Focus 2014-2016

The series of “Focus” took place from 2014 to 2016. In cooperation with the Martin-Gropius-Bau, each festival edition compiled an extensive programme to present the oeuvre of a major contemporary artist whose work combined elements of performance and visual art.

Focus Arrival Cities – Germany: A welcoming country?

Currently, around 60 million people worldwide are fleeing wars, conflicts and persecution in the hope of beginning a new life in metropoles of the prosperous Western states. Germany took in a million refugees. At the same time, the rapid processes of spatial, sociocultural and economic transformation present the urban societies of arrivalcities with unforeseen tasks. Are these places of arrival at all equipped for the great challenges of a new urban society? While some predict new opportunities for a cultural and economic heyday, other parts of society feel completely outpaced by these rapid developments. Uncertainty and a lack of orientation frequently lead to defensive attitudes of cultural racism. What will the future of our open society be? What can art as a part of civil society contribute to this issue? In four discussions, this year’s Theatertreffen will explore central issues of a welcoming culture in Germany.

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Focus Sculpture / Performance / Acting

With reference to the artistic positions of Isa Genzken and Susanne Kennedy, our focus on “Sculpture / Performance/ Acting” will examine the role of actors in the face of the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of art today. How is the expansion of the concept of sculpture connected to the introduction of elements of performance and installation into the theatre? The focus will present “Hideous (Wo)men” (2013) by Suzan Boogaerdt, Bianca van der Schoot and Susanne Kennedy and the installative reading of “Skizzen für einen Spielfilm” and films by Isa Genzken, as well as further discussions, and invites the audience to visit the exhibition “Mach Dich hübsch!” by Isa Genzken at Martin-Gropius-Bau.

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder during the shooting of “Händler der vier Jahreszeiten”
Source: DIF © Peter Gaue

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Focus Artist for the year 2015 was the director, theatre maker and author Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In parallel with the exhibition “Fassbinder – NOW” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, the festival focused numerous events on this enfant terrible of the West German film and theatre scene.

Apart from Susanne Kennedy’s “Warum läuft Herr R. Amok? (Why does Mr R. run amok?)”, which was one of the ten productions selected for the Theatertreffen, theatres in Berlin showed four other current Fassbinder productions: Berlin’s Schaubühne presented “Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun)”, a production directed by Thomas Ostermeyer which had already been invited to the Theatertreffen in 2008 with a different cast, as well as Patrick Wengenroth’s show “Angst essen Deutschland auf (Fear eats Germany)”. “Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear eats the Soul)”, directed by Hakan Savaş Mican, was shown at the Maxim Gorki Theater. The Roter Salon at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz was the venue for “Der 2. Tod eines Kollektivs oder Die wunderbare Welt des R.W. Fassbinder (The 2nd death of a collective or The wonderful world of R.W. Fassbinder)”, a self-experiment by actors Lilith Stangenberg, Maximilian Brauer and others, directed by Henning Nass and featuring exclusive contributions by Irm Hermann and Ulli Lommel.

Furthermore, the festival organised a symposium on Fassbinder, which set out to examine the continued impact of his political-aesthetic position today. As a first, the Theatertreffen produced two pieces of its own, which formed a double world-premiere on one evening: Hanna Schygulla commemorated Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the musical homage “17/70 – eine Zeitreise (17/70 – a journey through time)” and Patrick Wengenroth presented a theatrical performance loosely based on the Fassbinder quote “Einer, der Liebe im Bauch hat, der muss nicht am Flipper spielen (Someone who is filled up with love won’t have to play the pinball machine)”.

In addition to this, the Theatertreffen screened Volker Schlöndorff’s film of “Baal”, with Rainer Werner Fassbinder playing the title role. There was a “Fassbinder Film Night” at the Delphi Filmpalast cinema, and various television films based on stage plays were presented at a “Fassbinder television room” at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Dimiter Gotscheff during rehearsals for “Zement”
© Thomas Dashuber

Dimiter Gotscheff

The Theatertreffen-jury’s decision to select director Dimiter Gotscheff’s final production “Zement (Cement)” to the 2014 festival edition was taken as an opportunity to commemorate this artist, who died in October 2013, with a focus on his work.

Apart from the production of “Zement” from Munich, there were two productions from Deutsches Theater Berlin: “Die Perser (The Persians)” and “Verkommenes Ufer Medeamaterial Landschaft mit Argonauten / Mommsens Block (“Waterfront Wasteland Medeamaterial Landscape with Argonauts / Mommsen’s Block)”. The Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz presented “Ivanov”. At the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Mark Lammert’s portrait drawings of Dimiter Gotscheff were presented to the general public for the first time. Correspondingly, the Berliner Festspiele published Lammert’s drawings in their Edition No. 11. In a video lounge, recordings of and documentaries about Gotscheff’s productions were screened. The Deutsches Theater hosted a screening of “Homo ludens”, a portrait of the artist directed by his Bulgarian compatriot and friend Ivan Panteleev. On the festival’s opening weekend, numerous artists and fans of the director gathered for a concert entitled “Mitkos Lieder (Mitko’s songs)”, which Dimiter Gottscheff’s theatre musician Sandy Lopičić and his band conceived and performed especially for this occasion.