The festival 2014

The Theatertreffen 2014 was diverse: both focused and far-reaching. With its new festival structure, throughout the day, evening and night, in the camp, on stage and in the bar, it offered a polemic and passionate debate on theatre covering its themes, issues and solutions.

It was a festival of upheavals and new departures. The discussions and workshops in the new Camp pushed opened the foyer doors, letting daylight in on the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. This analogue discussion space turned into a lively community venue over 11 days, spanning an arc from the spectacle on stage to socially and politically relevant themes in contemporary global theatre.

The International Forum with fellowship holders from almost 25 countries, and which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, shifted decisively nearer to the festival and audience. The Theatertreffen-Blog not only made the productions accessible online, they also gave critical and experimental commentaries on the festival with interviews, audio and video clips, drawings, photos and reports in German, English and French.

After last year’s retrospective, the Stückemarkt also entered unchartered waters in its 36th edition. Three mentors (Simon Stephens, Katie Mitchell and Signa Köstler) presented three artists whom they had selected. Those mentored gave an insight into their work through performances, talks and workshops. Besides the classic theatre text by Chris Thorpe, Miet Warlop’s performative approach and Mona el Gammal’s installation techniques provided a comprehensive and multi-faceted overview of contemporary theatre forms. By placing very diverse signatures in juxtaposition, a complex understanding of modern authorship in staged drama was reflected.

The 10 most remarkable productions on the German theatre scene – the nucleus of the Theatertreffen ever since its inception – seemed particularly eclectic this year. From the standing ovations earned by the dance piece “tauberbach” and the documentary theatre of “Die letzten Zeugen” to the much-discussed Theatertreffen debuts by directors Susanne Kennedy and Robert Borgmann all the way to the consequential works by big theatre names like Frank Castorf, Herbert Fritsch, Karin Henkel or Alvis Hermanis, the whole impressive gamut of theatre was presented with its different forms and content.

Alongside trophy awards, premiere parties and audience discussions in the Upper Foyer, the concert by Get Well Soon and the big Theatertreffen party with DJ Lars Eidinger were among the highlights of the evening programme.

A grand total of 19,500 audience members braved Berlin’s showery May weather and participated in the festival together with guests and artists all of whom showed great curiosity and unrestrained interest. The Theatertreffen 2014 opened on 2 May with “Zement”, the last work by the director Dimiter Gotscheff, who died in autumn last year, and who was given a special Focus comprising of portrait drawings by Mark Lammert, a film retrospective and a midnight music concert.

In his prologue to the opening, Alexander Kluge said: “I am sure that, without theatre, there is no urban public space, not even classic public space deserving of that name. We therefore have good reason to reflect on the contemporariness and function of theatre among this country’s active public.” Vital theatre as was experienced at the Theatertreffen this year, has the power to strengthen and hone society in a gratifying way. I hope that you have taken away positive and inspiring impressions from the Theatertreffen 2014 and I look forward to seeing you again in May 2015!

Yvonne Büdenhölzer
Head of the Theatertreffen