The festival 2015

The 52nd Berlin Theatertreffen was varied, political and provoked much quite heated discussions. On the opening day, the central topic of the festival as a whole was set with Nicolas Stemann’s production of Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Schutzbefohlenen (The Supplicants)” and the theme day events of the issues of displacement, asylum and immigration policy. War and displacement, being and becoming a foreigner as well as problems and responsibilities in a globalized world were a common thread of many of the 10 most remarkable productions: Dušan David Pařízek’s world premiere of “Die lächerliche Finsternis (The ridiculous darkness)” by Wolfram Lotz, the final performance of Frank Castorf’s “Baal”, Yael Ronen’s devised production “Common Ground” and “the unmarried (die unverheiratete)“ by Ewald Palmetshofer, directed by Robert Borgmann, are among the most distinctive examples.

Aside from its strong political focus, this year’s Theatertreffen was a festival of world premieres and debuts. Christopher Rüping’s adaptation of the film “Das Fest (The Celebration)” and Thom Luz’ production of “Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln (Atlas of remote Islands)”, with its aspects of music and installation art, demonstrated surprising and youthful approaches to great material. With “Warten auf Godot (Waiting for Godot)”, directed by Ivan Panteleev, we reconnected with last year’s Focus on the work of Dimiter Gotscheff. Five out of the ten invited productions were world premieres.

In staged readings, performances and guest productions, the Stückemarkt presented more world premieres and a wide spectrum of contemporary authorship. Alexandra Badea’s “Zersplittert (Pulverized)” and Stefan Wipplingers “Hose Fahrrad Frau (Trousers Bicycle Woman)” addressed questions of exchange economy and globalization in highly individual languages, and Alexander Manuiloff’s performance “The State” challenged the audience and provoked long discussions. “Another great year for fishing” by Tom Struyf took the audience on a sensual and moving journey and for one day, Daniel Cremer / TALKING STRAIGHT transformed our Festspielhaus into a place where the theatre arts of Middle Europe could be experienced as a fascinating new discovery.

Together with the scholarship holders of the International Forum, the critics of the Theatertreffen Blog, the Theatertreffen jury and more than 50 experts at the Camp, they all discussed and tried out new approaches, came up with questions, looked for answers, found common ground and tolerated conflict.

Furthermore, the Theatertreffen continued the Focus series launched in 2014. This year, it explored the contemporary significance of director, theatre maker and author Rainer Werner Fassbinder in current productions, film screenings and public discussions. Susanne Kennedy’s production of “Warum läuft Herr R. Amok (Why does Mr R run amok?)”, one of the ten productions invited to this year’s Theatertreffen, was part of this Focus, as was the exhibition “Fassbinder – NOW” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau of the Berliner Festspiele. Hanna Schygulla and Patrick Wengenroth presented two world premieres, and artist Olaf Methel used Fassbinder materials in his design of this year’s Theatertreffen trophy, which is presented to the directors of the ten invited productions.

Another distinction that is traditionally presented at the Theatertreffen is the Theatre Prize of the Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung and this year, it went to Corinna Harfouch. The 3sat Prize for Lina Beckmann and the Alfred Kerr Acting Prize for Gala Winter distinguished two outstanding artistic achievements from Karin Henkel’s production of “John Gabriel Borkman”. This year’s Theatertreffen – which was again a festival for actors – proved that big topics can and must be addressed on stage. “We can’t help you, we have to play you”: this much quoted line from “The Supplicants” is a condensed expression of the questions, the doubts and scruples, but also of the hope that it is worthwhile to produce plays and that there are forms of presentation that will transcend the daily news and, by doing this, really make us see something.

I hope that you had the opportunity to see and experience the new and unexpected, the surprising and exciting. And I am looking forward to welcoming you to the 53rd Theatertreffen in May of 2016!

Yvonne Büdenhölzer
Head of Theatertreffen