As a souvenir of their invitation to the Theatertreffen, the companies of the ten selected productions from 2014 to 2022 were presented with a small piece of art designed by Eva Veronica Born since 2016.
Theatre productions are teamwork. They are processes in which many different forces and influences participate, all of which together give rise to something that constitutes theatre as an art form. In the same way, the Theatertreffen-Award is once again to be understood as a process in which the ceremonial presentation of a “trophy” is only the beginning of a new, further process. Sustainability plays a special role in the 2022 Theatertreffen. For this festival edition, Eva Veronica Born has therefore designed a “cup” made of earth that contains seeds of various plants. The ensembles are called upon to take this 2022 Theatertreffen award to a place that is special to the production. The “one” will be buried, sown and a new multiplicity will emerge from it. Flowers, shrubs and trees will grow in a common act and in turn give something new and lasting back to the world.
Eva Veronica Born (*1981) studied architecture at the Berlin University of the Arts. After graduating, she worked as a freelance set designer for theatres including Münchner Kammerspiele, Deutsches SchauSpielHaus Hamburg and at Ruhrtriennale. In 2012 and 2013, she was invited to Theatertreffen as set designer for productions directed by Johan Simons. She has been designing Theatertreffen’s festival venues at Haus der Berliner Festspiele since 2015. Since 2016, she has also been designing the official Theatertreffen-Award.
Theatre is not made by one person alone. Only the complex interaction of a wide range of participants creates a whole that is more than the proverbial sum of its parts. The pandemic-ridden season 2020/2021 caused this to be felt more painfully by theatre makers than before. This motivated Eva Veronica Born to create an award for the 2021 Theatertreffen that appreciates the theatre as a community-building art. Ten individual cups, cast in gaudy, colourful concrete, were broken into pieces and the artists involved in the selection of 10 productions will each receive their own concrete shard. Thus, the shards are the document of a time of separation, while at the same time pointing ahead to the possibility of joining together once more in artistic creation.
When thinking about her version of the Theatertreffen-Award in previous years, Eva Veronica Born set out to create something that would give form to experiences made with and in the theatre. Just as the spectators leave the performance with an individual experience, she wanted to return a part of their own memories to the artists. In the reverberation of joint creative work, these memories feed on encounters and an engagement with people and texts. The script of a production is an allegoric vessel of this treasure of experience. Therefore, from 2017, the teams of the ten selected productions were given their own scripts, cut into a prize cup.
Similar to the 2021 concrete shards, the Theatertreffen-Award that Eva Veronica Born created in 2016 also marked a transformation process – in the form of an “ice cup”. She based this piece on the moment between presence and absence, questioning the form of a lasting award that stands in contrast to the theatrical moment, which is an immediate, but ephemeral experience. The award’s consistency melts and cannot be archived – what remains is an individual memory.
Prior to 2016, Munich-based sculptor Olaf Mentzel designed the trophy, tying it in with the “Focus Fassbinder” series of events and the exhibition “Fassbinder – NOW” at Gropius Bau. In form, the Theatertreffen-Award was a continuation of “Fassbinderfragmente”, Metzel’s series of reliefs from the year 2012. Aluminium plates received prints on both sides and were then bent, formed, creased and folded to suggest crumpled paper. The print templates consisted of pages from Fassbinder’s screenplays, manuscripts, film stills, portraits, reviews and other documents.
In 2014, the Theatertreffen-Award was created by Ai Weiwei. His trophies for the teams of the selected productions addressed an event that had drastic consequences for his society: The trophies were worked from twined bars of reinforcement steel – remnants of school buildings destroyed during the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Ai Weiwei created several of the works that were presented at Gropius Bau as part of the exhibition “Evidence” from the debris that he collected by the ton at the sites of the disaster. Through his choice of material for the trophies, the artist wants to remind us particularly of the children among the nearly 100,000 victims of this catastrophe.