Ask The Oracle!

Premiere 2018, Gessnerallee Zürich

It is about seers.
About the gift of sight.
About anxiety, disaster, curiosity and being driven.
Two female figures derived from greek mythology and history Cassandra and Pythia.

A co-production of the Gessnerallee Zurich, the Schlachthaus Theater Bern and the Théatre ARSENIC Lausanne. Further performances: Impulstanz Festival Vienna, Theater RMPE Stuttgart and many more.

Supported by: City of Zurich Culture, Canton of Zurich Culture, Ernst Göhner Foundation, Pro Helvetia, Georges and Jenny Bloch Foundation.

Concept, text, dramaturgy, stage, performance: Annina Machaz and Mira Kandathil, Production management: Miriam Walter Kohn, Lighting design: Benny Hauser, Camera: Ari Zehnder and Benjamin Dobo, Video animation: Sinae Yoo, Pyroeffect: Urs Bruderer, Songproduction: Sebastian Pagel

Project description

We deal with the phenomenon of the oracle. Delphi, that was yesterday.

Where do today's contemporaries find their oracle? Cassandra and the priestess Pythia prophesied in the temple of Delphi. As seers, they had the same profession, but according to tradition they never met. In our project, they meet. We are the counterpart of these two women and take care of the people seeking advice from the oracle.

The two art figures created by us are the 'flesh' of the performance and determine content and form. We use the strategies and experiences of the seers in times of crisis in antiquity and look at the present with their gaze. The audience takes on the role of approaching pilgrims. In the course of the evening, the audience experiences a fantastic approach to the oracle.

Personal and social questions are followed by poetic answers. We deal with the oracle of Delphi and create our own, today's oracle. Greek mythology serves as a bracket. The oracle as an aid for important decisions and inputs for action. We place our focus on the now: As social and religious historian Georges Minois explains, "The main reason for the continuing popularity of fortune-telling in modern times - is not the need to gain knowledge about the future, but the social function of the relationship between the seer and his client seeking orientation. The customer seeks comforting human contact in troubled and volatile times." We want to treat the audience as approaching pilgrims and pick them up in their momentary state of mind and uncertainty. We find translations and poetic approaches to current issues. Our means are the two art figures: Cassandra focuses on personal abysses, in contrast to Pythia, who thematizes social unrest. There is also the fundamental difference that Cassandra is cursed by her gift of sight to foresee only disaster and no one believes her. In comparison, Pythia, the priestess, is revered and believed. We let the two communicate and telepathize with each other - show what they would foresee today. How we represent the world as vulnerable actors and act as fortunetellers changes the self-perception of the 'pilgrims who have arrived'. In Greek mythology one reads again and again of unbelievable and terrible prophecies. The seers often get into a mad and uncanny state when delivering the news. As a contemporary translation, we presented “Ballermannsongs”, incredibly loud and shrill - known from the tourist parties in Mallorca. To write and produce these hits with banal and yet also funny rhymes was a great contribution to the work.

In addition to the stage show, we offered 1:1 sessions. During the research phase, we started to try out intimate, short divination moments with only one audience member at a time. Soon it became clear that these sessions meant something special to the participants and that their questions about the future were much more personal and serious than expected. Therefore, we expanded the 1:1 sessions into a format of their own. Initially, the questioners always felt a certain trepidation, since they suddenly found themselves alone in a confined space with Pythia and Cassandra. However, the latent feeling of anxiety gave way to a surprising closeness within a few minutes of each session. The guests responded to the unconventional "divination methods", were shaken up and serious, but at the same time a relaxed mood spread during each session. With an optimistic, almost grateful feeling that is difficult to describe, the seekers always set off again after the 1:1 sessions, into the world outside, in front of the fortune-telling house. 


20 Minuten Schweiz:

“The most bizarre fortunetellers in Switzerland!”

It is difficult to put into words. You have to see it to understand what Beyoncé iconic pregnancy photo, a garden shed with a luminous toilet bowl, an egg-laying XXL eagle and "the birth of Venus " have in common. This mixture of socio-critical cynicism, pop-cultural cross-references, performance dance, magic tricks and motivational training clearly takes some getting used to. After this permanently a bit too loud, too garish too angry overload, one can actually only feel bad. Especially when you are yelled at in front of everyone to baller music and have to learn from a stark naked woman that you are not "hot". One should think so. But that's not the case! I feel strangely boosted and carefree. and totally confused. The bizarre show full of obscurity will continue to work in me for a long time.” (Benjamin Quirico for Tillate)


"The future is now. What an ingeniously double-edged assertion in an age that is just discovering that it can't be entirely beneficial if everyone lives as if there were no tomorrow! At the thought of what could come, a shudder increasingly goes through the social body. How is it to go on in reality, and where does the right oracle speak? That's where the Swiss artists Mira Kandathil and Annina Machaz come in. Because the two cynical "seers" mirrored on Cassandra and Pythia have the gift. They turn the oracle into a captivating dance variety show and throw obscure divinations at their audience: For example, what a garden hut with a glowing toilet bowl means, or how a pregnancy photo of Beyoncé connects with a large eagle." (

Springback Magazine:

“Mira Kandathil and Annina Machaz also question our upcoming fate in Ask the Oracle: The Future is Now, by looking at what a contemporary oracle may resemble. Galvanising Greek mythology, they channel the seers Cassandra and the priestess Pythia of Delphi, inventing a phantasmagorical world where they simultaneously become TV game show hosts and astral deities. In an explosion of red glitter and fake blood, Kanthadil and Machaz engage in incomprehensible yet riveting rituals. They constantly flirt with the ungraspable, piling up chimerical symbols upon art history references, titillating our incurable longing for certainty. We are left with prophecies such as ‘Shit happens’ or ‘Google my mind’ as well as forms to fill in after the show, with questions for the Oracle. I am still waiting for my telepathic response.” (Critic Impulstanzfestival Vienna, “Springback Magazine”)

Tillate Magazine:

A blow to the neck from the oracle. Before I finally throw in the towel and sit down in front of the TV again, I give my next program item on my list a chance: Ask the oracle. Quite traumatized I enter quite nervous and tense the small wooden house in which "the seers" already expect me. I am too fat and in a bad mood for narrow, hot rooms and human closeness. And yet somehow it does not bother me that in this tiny place I am yelled at by a stranger, thrown red glitter and (surprisingly hard) punched in the neck. I feel almost even comfortable here in a way that is mysterious to me. Somehow liberated and full of zest for action, I will dare to say. For a brief moment I actually think about leaving my therapist and from now on regularly visit the oracle ladies.


"(...)Recognize yourself" is written on the wooden hut. And other things on stage: red carpet, huge pink plastic shell, trampoline, two fire bowls, in which it actually burns sometimes, a wrap of brown fur (the sacrificial lamb) ...

Magic tricks, two brass players in the audience, pouring liquor, nudity, real tears, the ritual slaughter of a sacrificial lamb that doesn't want to die despite a beating-and-knifing orgy and is then bloodily disemboweled, a spectator "kidnapped" into her house who has to read from the toilet paper afterwards, fog and lots of red glitter rain. And they play in two interview sequences with Monroe and Winehouse. Just to hint at some of the many scenes in this hour-long performance. Musically, it ranges from Schlager to RnB, lyrically from "The future can't be predicted. You have to shape it." to "Google my mind!", performing from acting to dancing. Miranda Kandathil and Annina Machaz present with "Ask the oracle -the future is now-" a firework of ideas, which they bring to the stage, spiced with a lot of irony, in an extremely humorous way.(...)"  (


"As Cassandra and Pythia, the Swiss artists turn the oracle into a captivating dance variety show, throwing obscure fortune-telling at their audience: For example, what a garden hut with a glowing toilet bowl means, or how a pregnancy photo of Beyoncé connects with a large eagle. Theater that shits itself nothing."  (