Was war und was wir uns wünschen!

Nach 18 Tagen Theater, Diskussionen und schlaflosen Nächten zieht das TT-Blog-Orchester kollektiv Bilanz.

Herzliche Begrüßung des Blog-Orchesters mit Blümchen. Bestechungsversuch?

Eröffnung T. Oberender: „Theater ist das Leitmedium eines neuen Zeitalters.“ wtf?

Zement: Heiner Müller und Dimiter Gotscheff sprechen zu uns. Auferstehung der Toten?

Trophäe wurde von Ai Weiwei gestaltet. Alles wirklich selbstgemacht?

Amphitryon, eine einzige Regie-Idee zieht sich durch den Abend. Wer bin ich, und wenn ja, wie viele?

Theater und Netz, eine zukünftige Liebesgeschichte. Mit Happy End?

Eröffnung des Internationalen Forum mit Mittagessen für Leib und Seele. Gibt es am gemeinsamen Tisch mehr Austausch, als auf der Bühne?

Situation Rooms von Rimini Protokoll leider aus dispositorischen Gründen nur als multimedialer Info-Stand vertreten. Theatertreffen: zu statische Strukturen für dynamische Produktionsbedingungen?

Onkel Wanja. Zelebrierte Langeweile oder atmosphärisches Treibenlassen in einer unübersichtlichen Zeit?

Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt. Eine beklemmende Playbackinszenierung gewinnt den 3Sat-Preis. Aber kann der bayerische Erzkatholizismus heute noch in Berlin schockieren?

Eröffnung Camp. Warum zeltet hier niemand?

Stadttheater: Metropole vs. Provinz. Stand der Gewinner nicht schon immer fest?

Reise ans Ende der Nacht. Castorfs Schauspieler jagen durch den Bretterverhau und wir twittern davon aus der letzten Reihe. Unfall mit dem iPad: Die Apple-Sprachsoftware Siri spricht aus, was alle denken: „Ich habe das leider nicht verstanden.“ Wo geht die Reise hin?

Jurorin Daniele Muscionico hat aus dem Programmheft abgeschrieben. Wie ernsthaft wird hier ausgewählt?

Tauberbach, Alain Platels Tanztheater spaltet das Blog-Orchester. Nichtssagend, inhaltlich problematisch oder tief berührend?

Intervention beim Theatertreffen. Tauberbach in der Kritik. Plagiat? Fortschreibung des Kolonialismus?

Debatte überInternationalisierung des Theaters“. Betrifft das nur Stadttheater?

Eröffnung Stückemarkt. Ein spannendes neues Konzept unter falschem Label. Etikettenschwindel?

Mystery Magnet. Expressiver Umgang mit zeitgenössischen Oberflächen und aktuellen Inhalten. Sind wir nicht bereits alle übersättigt?

There Has Possibly Been An Incident. Ein Text wird gelesen und nicht gespielt. Wird er dadurch besser wahrgenommen?

Haus//Nummer/Null. Willkommen in einer furchtbaren Zukunft! Warum passt unsere gegenwärtige Gesellschaft nicht besser auf?

Während wir im Festspielgarten sitzen, wird der junge Autor Jörg Albrecht in Abu Dhabi festgehalten und, zum Glück, bald wieder frei gelassen. Hat die Öffentlichkeit für Freiheit gesorgt?

Letzte Zeugen des Holocaust, eine berührende Stimmübergabe mit Standing Ovations. Geht der Dialog auch aus dem Theater heraus?

Bei der Preisverleihung von Die letzten Zeugen, gibt Regisseur Matthias Hartmann seinen ersten öffentlichen Auftritt nach seinem Rauswurf aus dem Burgtheater Wien. Während noch alle von den Geschichten der Überlebenden bewegt sind, stilisiert er sich als Opfer und spricht von seinem Karrierealptraum: „Nach dem Horror der letzten Wochen, kommt es mir so vor als mache es jetzt Klick, und alles sei nur ein böser Traum gewesen“. Gehts noch?!

Ohne Inhalt Titel. Glitzerkostüme und Furzgeräusche. Worüber wird da gelacht?

Kasper Hauser. Ein freiheitsliebendes Pferd kommentiert das Geschehen im Puppenhaus.

Jury Debatte.


Schlussszene. Ein Tisch. Sechs Personen. Zwölf Bier. Viele Wünsche.

mehr freie Produktionen, auch aus kleineren Häusern, aus der Provinz und nicht nur große Namen”…„wieso machen sie nicht mal eine Ausnahme?”…„wieso sind sie ängstlich?”… „große Namen heißt ja vielleicht nur besserers Handwerk, und nicht die spannenderen Themen und relevanteren Fragen”…„mehr solche Inhalte wie sie im Stückemarkt verhandelt wurden”… „ja, das hat sich das Internationale Forum auch gewünscht”…„auch wenn Freie Szene nicht automatisch besser ist.”… “ja, Inhalte!”… „nach dieser schwachen Juryschlussdiskussion bitte alle Juroren austauschen” … „vielleicht auch ein paar Juroren aus der Bildenden Kunst, Kuratoren, oder aus anderen Disziplinen”…„ich wünsche mir ein heterogeneres Publikum”…„günstigere Karten, dann wären auch noch Freunde von mir gekommen”…„und keine Angst vor dem Internet”… „Inhalte fürs Netz. Momente, die man dort mit Freunden teilen kann”…„besseres Wetter!” … „ohja, und Freibier!”… „ich hätte gern mehr vom Internationalen Forum und dem Stückemarkt wahrgenommen” …„noch mehr Austausch”…„Prost”…„Prost” … „ja, waren intensive und spannende zwei Wochen”… „dennoch wünsche ich mir mehr Relevanz der Themen, mehr Aktualität” … „ja ,dafür ist Theater einfach da” …„von mir aus kann das Theatertreffen auch zwei Sparten machen. Also die Gala-boring-Nummern und die wilden Sachen” ….„also ich finde es gefährlich, zwei Sparten zu machen. Ich finde, die Sachen vom Stückemarkt sollten mit ins Hauptprogramm, nicht, dass die relevanten Themen zum Nebenschauplatz werden”… „beim Theatertreffen ähnelt das Konzept auch stark einer Museumsidee”… „ja stimmt, voll 90er” … „und Theater ist ja auch nicht per se ein Schatz”

Alle ab.

[Vorhang]

 

 

Theatertreffen final: three questions to follow-up

A final note by Nathalie Frank, stage editor by our partner magazine Exberliner

TT14 is over! Was it „interesting as never before”, as predicted Berliner Festspiele’s director Thomas Oberender on the first evening? Being in Berlin for not even three years I cannot judge whereas “as never before” applies for this 51st festival, but it was for sure an exciting edition that raised crucial theatrical issues. To finish my blogging contribution I would like to examine three questions to follow-up:

How far can theatre and Internet work together?
Parallel to the opening weekend of the Theatertreffen a conference on “Theater and the Net” took place at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. An opportunity to discuss the possible cross-overs between two a priori antinomic media, the living theater and the virtual world wide web. How can one respond to the other, or can they reflect on each other? And, what concerns precisely the Theatertreffen-Blog adventure: what kind of opportunities can theatre criticism use within the web platform? In that sense, the blog can be seen as an experiment, a try, within a small team, to respond to a theatre festival not only with texts, but with multimedia formats: videos, sketches, graphical responses or soundtracks. As an experiment it can and should be discussed further. Your feedback on these tries or inputs concerning the possible relationship between the Web and the Theatre are welcomed at stage@exberliner.com.

Who copies who and is that relevant?
Plagiarism was a highly discussed issue at this year’s Theatertreffen. It started with journalist Wolfgang Behrens who found out that jury-member Daniele Muscionico, instead of writing her “justification” for the choice of the “Journey to the End of the Night” by herself, had copied it for a large part from the Residenztheater’s advertising material. This raises obviously the question of the credibility of a choice that cannot even be justified by a jury’s own words. Wolfgang Behrens published his discovery on the portal nachtkritik.de and as an answer became official excuses from both the festival and Daniele Muscionico. But a few days later nachtkritik.de went further in investigation and found out that the same jury member copied another text to justify another choice last year already. This was too much for the Theatertreffen. Daniele Muscionico resigned from her position in the TT- Jury immediately. This was also necessary  to preserve the festival’s credibility. How that could happen in such a big organization with many controlling instances remains a mystery.

On May 11, one day after the first Muscionico’s case was made public, Alain Platel’s production “tauberbach” had to face similar accusations. Before the performance began, the dance collective Grupo Oito from the Ballhaus Naunynstr. demonstrated in front of the house and distributed leaflets stating that Platel’s work was inspired by Ricardo de Paula’s piece “Sight” that premiered a year before “tauberbach” in Berlin. It turned out that this accusation – later denied both by Platel and de Paula – was more of a way to discuss Platel’s “post-colonial” view on Estamira, both pieces’ central character living in a Brazilian favela. Although the plagiarism accusation is a shameless way to raise up a debate, these questions belong to contemporary Western theatre and you might want to make your own opinion on that case. By waiting until the Ballhaus Naunynstr. plays “Sight” again (appetizer in the trailer). And by making a trip to Munich or Frankfurt to catch “tauberbach”, my personal TT14’s highlight (at the Münchner Kammerspiele on June 9-12, at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm on June 17-18).

What kind of theatre deserves to be presented as “remarkable”?
The ongoing burning question at the Theatertreffen since many years never seems to find a proper, clear answer. As a background information: since the 1970s the German states-and municipal theaters landscape cohabit with a flourishing independent scene, that differs a lot with big stages in terms of size, production and financing structure. However relevance and quality are well represented in both scenes. So why should the choice of the “10 most remarkable works” of the year systematically heavily advantage the states-and municipal theaters? The question is as simple as the answers are multiple and contradictory. The audience couldn’t take independent experiments? Small productions couldn’t compete with the giant masters who can afford huge stages? They would only look ridiculous?
Or is it a structural problem, as stated by jury member Barbara Burckhardt during the jury’s final talk: the independent productions are usually performed three or four times in a row and sometimes never again.  If one jury member likes it, this makes it difficult for the other jury’s members to see it. The state-and municipal theatre system, playing repertoire pieces repeatedly month after month with a permanent ensemble, is thus advantaged: if a jury member sees a good show, the others can travel and see it a month later. The argument is clear thus questionable: shouldn’t a festival that pretends to select the “10 most remarkable plays of the year” be able to rethink its structure and selection process in order to adapt to a flourishing and diverse theatrical landscape?
As if a statement had to be made, the only selected piece from the independent scene, Rimini Protokoll’s “Situation Rooms”, could not attend the festival – the project is co-produced internationally and was already booked for Paris and Athens in May. Berliners, the piece is coming at the HAU in December.
Yet a promising step toward aesthetic diversification was made this year, although to the detriment of young authors whose yearly competition was cancelled: the Stückemarkt, traditionally a selection of fresh texts, was transformed into a platform featuring and discussing new forms of authorships and theatrical forms (for more information see my overview article on the Stückemarkt as well as interviews with the three invited artists, Miet Warlop, Chris Thorpe and Mona el Gammal). Interesting forms were represented and one can only hope they would deserve to be presented next to the blockbusters are part of the “remarkable” German theatre landscape.
What can we expect for 2015? Three jury-member out of seven are being replaced – apart from the specific case of Daniele Muscionico, two more jury members, Anke Dürr and Christoph Leibold, finished their three-years-service. With almost half of fresh blood, the new jury have a good excuse to rethink its politic and have the courage to really reflect on the fabulous diversity of the German theatre landscape.

Mona el Gammal: “The future that we show is not really far away from what we have now”

Creating unique “narrative spaces”, Mona el Gammal (Germany) won the Cologne Theatre Prize for Haus//Nummer/Null, an installation taking place in a dystopian future setting she is presenting at the Stückemarkt – invited by Signa Köstler. As she was working on the piece’s installation in a secret place in Berlin, we met to discuss this hybrid art form and the future that might expect us.

Nathalie Frank: You present a “narrative space” – where does that term come from?
Mona el Gammal: I was studying scenography in Karlsruhe, and my Prof. Penelope Wehrli made a seminar about “narrative space”, actually she kind of invented that term. The work she gave us to do was to tell a story within a space, I was immediately very enthusiastic. I made one space and another… I like how close to the spectator you can be, and full of details, of sounds… It is like putting the spectator inside a book with many different options to explore the story – by exploring the space. That is the point of a narrative space: it is a space telling a story and the spectator is invited to explore it in a non linear way.

NF: What is the story told by “Haus//Nummer/Null”?
MeG: It is a futuristic dystopian world. It centres on the character of Frau N. She did participate in shaping the system and now she is very disappointed by the result, the state has been replaced by a private company, the system promises a false happiness… It started with me wanting to make something futuristic, then we began to construct this world with Juri [Padel, co-author] and it became quickly very complex. We created a very gloomy future inspired by a lot of scientific and sociologic books that we read. We had never worked with science-fiction, it was really a cool time. We collaborated with Tom [Förderer, Sound designer] who makes incredible atmospheres, Michael [Rudolph, Light designer], Tim [Stadie, Screen designer], the graphic designers and web-masters, in that sense it is really a collective work.

NF: Does the space particularly stimulate the spectator’s sense of responsibility?
MeG: For me the spectator’s responsibility is the responsibility that every person has: to use a life-time to shape our society because we do have urgencies. It’s not going in a good way, we are destroying our planet and our social life. I wish the performance creates a space to think about those issues. We took many actual tendencies and exaggerated them. The system that we show is not really far away from what we have now, some of it is actually even real.

NF: This year’s Stückemarkt focuses on “new models of authorship” – to what extend do you feel representative?
MeG: Well I guess what I do is quite new, but the world is big, there might be other people who do narrative spaces as well, I’d be glad to visit one. In fact a “narrative space” is a really complex set of texts in various forms, there are many documents, official letters, newspapers’ articles, sounds and the whole website. It is a hybrid form between theatre and visual arts, I am glad to be able to present it in the frame of a theatre festival, because it’s more my world than visual arts.
What is new is maybe the focus on a spectator that is alone with himself… I guess I was really lucky to find a form that I can develop within a long period of time, working both on space and sound and enjoying the possibilities that you have when you produce a long time in advance.

Exberliner is partner of the Theatertreffen-blog.

Photo: Pauline Fabry

Chris Thorpe: “I am not particularly interested in the skill of pretending to be someone else”

Author and performer, Chris Thorpe (UK) has collaborated with Unlimited Theatre, Third Angel and the BBC; he was invited to the Stückemarkt by Simon Stephens. This evening, he presents “There Has Possibly Been An Incident”, which premiered at the Latitude Festival in July of last year. We discussed on Skype about authorship, ego and responsibility.

Nathalie Frank: You write and you perform, how does that influence your writing?
Chris Thorpe: I come from working collaboratively with companies, with friends, I’m often working very immediately in the rehearsal room with them. That process influences the way that I write for the stage: I write more in a style of a text for performance rather than a play. It is a very specific relationship with the audience that I want, with the idea that the text is there in order to exist with the room and audience, not to create a sense of an alternative word. The text makes the performers have an odd relationship with the audience, not the same that actors would have, with the intention of a show rather than a group of actors creating a world.

NF: How was the process for “There has possibly been an accident”?
CT: I did write this text as a playwright feeling like a playwright, feeling that it’s my responsibility to create a text which is essentially an instruction manual for a performance, which is then worked, rehearsed and designed. The language of it is still very influenced by that devising collaborative background that I have, it doesn’t necessarily stick to the rules of playwriting, but it stick to the function of the text in playwriting. Another way these collaborative processes did influence the way I work is that I’m very open and flexible when the play is being rehearsed to changing the text, to refine that text in the rehearsal.

NF: How do the performers deal with this kind of text?
CT: All performers, including me, are reading the text. It’s a deliberate choice I use also a lot in my solo work. I am not particularly interested in the skill of pretending to be someone else. On the contrary, the actual act of reading destroys, hopefully, the weird impressive trick of knowing all those world, and that tendency to look at someone who has memorised a lot of text, instead of actually listening to the text. It’s great to work with actors who can switch off their acting.

NF: “There Has Possibly Been An Incident” deals with decision-making and heroism…
CT: The idea of heroism came from the idea that most of the time, most of the people think that they are right and I find that an astonishing thing about human being. Because it leads us to the worst of ourselves. It’s really rare to have someone do what they consider to be the wrong thing. And that leads to the very idea of heroism. If you act according to what you believe is right, then sometimes you’ll be a hero and sometimes the contrary. When you look at people in the situation where they have the choice to be heroic, is it always an iconic image, and sometimes people will find themselves making the mistake that they originally thought to eradicate, like attacking or killing human beings because they think they have no alternative.

NF: This year’s Stückemarkt focuses on “new models of authorship” – to what extend do you feel representative?
CT: Well I don’t sit down and say “I’m gonna be innovative”, I sit down and say “I’m gonna do what I feel appropriate”. In terms of the form of the work and the style of the language, I don’t think what I do is necessarily a new, radical form of authorship, I think if there is a way in which I relate to it, it’s in whether I feel ownership of that text, and I do feel responsibility for that text, because it is my responsibility to have found the words and the language for those ideas.
Authorship for me is responsibility for a part of process of having a conversation in a room and it is hard to separate the concept of authorship with ego. The concept makes me feel uncomfortable because it is bounded with the concept of wanting to be recognised. It would be interesting if all plays, just for a year, were anonymous. Theatre marketing departments would shit themselves, but it would be interesting. I think people would take more risk because they wouldn’t write what they think the world expect from them.

Read also the interview with Miet Warlop.

Exberliner is partner of the Theatertreffen-blog.

Photo: Bruno Simao

„Zement" im Sony Center

Am 9., 10., und 11. Mai fanden Public Viewings im Sony Center am Potsdamer Platz statt. Aufnahmen von drei Aufführungen des Theatertreffens wurden hier noch einmal gezeigt.  Unsere Gastbloggerin Dorothy Siegl hat sich das Public Viewing von „Zement” angesehen und dazu gezeichnet.  Mehr Skizzen von Dorothy Siegl sind hier, hier und hier zu finden. 

 

Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.
Dorothy Siegl: Im Sony Center.

Die Liegestühle sind grün, rot und weiß gestreift. Ein riesiges rotes Sitzkissen in der ersten Reihe. Es ist alles belegt. Die Leute hören zu, es gibt keine störenden Geräusche. Das normale Touristenpublikum zieht rücksichtsvoll vorbei. Ab und zu steht jemand auf, ein anderer nimmt den Platz ein. Die Akustik ist gut, das Bild mittelmäßig, aber die Atmosphäre kommt rüber. Die Geräusche unter dem großen Zelt mischen sich zu einem Teppich, der den Ton der Aufführung untermalt.

"Multiculti Europudding"?

Leibold
“Watching habits can be changed”… Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl

Trendy? Unavoidable? Difficult? As a foreigner living in Berlin, I was obviously curious to hear the Sunday talk about the “internationalization of theatre” – and all the more disappointed because it missed its point. Notably because it lacked a clear definition of both key-terms, “internationalization” and “theatre”.

Let’s start with “internationalization”. What does that mean? Is “internationalization” letting a renowned Dutch director take over the Münchner Kammerspiele? Inviting foreign actors to speak German with a funny accent or show their particular Italian way of moving onstage? Dealing with international issues? Or taking into consideration the growing percentage of “non-bio” Germans living in German cities while working on theatre productions?

Regarding the talk’s participants, moderator Tobi Müller reduced the problematic to the hip trend of German municipal theaters inviting foreign directors to make obscure pieces, engaging foreign actors speaking their own kind of German, letting foreign directors be their boss. A living specimen was present, the acclaimed Münchner Kammerspiele’s Dutch director Johan Simons – whom it nevertheless took two years to start being recognized in the city, as affirmed by Munich theatre critic Christoph Leibold. The discussion quickly lead to an appeal for patience (maybe you don’t understand them straight away, but if you wait it can bring interesting interactions) and substance (“It’s not only about producing some ‘multiculti Europudding’, it needs content”, stated Rita Thiele, Chief Dramaturge at the Hamburger Schauspielhaus, recalling a disappointing experience with a weak German-Hungarian project). And Johan Simons had plenty of anecdotes to tell about the cultural shock that expected him when he started to work in this huge theatre house in Munich, where everything is discussed everyday in never-ending meetings, which leads to every little problem being interpreted as a huge catastrophe. “The word catastrophe belongs to the third world!”, he rebelled. And never heard the word “catastrophe” again.

Johan Simons. Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl
Johan Simons. Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl

But you can also understand “internationalization” differently, considering you don’t need to go abroad to find foreigners. Is making a piece with a foreign artist living in Germany still “internationalization”? More tricky: is working with “non-bio” Germans, meaning Germans with foreign origins, but born in Germany, still “internationalization”? That’s how Rita Thiele, Chief Dramaturge at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, understood it. “Cities are getting more and more international, all you need is to open the theatre to your city. It is not about an international directors-circus, the internationalization is to be found in the streets.”

Before working at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Rita Thiele was leading the theatre in Köln, where she tried to internationalize the actors’ ensemble by bringing quotas (!): if 30% of the population has foreign origins, so should 30% of the actors. It ended up being a contra-productive disaster, because they couldn’t find “non-bio” German actors to fill the quotes and had to search them in theatre schools – where they obviously found beginners, whom they couldn’t give leading roles, and the “non-bios” ended up playing the servants and chauffeurs… Embarrassing. Now that she works in Hamburg she won’t repeat the same mistake: no quota anymore. Still they have one Japanese actress and one British actress in the ensemble. If that is representative of the “internationalization” going on in the streets is another question.

At this point I would have expected a reflection upon the – sadly unique – case of the Gorki municipal theatre, whose new team, lead by Shermin Langhoff, founded a theatre ensemble where a majority of “non-bios” play Chekhov, Gorky and Büchner and search for new connections between those classical texts and today’s multicultural Berlin. No one from the Gorki Theatre was there – not invited? Oh, but none of their production was invited to the Theatertreffen – not yet in the club?

"You have money and it's good like that". Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl
“You have money and it’s good like that”. Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl

The term “theatre” is also problematic. What kind of theatre are we talking about? Obviously the only valid theatre at the Theatertreffen, made by the “state and municipal theaters” (Staat- und Stadttheater) this great German structure the whole world envy: a well-funded big theatre in every city, producing repertoire pieces with a permanent ensemble within permanent structures you don’t have to fight for every couple of months. Johan Simons is right, there is a huge potential within this opulent structures to open the doors, they have enough money for that. But they are not alone. And the internationalization takes place elsewhere in the first place. As always, the Theatertreffen completely ignores the “other” German theatre, the so-called “Freie Szene”, the independent theaters. Where the “internationalization” is a daily reality. Where theatre-makers constantly collaborate with foreign artists, based or non-based in Germany, be it for the structural reason of diversifying their funding resources.

And I had to wonder: how can you think the theatre’s internationalization if you don’t consider the structures who participate the most? If we take the Berlin’s case – where can you see “internationalized” theatre? In venues like the HAU, the Sophiensaele or the Theaterdiscounter, not mentioning the Ballhaus Naunynstraße or the English Theatre Berlin. The Mousonturm in Frankfurt, the Kampnagel in Hamburg. Apparently they also are not part of the Theatertreffen’s club allowed to speak about today’s theatre.

All in all, clarifying what “internationalization of theatre” is about would certainly have lead further than this rather harmless exchange of anecdotes recalling again how fascinating it is to hear a foreign accent or how difficult it is to stay curious.

Exberliner is partner of the Theatertreffen-blog.

The talk's audience. Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl
The talk’s audience. Live sketch: Dorothy Siegl

„International ist angesagt" – Ein Schaubild

Am Sonntag Nachmittag fand ein Gespräch zum Thema „Chancen und Risiken der Internationalisierung des Theaters” statt.
Es diskutierten zwei Jury-Mitglieder, (Christoph Leibold,  Andreas Wilink), Johann Simons (Intendant Münchner Kammerspiele) und Rita Thiele (Chefdramaturgin deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg) miteinander, moderiert hat Tobi Müller. Unsere Gast-Zeichnerin Dorothy Siegl und TT-Bloggerin Nathalie Frank haben eine graphische Kurzerzählung davon gemacht.
Sehen Sie auch die Videomitschnitte aus der Camp#-Clipreihe und einen Text von Nathalie Frank zum Thema.

GESPRAECH INTERNATIONALISIERUNG

Miet Warlop: “I like to make the invisible visible”

Miet Warlop (Belgium) received the Young Theatre Award for her graduation work at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent; since then she has mainly developed performing arts works. She was chosen by Katie Mitchell to present her 2012 piece “Mystery Magnet” at the Stückemarkt, a colourful parade with living tables, pairs of trousers, and cardboard boxes. We chatted on the phone as she was in Paris presenting the piece a month ago.

Nathalie Frank: In the centre of “Mystery Magnet” there is a fat guy…
Miet Warlop: The “fatty” is the character who consumed the whole world. All the other things are happening for him, in his head. I wanted to make a very generous work, with a lot of ideas and problems and beauty. He consumed the world, like we consume art, seduction, desire, aggression…it is presented to him in a kind of flood of situations, ideas, and metaphors. In „Mystery Magnet“ there is a front and a backstage like there is the front and the back of your tongue, things you say out loud and things you hold for yourself, or the place where the production of an idea is made. In „Mystery Magnet“ we open the back-wall so the audience can have a glimpse into the place where we make the magic they are looking at when the wall is closed. In this sense I like to make the invisible visible.

NF: How did you develop the piece? Do you have the images in mind or do you create them in dialogue with the performers during the rehearsal?
MW: In a sense, I don’t really develop the piece with the performers. Of course, with the “fatty”, who is the reason why everybody is on stage, we talked a lot – about what it is, for him, to just sit there. He is a kind of sculpted body, a very thin guy in a very fat costume, we had to think about his journey and how he interprets all the things that are happening to him on stage.
A lot happens before the editing process. I only work for half days with the performers, the rest of the day we are working on costumes, objects and actions. I do kind of a shopping out of everything we tried out.

NF: Who are your performers?
MW: There are three dancers, two actors, my two assistants and me. It starts with me in my atelier, then I work with one assistant on the costumes and shaping the characters, after I work with another assistant for bricolage tricks on a large scale: together with him we developed the wall, which is actually a large special effect vehicle. On stage we are all together, completely involved – because half of the piece is doing stuff like something explodes or you have to push this button or that is flipping over… So there is a lot of work to do behind the wall.
I’m always performing in my pieces. I think it’s very important that I know my work from the inside, and I also believe in the energy of the group.. It’s part of the work. Together we run the stage. The fact that I cannot work on paper makes me draw with them in the space and so together we hold the brush.

NF: You studied visual arts – how did you come to the theatre?
MW: I’m trained as a visual artist. I graduated with 7 tableau vivants presented like billiard tables, rather sculpted moments than objects. This project became a success and they gave me a theatre price for it and that’s how I ended up in the theatre. At some point I decided that my moments and things, my objects and costumes need action because they have to transform, I need dynamics in the stillness like you have the diptych in painting.

NF: This year’s Stückemarkt focuses on “new models of authorship” – to what extend do you feel representative?
MW: I think I’m representative to some extend, and now somebody who just graduated can already react on, for example, my work with another proposal. My work is not so different from other things in development, we are part of a stream and I’m really grateful I can be a recognized pearl in that chain. At the same time I find it super that Katie Mitchell selected me for the reasons I like to be representative for… How she looks at it is exactly where I’m looking for. Because apparently people can also like your work for the wrong reasons.

Tip: “Mystery Magnet” is completely sold out but if you want to get an idea you can watch the video from the Göteborgs Dans & Teater festival 2012.

Exberliner is partner of the Theatertreffen-blog

Photo: Bea Borgers, Kunstenfestivaldesarts

Theatre without borders

As part of the Berliner Festspiele’s annual Theatertreffen festival, the Stückemarkt invites three unconventional theatre makers to examine broader forms of authorship and creative processes.

While Theatertreffen’s main programme focuses on theatre from the German-speaking world, the Stückemarkt showcases new theatre authors from across Europe. This year’s selections go beyond playwright to work outside clearly defined theatre categories, Mona el Gammal, Chris Thorpe and Miet Warlop were chosen by acclaimed theatremakers Katie Mitchell, Signa Köstler and Simon Stephens to present their work.

Creating unique “narrative spaces”, Mona el Gammal (Germany) won the Cologne Theatre Prize for “Haus//Nummer/Null”. She works with renowned performance groups such as La Fura dels Baus and Signa.
Author and performer Chris Thorpe (UK) has collaborated with Unlimited Theatre, Third Angel and the BBC; now, together with director Sam Pritchard, he presents “There Has Possibly Been An Incident”, which premiered at the Latitude Festival in July of last year.
Miet Warlop (Belgium) received the Young Theatre Award for her graduation work at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent; since then she has developed works for the Campo festival and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts. She comes to Theatertreffen with her 2012 piece “Mystery Magnet”.

Working beyond disciplines

When it comes to financing a new project, strict categories still prevail. However, they no longer apply to mixed artistic forms. Coming from the visual arts, Warlop started doing theatre as she felt the need to bring her tableaux vivants to life: “At some point I decided that my moments and things, my objects and costumes need action because they have to transform”, she explains. Thorpe writes and performs at the same time.

And El Gammal’s work, somewhere between scenography, theatre and visual arts, doesn’t really fit any existing notion: in fact, her Professor Penelope Wehrli invented the term “narrative space” as an assignment. “I was immediately extremely enthusiastic,” El Gammal recalls.
Her spaces literally tell a story, with the help of numerous visual details, texts and sounds: “It’s a bit like being in a book, but in a room, and it’s not linear: the spectator has many different options to explore the story by exploring the space.” She has never met anyone else doing explicitly narrative spaces, but says, “The world is big, there might be other people doing that. I’d be glad to visit one.”

Individuals vs. collectives

Although developed collectively, the selected projects did begin individually. The starting point for “Haus//Nummer/Null” was El Gammal’s wish to create a futuristic dystopia – a world that she imagined first with her co-author Juri Padel, then with various sound, light, video, graphic and internet designers. “In that sense it’s really a collective process. But I have the artistic responsibility on the whole thing.” Warlop didn’t really develop her piece with her performers but imagined it herself, from set to costumes to character interactions, long before rehearsal began. “A lot happens before the editing process. I only work for half days with the performers, the rest of the day we are working on costumes, objects and actions. I do kind of a shopping out of everything we tried out.”
The collective part of the work takes place onstage: “I’m always performing in my pieces. I think it’s very important that I know my work from the inside, and I also believe in the energy of the group.. It’s part of the work. Together we run the stage.”

Thorpe re-centres the very idea of authorship, based on his playwright experience: “Authorship for me is responsibility for a part of the process of having a conversation in a room. However,” he adds, “it’s hard to separate the concept of authorship with ego, with the wish to be recognised. It would certainly be interesting if all plays, just for a year, were anonymous.”

Photo: Reinout Hiel

Die Berliner Zeitung ist Partner des Theatertreffen-Blogs.

Exberliner is partner of the Theatertreffen-blog

Alain Platel's comeback: tauberbach. An interview.

Ten years after his first invitation with “Wolf”, Belgian choreographer Alain Platel is back at the Theatertreffen with his newest work “tauberbach”. This piece is inspired by “Estamira”, a documentary by Marcos Prado starring a schizophrenic woman in a Brazilian slum, and includes recordings, made by artist Artur Zmijewski, of death people interpreting Bach music.

Nathalie Frank: What brought you to Estamira ?
Alain Platel: I saw this documentary about her 8 years ago, and I immediately liked Estamira. I had her character in mind and I used to show it, once in a while, to dancers, hopping that something happens. When Elsie [De Brauw, the actress playing Estamira] asked me if we could work together, I thought that Estamira could be an inspiring character for her.

NF: So it’s Elsie who came to you ?
AP: Yes. She works in Gent as well, I had seen her several times in theatre pieces and I visited her as well during rehearsals at the conservatory next to our studio where she works. At some point she said she would like to make a piece with dancers – so yes, the first impulse came from her.

NF: How did you integrate an actress to your group of dancers ?
AP: That’s a question many people ask me, but in fact I’ve always worked with different kinds of people, with actors, dancers, professional, non-professionals, children… So it’s not that extraordinary for me to work with an actress. What is extraordinary is the encounter with Elsie, that is unique. In the first months, as usual, we did work a lot with improvisation and different inspiration quotes and then at some point we knew what we are talking about. “Estamira”, one of the starting points, ended helping telling a story. And the result is not that much a story of an actress among dancers but the story of six characters trying to live and survive their life.

NF: The piece is about survival and dignity…
AP: As I don’t have a ‘professional’ past [Alain Platel used to be a special needs teacher] my driving force, when I make dance and theatre, is to search how you can make a piece that says something about the world we live in. In my first works it was still surreal, abstract, but little by little it became the most important. I don’t mean to make clear messages but I want to show something about the people. I believe that in “tauberbach”, where the poverty is very visible, it is essentially a metaphor to show people trying, in a difficult situation, to express a joie de vivre.

NF: Why did you chose to use Bach’s music sung by death people in this piece ?
AP: The first time I’ve listened to that music, it made a deep impression on me. I wanted to use this music one day but I had to find the right moment because somehow it embarrassed me as well. This time, as we were rehearsing, I felt that it was the right moment. Bach has always been a great inspiration for me since I make pieces, and this very unique recording is an interpretation of Bach that I love. I’ve always believed this composer wrote a very sentimental and emotional music, rather than a mathematical one.

NF: tauberbach premiered in January. How do your feelings toward the piece develop with time ?
AP: I felt before the premiere already that I really like this piece. But I couldn’t describe or explain it. Now with the piece being analysed or discussed with the audience I can express myself a bit better, but not yet really well. Because a piece is something that happens in real, with this tension between what is going on onstage and within the audience – writing or analyzing that is much more difficult.

This interview was made on the phone for the March issue of Berlin Poche

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Photo: Julian Röder