The selection 2014

The Theatertreffen team congratulates all the directors, companies and theatres invited!
Till May - we look forward to seeing you then!

Yvonne Büdenhölzer
Theatertreffen Director

Amphitryon und sein Doppelgänger (Amphitryon and his doppelganger)

Based on Heinrich von Kleist
Directed by Karin Henkel
Schauspielhaus Zürich
Premiere 27 September 2013

Who would risk establishing an I these days? In the era of multiple selves, director Karin Henkel demonstrates how Kleist’s material can be treated today: As a game of layers, like those of an onion, but at the end there is – not the core, but the capitulation: “Oh!” A two-storied stage, endless loops of text, the audience held prisoner to the idea of presenting identity as a maze. Everybody could just as well be someone else, and all this is accomplished with a precise rhythm, Kleist’s blank verse performed with great lightness. Karin Henkel narrates the remake of a remake, the doubling of a doppelganger story. Who is who? In the end, not even the king of gods can tell anymore. The actors can make no sense of themselves or the world. “I am”, says modern man, says Amphitryon, “crazy myself.” The director works with irresistible visual humour in the style of the film noir, with simultaneously performed scenes, rapid role changes, all revealing Kleist’s universe to be a world full of paradoxes, fears and tragic conflict.

Die Geschichte von Kaspar Hauser (The story of Kaspar Hauser)

By Carola Dürr and the company, based on original documents and quotes by Kaspar Hauser, Georg Friedrich Daumer, Jakob Wassermann, Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, Werner Herzog et al.
Directed by Alvis Hermanis
Schauspielhaus Zürich
Premiere 16 February 2013

A foundling’s speechlessness, his arrival in civilisation – hardly any other historical character has fascinated scientists, criminal investigators and artists in equal measure. Alvis Hermanis’ treatment of the story starts at zero point and reveals the domestication of human nature through pedagogic practices. Hermanis responds to this true crime story with a nightmarish reinvention of puppetry. The production’s outstanding feature: The protagonists appear as a Biedermeier society in miniature, played by children who are in turn steered by shadowy actors. In the midst of this doll’s house, Kaspar appears like an ungainly foreign element. Is it worth his while to become part of this artificiality, to become “human”, the man-child wonders, while the children, dolled up as old people, force their notions of morality and culture upon him. When Hermanis assembles the children to form a string orchestra that scratches out a Viennese waltz, this makes for a superb final scene: Here is refined society - a pitifully screeching cacophony.

Die letzten Zeugen (The final witnesses)

A project by Doron Rabinovici and Matthias Hartmann
Burgtheater, Vienna
Premiere 20 October 2013

Six Holocaust-survivors are seated on stage, in silence, behind a transparent curtain. Their only seemingly expressionless faces are projected on to the screen, while four younger actors read the stories of their lives and suffering. Photos from 1930s Vienna appear: masses of people cheering the Nazis, images from the camps, showing dead bodies and lost individuals; finally – scenes of the liberation. The men and women are between 80 and 100 years old. After their story has been told, they come to the front of the stage and deliver a very personal message. All this is staged with great delicacy, avoiding theatre effects and garnish; it is narrative in the best meaning of the word – and so avoids any dutiful contortions of memory combined with an automatic dismay. “The final witnesses” is a powerful yet fragile (theatre) document.

Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt (Purgatory in Ingolstadt)

By Marieluise Fleißer
Directed by Susanne Kennedy
Münchner Kammerspiele
Premiere 8 February 2013

Theatre on full playback. Sounds ghastly. And it is. But not in an aesthetic sense of the word. Susanne Kennedy’s production is at the height of scary art. Most ghastly of all is the way she portrays the deformation of souls. Kennedy places Fleißer’s characters in an oppressively tight space, flickering with stark neon lights, and then projects this space back onto itself. The walls begin to tremble and the room takes on a life of its own. Fleißer’s purgatory as a feverish dream, where people mutate into zombies. Their jumpers are too tight, their dresses too skimpy and their trousers too short. Their faces seem to be made of wax. Their language has come away from their cramped bodies. It takes the audience a while to catch on: All the dialogue has been recorded, recited in an affected tone, and the actors are lip-synching. The production comes across as an unsettling installation. Who would have thought that Marieluise Fleißer’s classic work of critical folk theatre could still be so perturbing today?

Ohne Titel Nr. 1 // Eine Oper von Herbert Fritsch (Untitled No. 1 // An Opera by Herbert Fritsch)

Directed by Herbert Fritsch
Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
World premiere 22 January 2014

A squeaky wooden tone throws the orchestra and its conductor Ingo Günther for a loop. But then they start making their sounds, with crinkled-up cellophane, electric guitars, percussion, recorders or a triangle. They tinkle, clunk, cha-cha and rattle. A 1950s saloon orchestra, decked up as for a revue. The twelve performers are lounging on a settee – this thing from another (art) planet. They are resilient and refractory, like their inventor Herbert Fritsch. The only prop is this couch of so much more than human scale. The fidgeting creatures are sitting on it, hanging from it, stuck to it, they push off from it or crack their skulls on it. Fritsch, son of nonsense and primal creator of chaos, offspring of Chaplin, Valentin and Vaudeville, deploys his actors like mechanical bodies. This is captivatingly puzzled out, organized and staged: Nonsense, yes, but certainly not stupid. These children of buffoonery are certainly no conformists; they are original sex maniacs and players, driven by the directions of the music and of Fritsch, this worker of theatre-miracles.

Advance ticket sales for the performance in May from 1 April.

Onkel Wanja (Uncle Vanja)

By Anton Chekhov
Directed by Robert Borgmann
Schauspiel Stuttgart
Premiere 27 October 2013

A jacked-up estate car circles the stage like a gigantic clock’s laboriously dragging minute hand. Robert Borgmann suggests lethargy and paralyzing heat through chirping crickets and a suggestive sound carpet. He shows no fear of deceleration, but never risks becoming boring; He takes his time to let things develop – subtly, yet substantially. Peter Kurth plays a grumpy but not embittered Vanya who has resigned himself to living out his blighted life with decency. But then, an attractive woman is put right under his nose, in the form of Elena, the very young wife of a professor. His spirits are revived. And so is his disgust at his life. How the entire fabric of relationships at this Russian country estate comes apart, how sadness turns into depression and inertia into aggression – Borgmann describes it all entirely without sentimentality. And yet his look at Chekov’s characters doesn’t lack empathy. An astonishingly dynamic portrayal of stagnation.

Reise ans Ende der Nacht (Journey to the end of the night)

By Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Directed by Frank Castorf
Residenztheater, Munich
Premiere 31 October 2013

With its furious nihilism and raggedly aggressive language, Céline’s novel is a shock. Castorf’s production takes on these shock effects, it is the antithesis to inflationary stage adaptations of novels which confuse literature with its plots. He deals with the novel just as Céline deals with reality – through associations. The production’s flickering images, the stylistic device of overheating hysteria, Castorf’s lack of interest in any kind of orderly economy of narration – in Aleksandar Denić’s set design of corners and angles, all this translates Céline’s narrative style into theatre. Céline’s sentence “One surrenders oneself to noise as much as to war” seems to catapult Ferdinand Bardamu, played clearly and precisely, yet with overheated expressiveness by Bibiana Beglau and Franz Pätzold, through the hells of the early 20th century, through a world war, the crimes of colonialism in Africa and the brutalizing capitalism of the factory. This production constitutes the discovery of an only superficially amoral novel of the century as a text for the theatre.

Situation Rooms

By Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel (Rimini Protokoll)
Directed by Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel
Rimini Apparat / Ruhrtriennale / Schauspielhaus Zürich / Spielart Festival und Münchner Kammerspiele / Perth International Arts Festival / Grande Halle et Parc de la Villette Paris / Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin / Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main / Onassis Cultural Center-Athens
World premiere Bochum 23 August 2013

How can the theatre talk about war? Not about the distant Trojan wars, but about those of today? Rimini Protokoll adopt an entirely new method: They send their audience on an intricate obstacle course, almost as complex as the interconnections of the international arms trade. The world shrinks, not virtually, but quite literally: A trade fair for security technology is only one door away from a hospital tent run by “Doctors without borders” in Sierra Leone. Spectators are steered through the labyrinth by remote control, just like pilots in modern warfare, holding a tablet computer in their hands. Like an ego shooter in a video game, they take on the narrator’s perspective. But: the perspective changes. From arms lobbyist to peace activist, from Syrian refugee to Israeli soldier, from perpetrator to victim. Again and again we encounter other people in this system, all following their own logic. “Situation rooms” renders tangible what usually stays abstract: Every war today is integrated into global economy.


By Alain Platel
Directed by Alain Platel
Münchner Kammerspiele / les ballets C de la B, Gent / NT Gent / Theatre National de Chaillot, Paris / Opéra Lille / KVS Brussels / Torinodanza, Turin / La Batie – Festival de Genève, Geneva
World premiere 17 January 2014

A woman pushes through a mountain of clothes. It is the refuse of the civilization she lives in. She isn’t only fighting this heap of rags; she’s also battling a voice that bullies her. The voice we hear is the voice in her head. The woman, played by Elsie de Brauw, is rebelling against marginalization and self-hatred; She is rough, vulgar and forceful. The other figures, dancers who emerge from the chaos of clothes, help her. But not by protecting her: They challenge her, provoke her and integrate her into their wild games, their rude caresses and their surprising humour. Choreographer Alain Platel doesn’t tell a continuous story; He and his company show us a universe at the edges of our perception, in which the logic of our senses is suspended. Like the music of the deaf singers whose Bach cantatas accompany this evening, beauty, harmony and perfection follow their own laws in this cosmos, developing a power of caritas that is impossible to elude.

Zement (Cement)

By Heiner Müller
Directed by Dimiter Gotscheff
Residenztheater, Munich
Premiere 5 May 2013

On Munich’s posh Maximilianstraße, of all places (or maybe this is just the place for it?), Gotscheff, unflinching and desperate, tells us once again about revolution and about how hard it is to carry out, and even harder to sustain and justify, to learn from. In the end, there can be only failure – or maybe just a spark of hope that not every sacrifice has been in vain. “Old-fashioned” in the best sense of the word, uncompromising in its archaic imagery and painfully clear without any scenic frippery, Gotscheff tells us this story, searching for the visions of the future in the ashes of the past. A utopian dream (and certainly not just the old Russian version) is carried to its grave in a threateningly grey non-space, by extraordinary actors (above all Valery Cheplanova, Bibiana Belgau, Sebastian Blomberg), and at the same time, the dream of betterment and the eternal necessity of changes are invoked. Dimiter Gotscheff’s final production premiered six months before his death.

Berliner Festspiele

Edition No. 14

Patrick Ness
“Every Age I Ever Was” (2014)

Clemens Krauss
“Metabolizing History” (2011-2014)

Available at the
Haus der Berliner Festspiele


Recommend this page:

Print this page:


Video Trailers

of the selected productions


Chronicle 1964-2014

The data base with all productions, theatres and directors since 1964 as well as the Stückemarkt authors.


Fünfzig Theatertreffen


Edited by Berliner Festspiele
Verlag Theater der Zeit