Interview: 'The Murder of Halit Yozgat' with director Ben Frost
“Sorry my brain is not working yet,” Ben Frost apologises over a WhatsApp call from a takeaway coffee store in Iceland. It is 9.30am Icelandic time and the Australian composer and director sounds tired. Over the last few days he has been working hard to finish a film of the rehearsals of his new opera that was available to stream during the Online Holland Festival. In an interview with 200% magazine Frost shares the story behind the production proces of his new opera The Murder of Halit Yozgat. Based on a racially-motivated real life murder of Halit Yozgat in an internet café in Kassel, Germany.
"I immediately envisioned The Murder of Halit Yozgat as an opera. The story is about sound and more specifically about the denial of the detectability of a sound. In the original video reconstructions made by Forensic Architecture this intelligence agent claims that he didn’t hear these two gunshots in the internet café. The fallacy of those statements is perhaps not immediately obvious to the average person, but given the nature of my work, I felt I was in a unique position to demonstrate that the agent’s story doesn’t make any sense. I can place a speaker on the stage in the same proximity to Halit and I can deliver two 140 decibel gunshots out of it. I can show you in the back of an opera house what that sounds like and you can watch a man mere metres away not react at all. An opera can bring a visceral physicality to that story."
What were the main obstacles to overcome in the production process of your new opera?
"Corona. We got shut down twice during the period of production. It was painful dealing with the infrastructure of German theatre under pandemic conditions. It was definitely not my favourite experience in life. I’m not a patient man and it was definitely trying. [laughs] Ultimately I do get a lot out of those situations, though. The global pandemic added some strange energy to do things we couldn’t have planned for."
Read more about this interview on 200%
In this video you can see a short preview of the video reconstruction on the Halit Yozgat murder case made by Forensic Architecture: