Haltung, meine Herren!

Ferner Osten, Balkan, China, Polen und eine nostalgische Post-DDR – die Settings der diesjährigen „Stückemarkt“-Texte machen Hoffnung auf große Themen. Doch leider sind die Stücke oft Mogelpackungen.

Die Frage schwebte fast bedrohlich im Raum. „Wie politisch sind denn Ihre Texte?“, wagte eine Zuschauerin am ersten Stückemarkt-Autorentisch zu fragen. Stückemarkt-Leiterin Yvonne Büdenhölzer hatte sich zuvor alle Mühe gegeben, die interessanten persönlichen Hintergründe der anwesenden Jungherren-Runde aufzuzählen und so die Autoren in einem politischen Kontext zu verorten: Konradin Kunze war gerade frisch aus Indien zurückgekehrt, wo er staatliche Willkür hautnah zu spüren bekommen hatte; bei Dmitrij Gawrisch, einem in der Schweiz lebenden Ukrainer, schwingt schon im Namen die Ausländerproblematik mit, und Mario Salazar erzählte, wie sein Vater einst in Chile gegen Salvador Allende putschte und als Landesverräter in der DDR landete. Nur: In Salazars Stück „Alles Gold was glänzt“ kennen die Figuren das Wort „Aufstand“ im besten Fall aus dem Fernsehen; Gawrisch dementierte mit „Meine Eltern sind Diplomaten“ gleich alle Vermutungen, die ihn in die Ecke „Ausländer mit Flüchtlingsvergangenheit“ drängten, und Konradin Kunze blieb von allen am deutlichsten undeutlich: „Nein, ich möchte in meinen Stücken keine politische Haltung vertreten.“ (mehr …)


Stückemarkt


All Horse

I had the honor of meeting and speaking with Halito (16 years old, Arabian), a horse who has often appeared on stage and screen, by now cutting a familiar figure in the Berlin theater-going community. Halito played a small but stirring role in tonight’s staged reading of Mario Salazar’s „Alles Gold was Glänzt“ (All That Glitters), the fifth and final play of this year’s Stückemarkt. „Alles Gold“ won the Hörspielpreis at the 2011 Stückemarkt, and will be produced as a radio play in the spring of 2012 (off the record: Halito is playing coy about his ongoing negotiations for an expanded speaking part in this upcoming version).

Though Halito is quite voluble, your knowledge of ‚horse‘ might not be quite sophisticated enough to follow all his answers to my questions in the video included here, so I have included a transcript of our conversation after the jump.

Interview with Halito the Horse, by Anna Deibele from theatertreffen-blog on Vimeo.

(mehr …)


Die Gewinner des Stückemarkts sind …

Juri Sternburg (Förderpreis für neue Dramatik), Anne Lepper (Werkauftrag) und Mario Salazar (Hörspielpreis)! Alle drei Preisgekrönten waren bei der Verleihung so verdattert, dass sie, sonst so sprachgewaltig, kaum einen Satz über die Lippen brachten. (mehr …)


Alles Gold was glänzt * Mario Salazar


Staging the gender imbalance: women in theater

From the theme of the Talentetreffen, to a women-in-directing exhibit, to yesterday’s „Feminism: Today a Dirty Word?“ discussion and more, gender has been a big topic at this year’s Theatertreffen. As the Theatertreffen Stückemarkt prepares to wrap up tonight with the awarding of the 2011 playwriting prizes, which include cash for the author and a production of the winning play, there are numbers that beg the question: what is the Theatertreffen as a whole really doing to contribute meaningfully to the gender debate – other than just talking about it?

We’re thrilled to see a debate happening on the blog – over a sexist-or-maybe-not-remark from director Herbert Fritsch, invited twice to the Theatertreffen this year, and both times with a play centered on a strong female character (in the case of A Doll’s House, one of the strongest female characters in the dramatic canon). For you non-German speakers, it boils down to a little something like: Fritsch says he likes a woman who’s a „Luder“ (hard to translate but suggestions include „hussy,“ „minx,“ or my personal favorite, „a sly cow“). Some folks find this sexist and unacceptable for a theater director because of the way that implies he interprets female characters onstage, others find it to be a mere personal preference and therefore don’t see the harm in it, still others seem to be worrying about how the actresses themselves must feel having to act out Fritsch’s female caricatures for an audience.

Personally, I’m inclined to say Fritsch can go ahead and show whatever he wants onstage – as long as there’s room left for other perspectives to be shown. It shouldn’t be a problem for him to tell a story the way he wants to tell it – as long as other stories are getting their chance to be told.

And in theory, everybody gets to tell their story. But there’s a big gap here between theory and practice.

The „post-migrant theater“ movement represents one part of the population not getting its proportional share of stage time. Yet there is another group whose presence in the theater world is far smaller than it is in the real world, whose voice is not being heard, whose perspective isn’t being seen. So let’s look at it through some numbers, because after all, numbers are neutral, aren’t they?

(mehr …)


Bildungsproletariat

"der penner ist jetzt schon wieder woanders" von Juri Sternburg mit Igor (Jörg Pohl), Gott (Michael Schweighöfer) und Andrej (Mirco Kreibich). Foto: Piero Chiussi

Die Frage „Was wollte uns der Autor damit sagen?“ interessiert heute keinen mehr. Fragen wir lieber den Text. Das Stückemarkt-Stück Nummer IV „der penner ist jetzt schon wieder woanders“ von Juri Sternburg war zu einem Gespräch bereit – natürlich schriftlich.

Fadrina: Dein voller Name „der penner ist jetzt schon wieder woanders“ ist ganz schön lang. Darf ich dich der Einfachheit halber einfach „penner“ nennen?

„der penner“: ja klar. kann ich dafür in kleinbuchstaben antworten?

Fadrina: Natürlich. Ist es ok, wenn wir uns duzen?

„der penner“: sicher. ich bin ja im nächtlichen kreuzberg unterwegs, da siezt man sich sowieso nicht. und geboren bin ich in goa (oder sagt man auf goa?) in indien. das klingt jetzt kitschig, aber ich bin wirklich auf einem felsen am meer einfach aus der feder geflossen, da gabs keine krämpfe, keine geburtswehen.

Fadrina: Klingt idyllisch. Das würde man gar nicht glauben, wenn man dich liest. Du bist ja teilweise ganz schön aggressiv.

Interview mit einem Text. Foto: Fadrina Arpagaus

„der penner“: ja, andrej und igor, meine zwei ichs, treiben dunkle fragen an. aber sie haben auch witz, einen brutalen humor, und diese seite mag ich an mir am liebsten. juri, mein autor, ist ständig im berliner nachtleben unterwegs, er arbeitet als barkeeper im „king kong club“. da kommt einiges an absurden situationen zusammen.

Fadrina: Wie ist denn die Beziehung zu deinem Autor Juri Sternburg?

„der penner“: juri ist super. wir verstehen uns wirklich gut, das liegt vielleicht auch daran, dass ich eines seiner ersten kinder bin. ich habe zwar noch ein paar geschwister, die als hörspiele arbeiten, und eine menge halbgeschwister, alles kolumnen bei der taz, aber in stückform bin ich juris erstling. (mehr …)


Konradin Kunze auf Skype

Stefan Konarske as young journalist and Seyneb Saleh as the daughter of the hotel porter in Konradin Kunze's "foreign angst". Foto: Piero Chiussi

In foreign angst, Stückemarkt playwright Konradin Kunze sets a German sort-of journalist in a sort-of Arabic country, war-torn and rundown and, simply put, not the way Kunze’s protagonist imagined it. The play explores the German „Angst“ (fear) of what’s strange to us, but Kunze says you can pronounce the title any way you like – although an English „foreign“ and German „Angst“ fits the piece’s multilingual leanings. After the reading of his play I talked with Kunze via Skype, that faithful friend that so often accompanies us when we travel far from home.

Warning: German ahead!

Konradin Kunze Interview from theatertreffen-blog on Vimeo.

Below are some tidbits about Kunze and his work that didn’t fit into our Skype interview. (mehr …)


Der Penner ist jetzt schon wieder woanders * Juri Sternburg


Foreign Angst * Konradin Kunze


SKYDIVING BLINDFOLDED

Or Five Things I Learned From Sebastian Nübling

Keynote Speech at the opening of Stückemarkt 2011 on 8th May 2011 at Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

The British playwright Simon Stephens. Photo: Piero Chiussi

I have to confess something rather embarrassing. The title of this lecture is SKYDIVING BLINDFOLDED. I’m sure there are some people who are speculating as to why I’ve decided to call this lecture by that name. In what way is it to be an exploration of the suicidal or the daredevil? The unsighted and the insane? I have to confess that I don’t really exactly know why myself. All I can say is that it was suggested to me that I deliver a lecture with the title “Infinite Diversity in New European Writing”. The idea filled me with an odd mix of boredom and horror. So I invented a new title quickly without really knowing what it meant. So it doesn’t mean anything. So don’t expect me to explain why this lecture is called SKYDIVING BLINDFOLDED. Because I won’t. Because I don’t know why myself.

I gave it a sub-title yesterday which is more thematically relevant and which will form the body of the talk. The sub-title is FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM SEBASTIAN NÜBLING. For those of you who don’t know, Sebastian is a German theatre director based in Basel in Switzerland. He directed the first German language production of any of my plays in 2003, has directed three other productions since and opens a fifth this Autumn in Tallinn and Munich. He’s taught me a lot of things over the seven years of our collaboration. I’m going to share five of them with you. In a bit. (mehr …)


U – S – A!

A German, a Pole, a Romanian, and an Englishman sit down for a discussion in front of an audience in Berlin.

From left to right: Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk, Peca Ştefan and Simon Stephens. Foto von Piero Chiussi.

What language do they speak? English, of course. I don’t imagine that you had to guess.

“How embarrassing. This is the nature of colonialism. But at least I can blame America!”

British playwright Simon Stephens (Christmas, Pornography, The Trial of Ubu, and quoted above) gave the keynote address at the opening of the 30th Theatertreffen Stückemarkt (play market) this afternoon. Though he’s widely produced internationally, especially in Germany, he can’t speak any languages other than his imperialist own. Luckily, everybody speaks passable English and they’re willing to humor him (and the rest of us Anglophones). Even though the German, Pole, and Romanian playwrights also on stage – Stefan Schmidtke, Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk (2011 Stückemarkt invitee), and Peca Ştefan (2010 invitee) – are perhaps more comfortable with Russian.

I, for one, am glad not to have to learn Russian to get around in the world. „U – S – A!“ But back to the keynote address.

Stephens has learned five things by having his plays staged in Germany by director Sebastian Nübling, watching his crafted dialog disappear into incomprehensible babble. You can read about these five points in his speech, posted here (preview: the German theater „may be loosely defined as swimming in a surprising amount of both blood and sperm.“)

Addressing the necessity of international productions for playwrights, to close the debate that followed his speech, Stephens said, “What we do as writers is try to tell a story that helps us to understand ourselves and our relationship to society. When I travel, the world shifts. And I try to bring that into my plays.” His advice to young playwrights is to travel and to think like a soccer/football player: Don’t think too far ahead. Just pass the play, take the shot. “If you think about your career, you’re fucked. All you can do is write your next play, make the next line as good as possible.”

And try to get your work translated into English, of course.


Write a Play, Practice Remembrance

Mayor BEFORE and AFTER (Tilo Nest), Miss Beautiful (Jenny Schily), Mayor of New York (Bernd Moss). Photo: Piero Chiussi

I sat down for a short discussion with Polish playwright Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk after the staged reading of her play Burmistrz, The Mayor.

Shifting around in time (the title character appears as both the Mayor Before and After), The Mayor explores the costs of remembrance and the costs of willful forgetting in a small town in Poland. One character, the Penitent German, has become paralyzed by the weight of his father’s murders around his neck. A chorus of young Polish townspeople on the other hand, though proud of their historical monument (a monument apparently without memorial function), have no interest in discovering the roles their fathers played in the massacre of the town’s Jewish population during World War II—much less in taking on the associated guilt. After visits by the Mother of God and the Mayor of New York, the Mayor of this Polish town tries discover the truth. But his constituents ironically bury him under the town’s memorial. The Mayor was translated into German and English for the Stückemarkt, and is available at the Goethe-Institut’s Theatre Library.

What was the process of preparing your play, The Mayor, for this staged reading?

It wasn’t a long process. The director, Nina Gühlstorff, and I discussed the whole story via emails beforehand. Then I attended the rehearsal in the afternoon, watched the whole play, and spoke with Nina.

What was it like seeing The Mayor in German, a language you don’t speak?

It was actually quite a privilege not to understand the language at all. I could relax because had no idea how the audience was reacting, whether they liked it at all!

Your play revolves around the mayor of a small town in Poland, who works to remember a town’s horrible past. How did you create this figure?

There’s actually a real mayor I read about in the newspaper. In his town during World War II, perhaps inspired by the German army, people murdered their Jewish neighbors. The President of Poland was invited to a big commemoration of the massacre in 2001, but the mayor was the only one trying to discover the truth, that Polish people had committed these crimes. He was the only one who put the truth above the self-image of Poland: we were always the victims, not the murderers. The mayor was dismissed from his post, and he moved to Chicago and changed his name so as not to be recognized by the Polish community there. I wanted to say thank you to him with this play.

How do you personally practice remembrance?

I write a play.

Playwright Sikorska-Miszuk (centre) Photo: Piero Chiussi

 


Burmistrz – Der Bürgermeister * Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk


Brachland * Dmitrij Gawrisch