Live-Blog of the “Via Intolleranza II” talkback

Tonight is the last official night of the Theatertreffen, and we are blogging up to the final minute, with the last of our live blogs. Starting at 22:00, you can follow the Via Intolleranza II audience discussion here. I will be sharing the threads the discussion follows and my impressions and reactions – all in the role of an audience member, filling the seat of those of you who can’t be here but wish you could. So get that “refresh” button ready, and please feel welcome to comment (in English or German). And as preparation, read up on Christoph Schlingensief’s opera village.

Via Intolleranza II Mamounata Guira Foto: Yehuda Swed
Mamounata Guira (Performer, Via Intolleranza II). Foto: Yehuda Swed

22:13 The talkback is scheduled to start in two minutes – a little later than planned. The show ran until shortly before 10pm, and it’s our last night to enjoy the garden bonfire, after all…

22:17 Slowly but surely, the audience brings its pretzels and beer upstairs. Maybe they were all busy downstairs at the donations booth, responding to the call for donations to the opera village during the curtain call.

22:19 By the way, I hate to spread stereotypes – but I’m really not kidding about the pretzels and beer.

22:20 Here we go! Curious to see how this plays out, because I know a couple of people on the podium don’t speak German.

22:22 Got it. Wilfried Zoungrana‘s on it.

22:26 A question on the actors from Burkina Faso about the casting in Ougadougu: Why did you want to participate? How did you end up participating? There were 300 people participating – why did you want to take part? Isabelle Tassembedo: “I’ve never acted before, I came because I heard they needed a woman of my age. And as soon as I got there, I realized there was no language barrier. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, I understood him.” (Also, a correction from Tassembedo: “actually, there were 400 participants.”)

22:30 Schlingensief has a convert to the theater through Tassembedo: “I had a lot of fun. I think I’ll keep going.”

Continue reading Live-Blog of the “Via Intolleranza II” talkback

Art is Magic / It Cannot Succeed

From left to right (back): Ahmed Soura; Jean Chaize; Primo; Abdoul Kader Traore; Kandy; Mamounata Guira; Kerstin Grassmann; Issoufou Kienou; Isabelle Tassembedo. Front: Stefa; Wilfried Zoungrana; Jean Marie Gomzoubou Boucougou; Amado Komi. Photo: Aino Laberenz

The man himself finally appears 80 minutes into the 90-minute show, a projection on a curtain of a man standing in front of a projection on a curtain. We’ve heard his emails, even seen footage of him in Africa. And now Christoph Schlingensief stands before us and addresses us directly for the first time, looking almost like a hologram. But is he present?

Schlingensief’s absence has become an almost overpowering aspect of “Via Intolleranza II”, which opened in the Bayerische Staatsoper München in late June of 2010, with Schlingensief himself still able to perform in person with the actors at the end of the evening. It was to be his last production directed to completion, as Schlingensief died just two months later on August 21st at the age of 49, thereby entering the pantheon of German genius artists. But before his lung cancer diagnosis, before his bestselling memoir about the illness, before the sycophantic obituaries, Schlingensief was anything but beloved. He appeared in almost all of his controversial works: assaultive, anarchic, unbalanced, uncategorizable films (“The German Chainsaw Massacre”), stage productions (“Rocky Dutschke ‘68”), and art actions (“Foreigners Out!”). A Schlingensief is not a Schlingensief without the man himself – and knowing he would likely not live out “Via Intolleranza II”’s theatrical run, he wove this paradox into its complex fabric.

Continue reading Art is Magic / It Cannot Succeed


Christoph Schlingensief kündigt sich für heute im Berliner Festspielhaus an – schließlich ist er eingeladen. Doch was zu ihm sagen, falls sich sein Geist materialisiert? Und wie über ihn reden, falls er unsichtbar bleibt?

Für Osama bin Laden galt „tot, lebendig oder photoshopped“, Christoph Schlingensief hingegen hat sich für seinen Auftritt am Theatertreffen noch für keine Form entschieden. Aber schon jetzt ist er da, ohne da zu sein: Er lässt sich vertreten (bei der Pressekonferenz von seiner Frau Aino Laberenz), doubeln (bei den Vorstellungen von Via Intolleranza II) oder jederzeit herbei reden, wenn das „postmigrantische Theater“ und die Jury-Entscheidungen keinen Gesprächsstoff mehr hergeben.

Ob sich sein Geist aber auch wirklich zeigt? Manifestationsmöglichkeiten gäbe es für ihn viele (schließlich sind wir im Theater), zum Beispiel als heiliger Geist oder böser Dämon, Zombie, Phönix oder gar als radioaktive Strahlung. Falls er sich für die Sichtbarkeit entscheidet, müssen wir uns nur noch überlegen, was wir zu ihm sagen – „Lange nicht gesehen“ wirkt zur Begrüßung wohl eher unpassend.

Wahrscheinlicher ist es aber, dass Schlingensief unsichtbar bleibt. Denn seltsamerweise scheinen sich gar nicht mehr so viele für ihn zu interessieren wie vermutet. Continue reading Abwesenheitsnotiz

Quasi-Live-Blog der Pressekonferenz

Herbert Fritsch redet sich hinter den Tulpen hervor. Foto: Yehuda Swed

Baustelle, Haus der Berliner Festspiele. Derzeit staubt es noch hier und da, die Kabel hängen aus der Decke, bis zur Eröffnung des Theatertreffens am Freitag ist alles fertig, frisch renoviert. W-Lan gibt es erst ab morgen, daher stelle ich meine Aufzeichnungen der Pressekonferenz erst nachträglich ins Blog. Fotos folgen.

12:55 Die Stühle für die Pressekonferenz stehen. Ein paar lila Lampignons hängen über den Köpfen der baldigen Verkünder der frohen Theatertreffen-Botschaften.

12:56 Ein erstes Murmeln geht durch den Raum, nachdem sich die Journalisten durch die Baustelle des Theatertreffens gekämpft haben.

12:58 Jagoda Engelbrecht, die Pressechefin der Berliner Festspiele, akkreditiert und busserlt Journalisten.

13:00 Herbert Fritsch, der Star des Theatertreffens, plaudert mit Berliner Festspielleiterin Iris Laufenberg. Er trägt einen grauen Anzug zu einem braunen (!) Hemd. Continue reading Quasi-Live-Blog der Pressekonferenz

The first press conference – live

Live-blogging  (almost – there were some internet problems) the first press conference of Theatertreffen 2011.

All are gathering, getting their swag, drinking some coffee, and flipping through the program books. The contestants today are:

Herbert Fritsch, director of Nora and Biberpelz, two of this year’s invited productions.
Iris Laufenberg, the artistic director of the Theatertreffen.
Aino Laberenz, the costume designer for Via Intolleranza II and widow of Christoph Schlingensief.
Joachim Sartorius, the director of the Berliner Festspiele.

Links bis rechts: Joachim Sartorius, Aino Laberenz, Iris Laufenberg, Joachim Sartorius. Foto Yehuda Swed.

Grete Götze and I are blogging behind the scenes – sitting behind the public on heaters.

Germans are not as always punktlich as we foreigners are led to believe: everybody’s mixing and the press conference doesn’t seem ready to start anytime soon. They may be Germans, but they’re also theatre people…

And here we go! The conference has begun with a lot of promises that the building here, which is currently under major renovations costing €15 million, will actually be ready when the festival officially opens this Friday, the sixth (the Germans had better be punktlich with this). Behind us, outside, the construction crews are working like crazy.

And apparently Sartorius just got back from New York City this morning. I’ve done that flight several times, and I cannot imagine leading a press conference a couple hours after the overnight lands.

Continue reading The first press conference – live