The selection 2015

On 2 February 2015, the jury for the 52nd Theatertreffen announced its selection.

They attended 379 productions in 54  cities in the German-language region. 689 votes were given and each jury member watched between 79 and 128 productions. A total of 36 productions was nominated and discussed.

The Theatertreffen-team would like to congratulate the invited directors, companies and theatres!

Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln (Atlas of Remote Islands)

By Judith Schalansky
Directed by Thom Luz
Schauspiel Hannover
World premiere 21 September 2014

What civilised man misses most on remote islands is music. So he concentrates on the natural rhythms and sounds: the rush of the waves, the crackle of the trees, the song of the wind, the noises made by animals and spirits. That is why for Swiss director and musician Thom Luz, the translation of stories from the isles is a matter of the heart. He allows spirit-like sounds to waft through the open three-storey stairwell of a former museum of local history, and persuades some of the dead from seafaring history to appear as barefoot apostles for Judith Schalansky’s “Atlas of Remote Islands”. To the peculiar strains of brass, strings and drums, these ships’ goblins whisper, breathe and murmur strange tales of treasure hunters, dreamers and defiers of death, who rounded the globe in the search of the virginal moment – until the atom bomb scuttled the desire for paradise and its music with a bang. This is a delicate show, quiet and at times invisible – and that’s what makes it a true theatrical treasure.


By Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Frank Castorf
Residenztheater, Munich
Premiere 15 January 2015

In German theatre, Brecht’s early fantasy about a ruthless libertine who ignores both norms and Norns is usually translated into a sweaty egotist who just wants to have an awesome time. This seemingly individual excess, however, becomes a structural and community-defining feature wherever violence is the rule rather than the exception. Therefore, transposing the story of Baal into the world of the Indochina Wars, as Frank Castorf does in this third part of his war trilogy of poets of violence (following Céline and Malaparte), seems like a brutally logical connection. In brothels and opium dens, while surfing during orgies of napalm and murdering to the sounds of the Stones, the achievements of civilisation dissolve their boundaries with all of Baal’s debauched fury. In Aleksandar Denić’s stacked Vietnam world, including a combat helicopter, pagodas, a waterboarding basement with accompanying propaganda pop and lots of dry ice, Castorf exhausts his company with four and a half hours of excessive reflection on the man-made apocalypse and the current topicality of mental colonialism – a libertinage of content and devices.

The jury: “We hope that this production can be shown in Berlin without restrictions and in the form developed by Frank Castorf, and we trust that the rights holders and the theatre will come to an agreement.”

Common Ground

By Yael Ronen and company
Directed by Yael Ronen
Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
World premiere 14 March 2014

For her research project “Common Ground“, Yael Ronen once again works with her cast’s biographies. They are playing their own family stories, dealing with the Yugoslav War and their lives as actors in Berlin today and as children in the early 1990s – children of perpetrators and of victims alike. Like Jasmina Musić and Mateja Meded: The father of one of them died in a camp where the father of the other was a guard. Together with Yael Ronen, an Israeli living in Berlin, they took a journey to the “Common Ground”, their old home, Bosnia. They are accompanied by a German and an Israeli, whose clueless outsider’s perspective provides both distance and comic relief to this fierce, searching investigation of history, of oneself and the others. It is an evening of great emotional power, addressing the task of reconciliation and acceptance without raised forefingers, polemics or truisms – and with no fear of big emotions and huge giggles.

Das Fest (The Celebration)

Based on the film by Thomas Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov
Directed by Christopher Rüping
Schauspiel Stuttgart
Premiere 20 April 2014

It is a very distinctive, crazy imagery that Christopher Rüping has created here, far removed from the severe and sterile style of the original film: A stage fantasy that is sometimes hard to bear in its gaudiness, and then again produces clear, evocative, cuttingly emphatic moments. A company of terrific young actors carries this show. Much of what they do was obviously developed in improvisation, is unfinished – an impressive, ambitious “cooperative work”, that much is clear. It is uncanny how something can shift from pure high spirits to the quietest of gravity (and back again): The abuse, the story’s issue, cannot be grasped, cannot be expressed, and remains forever hurtful. And so no one looks for explanations that would only turn out to be lies and excuses. No answers, just delicate images, moments of terror, suspicions, palpitations, provoking mood-swings, careless nonchalance. Everyone plays every role, falling out of character in an instant, embodying both victim and culprit. And yet everyone stands alone, lost in the colourful rain of confetti that never quite comes on cue. A disturbing, perfidious game of juggling prejudices and condemnations, guilt and betrayal.

Die lächerliche Finsternis (The Ridiculous Darkness)

By Wolfram Lotz
Directed by Dušan David Pařízek
Burgtheater at the Akademietheater, Vienna
World premiere 6 September 2014

In the theatre, sparks sometimes fly – but not often do they fly as literally and impressively as in this world premiere from Vienna’s Akademietheater. In his production of Wolfram Lotz’ “Die lächerliche Finsternis“, director Dušan David Pařízek not only dismantles all conventions but also has his splendid quartet of actresses chop up parts of the set. All male parts are played by four women, like the “black Negro from Somalia” – in an ironic game of racisms and political correctness, the author has this character first study Piracy at Mogadishu University and now defend himself before a Hamburg district court. Or German soldiers and Italian UN-officers with fake moustaches, making earnest conversation in the Afghan jungle. Lotz draws on Joseph Conrad and Francis Ford Coppola for his motives, and inserts current world issues into an absurd neo-colonialist plot. In his “Speech for the impossible theatre”, Lotz says: “The impossible theatre is the eternal demand!” Pařízek has met this demand with anarchic gusto.

Die Schutzbefohlenen (The Supplicants)

By Elfriede Jelinek
Directed by Nicolas Stemann
Thalia Theater, Hamburg
World premiere Mannheim (Theater der Welt) 23 May 2014
World premiere Hamburg 12 September 2014

In the end, after various attempts of representation by accomplished actors from the Thalia Theater’s company, finally the Lampedusa refugees from Hamburg’s St. Pauli Church raise their own voices in Nicolas Stemann’s production of “Die Schutzbefohlenen” by Elfriede Jelinek. Jelinek’s angry, forceful text refers to Aeschylus’ 2500 year-old play “The Suppliants” as logically as it does to the occupation of Vienna’s Votivkirche in 2012 by Pakistani refugees. To this mythological foundation and current suffering, Nicolas Stemann adds the question of the representability of this suffering: Who can speak for whom here? How can this be acted, how can we come even close to grasping the whole scope of this problem’s hideousness, never mind to solving it. It is a grand circling of the failure of civil society – and of art: “We can’t help you; we’re too busy playing you.” And at the same time: The plea for us not to duck away. To look into our own frightened eyes. To acknowledge the misery of the world in our own comfort zone.

die unverheiratete (the unmarried)

By Ewald Palmetshofer
Directed by Robert Borgmann
Burgtheater at the Akademietheater, Vienna
World premiere 14 December 2014

Three women, three generations, an unresolved past that stinks of betrayal and blind obedience: “the unmarried” connects April 1945 with the present. Back then, a woman shopped a soldier to the Nazis after he had daydreamt in semi-public about deserting the army. This led to his death. Now the woman is old. She has an alienated daughter and a grand-daughter whom she feels closer to, even though the young woman is digging through her past. Four chorus-sisters establish Palmetshofer’s syntactically twisted narrative style. This challenging, antiquated artificial language consistently fulfils a specific task: It prevents the play from being prattled to shreds. It is a sight to see how the three actresses in Robert Borgmann’s production toil away at the leaden silence that shapes the lives of many families. Christiane von Poelnitz (the middle one) expects nothing but incomprehension from her life. The young one (Stefanie Reinsperger) floats between the eras with her accordion, sometimes as herself and sometimes as her grandmother’s shadow. And Elisabeth Orth (the old one) skillfully sports the truculent pout of a woman who, after all, only obeyed the law back then and could never ever even think of doing anything bad.

John Gabriel Borkman

By Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Karin Henkel
Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg
Premiere 21 September 2014

In the interpretation of Karin Henkel and designer Katrin Nottrodt, the realms of upstairs and downstairs, described by Ibsen as strictly separated living conditions at the Borkmans’, melt into a single dismal, oppressive non-location made of concrete, where people meet as if as a punishment and are obliged to perch on top of each other. There are no more escape routes of lies and dissimulation out of this bunker, this prison of souls, where the battles for power and people are fought to the point of total exhaustion. Henkel shows the grotesque decline of former public morals: Ghostlike conjurers of their pent-up malignancies, tortured and humiliated, who can only operate by torture and humiliation, the masked undead who cannot find peace and therefore leave no one else in peace either. The hostile sisters wrench their victims’ emotions and believe that this is love. But once old Borkman is dead, once the great child finally has to be given up for lost, their battle is revealed to be an evil, outrageous, eerily funny spectacle of two maternal monsters who, like two immature brats, will even fight for the applause they get for their celebrated degradations.

Warten auf Godot (Waiting for Godot)

By Samuel Beckett
Directed by Ivan Panteleev
Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen / Deutsches Theater, Berlin
Premiere Recklinghausen 5 June 2014
Premiere Berlin 28 September 2014 |

A spotlight flits across a light-coloured width of material on Mark Lammert’s set, which contracts as if to form the hub of the world, disappearing into the gorge of a funnel in which two men stand. Vladimir and Estragon (Samuel Finzi, Wolfram Koch) stare out of the crater’s hole as if they had just landed on a strange planet. In this restricted area and free zone of pure acting, limited by black curtains, only the imagination is real. Two have-nots who possess neither shoe nor hat, neither radish nor turnip. No props to hold on to. Pozzo and Lucky (Christian Grashof, Andreas Döhler) also climb out of this primal hole, equally bereft of all utensils: no rope, no whip, no suitcase, nothing at all. In Ivan Panteleev’s “Waiting for Godot“, there is a second hand-writing underneath the openly legible one, as in a palimpsest: the signature of Dimiter Gotscheff, to whom this production was dedicated. For Panteleev and his actors, it’s all entertainment and running gag, chasing across the funnel’s sloping walls. Finzi and Koch are masters of self-re-enactment, both visionaries of the present and bearers of hidden history, virtuosos of stage business, experts of the eternal now and sealers of time.

Warum läuft Herr R. Amok? (Why Does Mr R Run Amok?)

Based on the film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael Fengler
Directed by Susanne Kennedy
Münchner Kammerspiele
Premiere 27 November 2014

Susanne Kennedy’s production resembles a sadistic human experiment – just as sadistic towards its characters as the petit bourgeois conditions which they function, rather than live in. The director uses the alienation tools she developed a year ago for her production of “Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt” and radicalizes them further. Once again, the actors move in sync to recorded voices from offstage – but this time the voices are not their own, but those of various amateurs. As an added refraction, the actors playing the individual characters change. This becomes evident only gradually, since their faces are spackled with a congealed silicone mask and their movements are frozen and mechanic. Kennedy’s experimental laboratory soon puts paid to the notion that we are all unique individuals. This is a high level of artificiality, appropriate to the story of polite employees whose lives seemingly dissolve in adherence to roles. Mr R.’s rampage appears like a first stirring of life. Kennedy’s radical formal experiment is so logical and compelling that the spectator finds it hard to flinch from it.


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Video Trailers

of the selected productions 2015


Chronicle 1964-2015

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