Through an interdisciplinary, strongly visual and textured approach, Zuštiak excavates themes of human ambition, rootlessness, meaning and identity. HEBEL takes its name from the ancient Book of Ecclesiastes, appearing there 38 times, and still prompting ongoing discourse. Hebel can be translated as vanity, but also emptiness, vapor, breath and absurdity. It lies at the heart of the Book’s key question: “What do you gain from all your work?” HEBEL reflects on temporal human effort and individual life’s worth. HEBEL draws us into an evocative, emotionally charged exploration of life’s meaning and what it means to witness in destabilized world.

Reflecting the scale and proportions of the HEBEL’s ontological questions and informed, too, by Michel Foucault’s writings on docile bodies, power and architecture, Zuštiak in collaboration with scenographer Keith Skretch create a large-scale kinetic scenography that changes to steadily re-contextualize performers’ bodies and to destabilize the audience’s assumptions, thus extending the piece’s inquiries into time, effort, and ending.

Other creative points of departure include: Vera Chytilova’s Czech feminist movie Daisies (1966); Michel Foucault writing “Of Other Spaces” on heterotopias, and NASA’s recordings of black holes emanating sound.

Integrating choreography, kinetic scenography and live music, HEBEL crosses disciplines to make a visceral performance in quest for meaning where the turbulent past and present are alive and the future is envisioned.

Learn more about Pavel Zuštiak and Palissimo.

Office Hours: Coming Soon

Indefinite Article

Jay Wegman on Pavel Zuštiak

Hebel takes its title from a Hebrew word in the biblical book Ecclesiastes. A roomy word, it contains multitudes.

Get Into It

Get Thee to the LIbrary

Recommended readings to accompany the Indefinite Article by Jay Wegman.

Rachel Bowditch, Jeff Casazza, Annette Thornton (eds), Physical Dramaturgy: Perspectives from the Field. Routledge, 2018.

“Ecclesiastes” in The Bible: King James Version. Brown Books Publishing, 2004.

Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias” in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology: Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume 2. The New Press, 1999.

Heiner Goebbels, Aesthetics of Absence: Texts on Theatre. Routledge, 2015.

Lucy Ives, “A Note on Vanitas” in Triple Canopy, September 15, 2016.

Read All About It

Ben Swenson-Klatt for Walker Art Magazine | Oct 19, 2016

Beauty at the Edge of Terror: A Conversation with Pavel Zuštiak

“I think the resistance towards beauty also comes from its associations, for instance as something being pretty or as something that has to be symmetrical, these preconceived ideas of what beautiful means. Who defines that?”

Kyoungh Park for the Brooklyn Commune | Aug 1, 2013

Talking to Pavel Zuštiak: A Cultural Democracy in the Performing Arts Interview

“I do not consciously try to represent a certain community. But I feel more and more threatened as an artist in the US and am concerned about the role and place of an artist in the American culture. I am not talking about popular culture or mainstream art but about non-commercial art.”

Extra Credit

We’ve picked a book to complement each show in our season. We’ve got novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and memoir. Before opening night of each show (usually Fridays, but not always!), we’ll meet in the lobby for happy hour drinks and discussion. It’s an fun, informal way to find a new favorite book, meet people, and get your brain into gear for the show – even if you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet.

NYU Skirball Book Club | Friday, April 17, 2020

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

Space Struck explores, in verse, the wonders and cruelties occurring within the realms of nature, science, and religion.