we are just as vulnerable

As all other victims

In a catastrophe


The plague was raging in Thebes

It was a true catastrophe and people died like flies

But Thebes` population wasn’t without well-established procedures in such a situation


A representative was sent to the oracle in Delphi

They got an answer from the oracle acted accordingly and the plague disappeared

At all times

People in emergencies have listened to oracles, priests, witches and wizards

At all times

People have sacrificed virgins or young men or flowers or food or gold

To appease the gods and prevent the horrible

A clear answer and a clear action always create assurance

Even if it is totally wrong

Sacrificing something you love always feels like a strong and convincing action

For Andromeda’s father king Cepheus, it was horrible to sacrifice his own daughter

But the action was so groundbreaking and brutal that it had to have an effect

On the wild deep sea that had devoured so many of his soldiers

Either the wind stopped, and the sea calmed after the oblation had been eaten

Or if not, it was a clear sign that the oblation hadn’t been significant enough

The sea god Poseidon demanded hundred virgins and that is also a clear answer

The immense despair the desperation


When there are no answers


A series of unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings

Had led the young king Oedipus of Thebes

To killing his father, king Laius

And marrying his mother queen Jokaste

Anyone can understand that a state having such a king would invoke the wrath of the gods

The plague was a considerable and clear punishment for the king’s actions

And when Oedipus stabbed out his eyes and left Thebes

After queen Jokaste had hanged herself in her own bedroom

Yes, then the plague disappeared just as suddenly as it had occurred

For human beings such a clear relationship between cause and effect is reassuring

It is basically rational for the human being

That there is an immoral reason for a catastrophe like the plague in Thebes

Such as the king has married his mother

Or chopped down the rainforest

Or done bad maintenance at the nuclear power plant

Or contaminated the soil with toxins

Or started a war

Or developed biological weapons

What is terribly difficult for the human being to accept

And what is almost worse than the plague worse than the catastrophe

Is when there is no rational reason for the catastrophe to happen

There is no one to blame

There are no gods to complain to

No one

To whom one can sacrifice a virgin


I Andromeda listen to the voice of the sea

While the sun sets over the horizon

While the sun god’s warmth is gradually replaced by the sea god’s humid cold

My body is shivering

I don’t know for certain if my body is shivering from cold or from fear

But the white foam from the waves starts licking my ankles

And I don’t think it is the wind that makes the surface of the sea foam

There is nothing in the air that brings the sea into turmoil


There is something in the sea itself

Something down in the depths

It has been said that I Andromeda talked with my own echo

But an endless ocean surface has no echo

Poseidon the god of the sea has his own voice

The ocean has its own agenda its own will its own force

And it is a violent prehistoric force

That contains so many atrocities so many monsters so many beasts

There, under the surface

There, in the cold darkness under the shiny azure-blue surface

Deep down under the waves

Under the white sailboat that slowly passes me over the turbulent waves

Is death itself

And it is the people in this white sailboat that are going to take Andromeda’s soul

Down to Hades down to hell


Tiny invisible particles float in the wind

They are like microscopic butterflies

Searching for a tasty colourful flower

Finally, they land on a door handle

Shining like silver in the strong sunlight

And they can live there for a long time the cold metal is good to rest on

But then a hand touches the elegant door handle and opens the door

A delightful fragrance of freshly brewed coffee fills the air

The hand moves up towards the young man’s face and removes the sun glasses

And wipes away a tear from the left eye

A tear of happiness

He is in love

And he is now going to meet his beautiful girlfriend

Andromeda wasn’t to meet a handsome boyfriend


She was to meet a 14-meter-long monster with poisonous tentacles and suction cups

But the result was almost the same

Or to be quite precise

It wasn’t the young man’s beautiful girlfriend that was going to eat him alive

Suck out his life force kill him pull him down to the bottom of the sea


His girlfriend wasn’t a terrible killing machine like the colossal octopus


His girlfriend also got ill but not as ill as the young man

He died

And ended up in a sealed plastic bag on a military truck in Bergamo

On the way to the cold storage room in an abandoned slaughterhouse


The killing machine the sea monster the beast from the black depth

Was an invisible virus particle on a door handle


I am Andromeda

Chained to a cursed cliff by the sea

Locked up in a one-room apartment in Bergamo next to an abandoned slaughterhouse

In quarantine in a frying hot loft apartment in Paris

I am an actor with digital home office

To be or not to be that is the fucking question

I am a prostitute with a surgical facemask and antibac

Searching for paying monsters from the depths of the ocean

I am an old man shouting out load my hatred spitting virus infected particles

I am a temporary laid off teacher embracing a crying child in the street

And coughing

I throw myself in front of the tram the train the bus down the cliff the elevator shaft

I eat deadly poison stale meat hallucinatory mushrooms

I inject my blood vessels with heroine

And I am still Andromeda

The sea monster’s poisonous tentacles caress my naked feet

The tentacles sling themselves around my thighs the poison is quickly injected through the pores

Give me the poison give me the plague

Put me in a sealed plastic bag drive me to the cold storage room

Give me freedom

From the fear of death

Give me the painful death so that I no longer have to fear it


The wind increases it has changed direction

The water is foaming the waves crash against the cliff the ocean is in revolt

Red poisonous tentacles have risen from the depths

The sky darkens by black clouds

The Scandinavian tourists in the sailing boat try to keep the boat on course

But the sail is torn by a violent gust of wind the mast breaks

The waves beat the boat that is drawn towards the cliff

The sea monster’s tentacles suck on Andromeda’s thighs

The sea god Poseidon is getting ready to receive his sacrificial gift

While the plague is ravaging Thebes without mercy

While useless facemasks are flown in by military aircrafts from China

While radioactive respirators from Russia self-ignite and burn

While doctors tie coffee-filters around mouth and nose

And plead King Oedipus to close the slaughterhouses

Where Eastern European slave workers are sacrificed to the virus to the plague

Dead animals and farmed fish stuffed with antibiotics

And endangered animals

Bred for the genetically modified food industry

Wrapped in sealed plastic bags together with tentacles from poisonous octopuses

And thrown after sell by date into the cold storage room

A hurt bat restlessly flutters over the stale carcasses

At the marked place in Thebes


Andromeda is pulled into the water

Or is it the sea level that is rising


The sea god Poseidon extends his floating kingdom of hydrogen and oxygen

The oceans are rising

Huge land areas are flooded

Cornfields rice fields villages metropolises disappear under cold murky water

People flee towards the mountains the cliffs the upper floors of the high-rice buildings

Giant waves rise and crush century-old civilizations

And suck civilization residues into the sea down to the depths when they retract

The poison from the sea monster’s tentacles swim inside Andromeda’s blood vessels

Finds its way to the brain to the mind to the conciseness creating new images

She sees the white dressed people from the crushed sailboat

Their sun burned inflamed skin is as red and shiny as the colossal octopus’

They walk from the wreckage walk on the water dance effortlessly on the waves smile

Their sun-bleached hair vibrate in the strong wind

The violent wind gusts are filled with invisible virus particles

From the plague in Thebes

And there in Thebes the graveyards are full the temples closed and the priests dead

There in Thebes there are no one left to conciliate the sea god with gifts

No fathers with knives and not even Medea

And no innocent virgins to sacrifice


Everything was out of control

Already before the plague before a deadly virus had spread its particles in the wind

Already before a hurt bat landed on an endangered animal’s stale carcass

At the meat marked in Thebes

Already before king Cepheus decided to sacrifice his own daughter

Already before the young Oedipus killed the dragon that guarded the gate in Thebes

Everything was out of control

Perhaps it started when Prometheus stole the gods’ fire and gave it to the humans

And then it didn’t really take long before the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded

Before the invisible particles started to appear in the air the soil the drinking water

Before the clear blue sky became darkened by carbon monoxide from human greed

Greed totally indifferent to the army of slave workers

Indifferent to the army of children

Barefooted searching for stale meat in sealed plastic bags on garbage dumps

The winds and the ocean currents changed directions

The temperature rose and the metropolises became inhabitable

And then the water came

Then came the punishment from the sea god Poseidon

Or admonition or reprimand or correction

Or quite simply his attempt to restore the divine order

Or was it a thank you for the gift?


I am Andromeda

The sacrifice to the sea god Poseidon

I am the young woman breathing into the fire

Distracting the maintenance crew at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Cutting up stale meat at the market in Thebes

Selling it to children

Give me a larger knife give me a virus

And put a stale world on my butcher’s bench

I sacrificed my youth my beauty my intellect my analytical skills

I sacrifice my father king Cepheus and I sacrifice with by knife all mothers of all times

Mothers that have given birth to all those infecting this world with their greed

Their pollution their biological warfare their dirty bombs their automatic guns

Their ecological catastrophe

And their indifference

I am Andromeda

Proud and without fear I stand here on this cliff

The monster from the depths of the sea holds me trapped with its poisonous tentacles

The poison is injected irregularly in my body while the beast is looking at me

With the biggest eyes of all living species

The colossal octopus opens his jaws

I look into an infinite black darkness

And because I willingly let myself be sacrificed

It is no longer the water level that is rising



The catastrophe is averted

It is I

That is pulled down into the deep