Interview: TAKDAJA on Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory, “When things connect there is a spark in the gut”

Established in 2017, TAKDAJA is an international experimental theatre collective that explores the body and space as raw performance tools. They don’t conform to conventional structures, instead the collective creates by transcending within the world around them.
TAKDAJA seeks new ways of communicating with the audience to further push boundaries between theatre, live art, and film.

They aim to create a theatre that’s not necessarily dependent on its story-line and which is accessible to those who may not always feel included by traditional approaches; a theatre with a pulsating core which embraces change and is not reliant on a specific theatrical space.

Their show Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory opens next month as part of this year’s VAULT Festival. It’s a dream-like experience inspired by fears and fuelled by hope: the fruitless attempts of finding love, embracing solitude and seeking acceptance.
Ahead of opening we caught up with TAKDAJA to hear more about show and their work. Appropriately, they chose to answer our questions as a collective – we wouldn’t want it any other way.


Thanks for talking with us about your production Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory which opens at this year’s VAULT Festival. Can you tell us about TAKDAJA?

Thanks for your interest in talking to us.

We formed our theatre company TAKDAJA in 2017. The name TAKDAJA actually means YES YES YES in our languages: Polish, Romanian and German! So we are quite the optimistic bunch. The four of us (Theodor, Pat, Michał and Mimmi) all come from different disciplines, backgrounds and countries. Theodor brought us all together after meeting us individually through physical theatre workshops, an experimental film project, improv and clowning. It just clicked! One of the most important aspects is that we have fun creating together. We are an experimental theatre company that devises in a non-hierarchical manner. We strive to be as creatively free as possible, utilising our own backgrounds in creating multi-disciplinary performances.

What can you tell us about Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory?

Fruits or, The Decline of a Distant Memory is a neo-cabaret performance about the fruitless attempts of finding love. It explores the anxiety of constantly trying to fit in and adjust in society from the perspective of first-generation migrants. Stuck in the midst of space and time, three entities are searching for meaning.

Fruits originated by responding to our impulses. We all brought a fruit to a meeting that recalled specific memories. We then went our separate ways, each writing scenes responding to our experiences.

We devised the piece bringing our ideas together and coming up with new ones once we were in the rehearsal room.

Fragmentation worked really well for this experiment. With this, the piece is a collection of vignettes, following three entities morphing into various shapes and personas. It comes from a very personal place, and that shows. This is ultimately a love story between the self and its reflection. However, the piece very much lends itself to encouraging the audience to identify their own story within the piece, if they so wish. It is visual, sensorial and non-narrative, which makes it so interesting to hear what the piece evoked afterwards.

How do you think VAULT audiences will react to the production?

Well, hopefully, they’ll love it, haha. In all seriousness, we hope that it provokes reaction, whatever that means/could be for them. It’s like a seed that’s sprouting in so many different and beautiful ways, and then really, it’s up to those invited in the space with us to decide what they would like to do with the fruit – they could let it rot on the inside, or perhaps make an apple pie and add some Wensleydale cheese on top. There’s something unsatisfactory about a sense of instant realisation, of intellectualising everything. We didn’t want to give them that but take them on a journey in which they can piece together their own story. It’s more about a feeling – when things connect there is a spark in the gut. That’s the exciting bit: it is quite unpredictable how the audience is going to react. Fruits has comedic, emotional and bizarre moments within it, which makes the hour quite intriguing.

It’s bonkers, really!

Your first debuted the show in 2019 – how much has it evolved since then?

Since our first showing at RADA Studios during the Camden Fringe Festival, Fruits has evolved and grown, just as we have as individuals and as a company. We had a residency at the end of 2019 at SURGE in Glasgow where we had the opportunity to live, eat and breathe Fruits for a week.

Although a necessary journey, the real changes happened more recently though.

Perhaps due to the pandemic, lockdown and isolation, we realised that many parts of the show have changed their meaning to us, which brought a new perspective and novelty to the show.  With each iteration, all the pieces get reshuffled. Of course, many scenes and characters have stayed, but as it is a personal piece, they changed with us. Also, adapting the piece to a new space naturally evolves and changes. Sometimes there are limitations that can make you more creative, or there are possibilities at hand that you haven’t been able to use, such as specific architectural settings.

What kind of opportunities or challenges are there in working as a collective?

Life and the arts do come with their challenges. We think that we are at such an exciting time as a company. Of course, being at VAULTS is amazing, but looking into the future, we are actually currently working towards a new project, which we will begin devising in late spring/summer. We are combining genetics and experimental theatre together, making an exciting new artistic experiment.

With that, we are continuing to host our workshops: Awakening the Imagined Body in Space. It is always a great opportunity to teach and meet new people who are interested in learning about psychophysical theatre.

We live in exciting times where experimental theatre is becoming increasingly popular. With that, we are very optimistic with our future ventures.

Finally, how would you describe Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

Fruits is tantalising, raw, comedic, romantic. Most of all, sweet and juicy, with perhaps just enough of bitter!

It’s truly a visual experience that is cryptic and cerebral. It asks more questions than it gives answers to. It’s a mood landscape.

As an audience member put it: Totally fucking mad!

To quote Cindy Marcolina from Broadway World UK, who saw the first iteration of the show at RADA Studios, Fruits is ‘a pretentiously brazen and intriguing absurdist play on the decadence of society’ (…) ‘It’s excessive and impertinent, vulgar and amusing’.

Fruits, or the Decline of a Distant Memory is at Cavern, VAULT Festival from Tue 28th Feb – Sun 5th Mar.