The festival 2013

Anniversaries, strong female performances, live music on stage, spatial inventions and blackface …

The Theatertreffen 2013 was marked by anniversaries: 50 years of Theatertreffen, 50 years of Haus der Berliner Festspiele, 35 years of Stückemarkt, 5 years of the Theatertreffen-Blog. An array of events, publications and talks in the anniversary year reflected the festival’s past – one which defined the German-speaking theatre scene – and the diverse expectations and wishes for its future development.

Acting took centre stage in the Theatertreffen 2013 and actresses in particular. Constanze Becker, Wiebke Puls, Sandra Hüller (winner of the 3sat-Prize), Julia Häusermann (winner of the Alfred Kerr Acting Prize), Sylvana Krappatsch, Julia Wieniger, Lina Beckmann, Lena Schwarz and Yvon Jansen exhibited the diversity within acting styles and made strong impressions on audiences.

What was exceptional this year was the extensive use of live music on stage. Sascha Ring and his band Apparat recorded a soundtrack to “Krieg und Frieden”, which he performed live on stage and is now touring with. Ingo Günther performed on his marimbaphone and conducted the eight-person mumbling choir, the Swiss jazz pianist Jean-Paul Brodbeck played key role in “Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe”, in which he accompanied Brecht’s classic with jazz rhythms reminiscent of those in a restored silent film. In Karin Henkel’s “Die Ratten”, the actors themselves turned into musicians, playing the piano, guitars and trumpets. No surprise then that a veritable orchestra (The Theatre Composers Orchestra), formed specifically for the occasion and made up of theatre musicians, took to the stage at the anniversary celebrations.

Large-format spatial inventions by set designers such as Olaf Altmann, Herbert Fritsch, Alex Eales, Thilo Reuther, Tilo Baumgärtel, Annette Kurz, Eva-Maria Bauer and Jens Kilian were essential in directing how productions were staged: to a remarkable degree, The Theatertreffen 2013 was also a celebration of set designers.

Two productions set sparks flying and prompted debates that were passionately held at discussion events an in audience talks. To mark the inclusion of Jérôme Bel’s “Disabled Theater” , artists and academics debated the question “Disabled people on the stage – artists or exhibits?”“Disabled people on the stage – artists or exhibits?” at a symposium in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. The production “Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe”, directed by Sebastian Baumgarten from Schauspielhaus Zürich, offered a fresh opportunity to discuss the question of blackface – which continued at an event held in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele at the beginning of June.

Along with travelling jury, which includes some new members, we are already looking forward to the 51st Theatertreffen from 2–18 May 2014. Until then, I invite you to delve into and peruse through our anniversary book “Fünfzig Theatertreffen” and our newly published online chronicle. Which directors have received the most invitations? Which piece has been performed the most? Or flick through the Theatertreffen-Blog for example through a folder packed with reviews on drawings or the bloggers’ 50-drawings summary.

Yvonne Büdenhölzer
Theatertreffen Director