Da im Kafenion (There at the Kafenion)
In this text dating from 1987, Herbert Achternbusch looks back „to a past where there was an option of peace”, as he says in his preface. An “I” goes to a Kafenion, a traditional Greek coffee-shop, and waits for his girlfriend, who has been unfaithful to him. In individual moments, he encounters familiar characters, whom he treats with friendly aloofness. The patron continually asks for “Oriste?” and the long expected Susn arrives – only to simply leave again. Nobody knows who was really there. Achternbusch describes a crisis and its value. A relaxed and yet raw, alert glance at one’s own life and actions is developed as a utopian strategy.
Spanische Karten oder Barcelona 2014, 300 Jahre danach (Spanish cards or Barcelona 2014, 300 years later)
One night, three people fighting for what they desire. A couple celebrate the last night of freedom before their wedding. A vengeful former lover meddles and upsets the couple’s relationship. Carles Batlle poses the question of whether things can really only get better after they have become much worse. A play about the desire to explain, appraise, construe and project our lives – and at the same time to make sense of the political systems we live in.
Die Diener zweier Herren (The servants of two masters)
This grimly comical text connects motifs of Carlo Goldoni’s play with a current political debate about the Italian ILVA-steel works in Taranto. In verse drama, a hard clash between the worker’s reasoning and the politicians’ technocratic language is revealed. Volker Braun exposes the feeling of political disenfranchisement and helplessness prevalent in our times.
Landschaftsbild Lichtenhagen (Landscape Lichtenhagen)
The haunting portrayal of a city in the stranglehold of extremism, alcoholism and dementia. A revolt is nipped in the bud. Werner Buhss uses varying formal approaches – from a highly alienating chorus to lyrical realistic scenes. The specific temporal and local references open out into a parable which sharpens our awareness for different kinds of degeneration in our world.
In this farce, Oliver Bukowski shines a light into the abysses and depths of the cultural industry. A young female journalist, hell-bent on interpretation, is confronted with a tuba player who refuses and subverts any kind of analysis. Her notion of art, and ultimately her whole personality and word view are challenged. The piece creates not only a portrait of a young woman and an older man, but also a travesty of our superficial media world that defines itself exclusively through interpretational sovereignty.
A Prelude to an End of a World
Davide Carnevali creates the provoking image of a world where everything is strictly organised and administered according to market-based utilization aspects. A corporation holds the monopoly for the most efficient resource on earth: the animals. “Wild boars for the hunting and goulash industries. Horses for the logistics and ham industries. Common buzzards for the waste and stock-cube industries. Brown bears for the industry of spectacle.” This is Carnevali’s horrific vision: A society that no longer even attempts to think about a life beyond a capitalist ideology of growth.
dlerfelsen Schädelstätte (Eaglerock Golgotha)
Prometheus. Jesus. One hanging from a rock and defiantly feeding his liver to the eagle. The other hanging from the cross and praying with the dove that plummeted from the sky. One propagates pride, head held high, tolerating no gods above him. The other teaches humility, owns a father who is always above everything. Prometheus. Jesus. Maker of mankind. Redeemer of mankind. But what if people no longer believe in either of them?
John von Düffel
Ein Franzose, ein Russe und ein Amerikaner oder Alliierten-Besuch (A Frenchman, a Russian and an American or Allied visitors)
World War I, the moon landing, Willy Brandt and Klaus Meine are the shaping influences on the family in John von Düffel’s “falsification of history”. Conflicts between nations are reflected in comically eccentric constellations of characters, without ever losing the global scope of these events. A play full of comedy of language and situations, a daring profile of the 20th century and a rambling fantasy about the potential irony of recent history.
A woman imagines what she would say to her husband if he were standing in front of her. About how angry his devotion to his job makes her, how neglected she feels. But she starts to lose her grip on reality. Isn’t he already standing there? Is he crying? The woman’s thoughts begin to determine what happens; fact and fiction become harder and harder to distinguish. Their decaying marriage might also be the dissolution of her own individuality.
Alles brennt (Everything burns)
Werner Fritsch examines Western visions of doom and confronts them with the cyclical symbolism of Indian mythology. The motifs within this symbolism of life, fire and ashes connect with the ritual dimension of theatre and with its transience – a revival of the idea of “teatrum mundi”.
The author sketches a whimsical portrait of what happens when a West German family owning a medium-sized company expects the downfall of Western civilization. The result is a funny and dynamic text, a play of language that skips between places and times and manages the most absurd connections between diverse storylines. A play about our current cultural pessimism and at the same time a criticism of the media hype of the end of days and apocalyptic sentiment.
Mücken im Licht (Moskitos in the light)
Through the act of writing, Anne Habermehls two characters from different eras are connected: In 1918, a young political prisoner writes messages to posterity on the walls of her prison cell. Equally political but much more personal are the letters of a man from East Berlin, written in 1987 to his wife who has fled to the West. Two characters, two prisoners, collide and try to grasp the collapse of a world order by writing.
A dense, intense text that captures an atmosphere of yearning for death, as displayed in Delacroix’ painting “The death of Sardanapalus”. By painting over the text with the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anja Hilling renders this horrifying image uncomfortably urgent and up-to-date. In lyrical form, Hilling traces the ambivalence of luxury and decadence and creates an atmosphere reminiscent of a pharaoh’s tomb.
A family drama blending frightening visions and sobering images of reality. A nightmarish apartment, filled with mounted animals like a sombre museum of natural history, provides the setting and the material for the conflict between an invalid father and his daughter, who is also his nurse. Is the physically dependent character also psychologically inferior? Feelings reach boiling point – and the daughter reaches for her father’s hunting rifle.
“The people have left, because where the animals have outrageous excrescences, the healthy don’t want to stay.” – Before an apocalyptic backdrop, Elfriede Jelinek questions how many self-induced catastrophes mankind can bear, and putting the moment of deixis up for negotiation, the subjective attitude of pointing out: What do I say when I say something? What do I refer to when I name something? Who am I that name something? Does language help at all to understand the world, or not?
Wir werden uns nie wiedersehen (We will never meet again)
Thomas Jonigk’s tragicomical text connects the biblical deluge with contemporary DIY-issues. In grotesque scenarios, he conceives moral, political and sexual difficulties which could arise due to the impending end of the world. His protagonist, a modern city dweller, finds himself faced with the task of securing mankind’s survival after the catastrophe – but sociological and pragmatic questions may well cause this megaproject to fail even before the end of the world.
Return to Forever
A man’s highly personal memory of how he became a soldier. Starting with his birth and his parents’ wishes, via his childhood and youth to the moment of killing, at war. At the same time, this is the story of a young woman, his sister, shaped by illness and loss. Slowly, the narration emerges from the internal view, alternates between splinters of thought, fragments of memories and snapshots. Pointedly, it talks of coincidence and fate, luck and misfortune, love and desperation, courage and fear.
Arbeit Leben (Work Life)
“The involvement of one’s own family in all outrages, that’s what this is about. Connections that were strange, as though never described before, suddenly become visible. Like a patchwork rug, a picture of a society emerges that tries to survive, torn between the prospect of freedom and its fear of what is foreign. To not have to explain, or form, or bend, but rather to speak freely about what happened, could be a first step towards the portrayal of the actual circumstances. A description of one’s own origins, beyond the presentation of achievements, is no more than one further option. What develops will be nothing more than the attempt of a sketch. The provisional will become the normal state, which is present like life itself.” (Oliver Kluck)
Der Weg des Kriegers (The path of the warrior)
In this grotesque, Rebekka Kricheldorf portrays three male specimen of Western civilisation looking for guidance in a masculinism-workshop entitled “Awaken the sleeping warrior in you”. It’s impossible for the audience to distance themselves from these pathetic, comical characters or from their bizarrely twisted idea of a right life in the wrong one. Life isn’t easy for any man who tries to live up to today’s female demands. Sooner than expected, the self-awareness seminar leads to the ultimate question: Who here has the longest spear?
Zwanzig Mohammed-Witze in zwei Minuten (Twenty Mohammed jokes in two minutes)
This monologue examines the price of tolerance in our specific environment. A “critical” artist is sitting in a chicken snack bar with his friend Murat, railing against this “shithole of a world”. His language varies between sociolect and academic slang and lends a pathos-free urgency to the question of the success of political art. A funny and intelligent text about far more than the issue of jokes about Mohammed.
oh ist das Morrissey (oh is that Morrissey)
The author links short scenes of extraordinary conciseness to form an emphatic panorama of war and camp life. Although there is an abundance of quotes – from Ernst Toller, Georg Trakl and Georg Heym to Morrissey, Sammy Cahn and Blondie – the time and place of events remain indefinite, each of the characters a simple Everyman. More than in the war-related events, they are caught up in their own speechlessness, which is increasingly condensed from the initial loose and laconic form, to culminate in an inner monologue which renders perceptible the existential significance of the external events.
A president has retreated into the forest with his seriously injured wife and his chief aide after his country has been raided by enemies from Africa. The central issue: The mechanisms of power and dominion as reflected by holding on to the illusion of a hierarchically ordered state. Beyond this specific illusion, “Afrocalypse” demonstrates the ambivalences faced by models of freedom, autonomy and personal responsibility when confronted with the Other.
Full of self-irony, Wolfram Lotz addresses his origins and his artistic attempts at emancipation. The author enters the stage, where “Mama” already sits, talking incessantly, about him, his success as an author, his deficient childhood. Could this maternal egocentricity explain the son’s strange behaviour on stage? Perhaps Wolfram Lotz portrays not only the relationship with his own mother, but also reveals a conflict between generations, where children are denied their own space, their own stage.
Marius von Mayenburg
Mission zum Mars (Mission to Mars)
A quick-paced play, in which frozen fish become murder weapons and not quite small boys are passed off as very young girls. A science-fiction screenplay which is mistakenly seen as an actual plan for an escape into space is the trigger for a confused game, in which the potential of animated film plays as big a part as the question of the freedom of art. Though the characters become ever more ludicrous, their desperation remains palpable.
Albert Ostermaier’s powerful portrayal of an individual downfall, affecting a person’s very core. This renders a new perspective on the subject of “Decline and downfall of Western civilization?”. A strict lyrical form, a kind of stream-of-consciousness, creates a thrilling undertow. Places meld, remembered images flash, consciously created vacancies are broken by specific experiences. At the end, there is a long suspected and yet surprising and painful zero point.
Der Geist aus Hamiltons Fach (The ghost from Hamilton’s locker)
Moritz Rinke creates a playful connection between the morbidly lush atmosphere of the PanAm lounge of the 1960s, the old lockers at the entrance, and the present. A ghost that has been confined here summons a pilot and his mistress and even Theodor Fontane to the lounge, without succumbing to nostalgia. Different voices talk about the “good old days”, at the same time giving a precise analysis of current events. A funny speech performance that unites voices from different decades in one dialogue.
Wohin? Verfall und Untergang der westlichen Zivilisation (Where to? Decline and fall of Western civilisation)
A play centred on a family that lives up to the cliché of university graduates who have recently moved to Berlin and seem to have made all their dreams come true. An unexpected visitor disrupts this idyll; a sudden abyss yawns and threatens to swallow all certainties, all fixed opinions. Within only a few pages, this many-layered text sketches a complete parallel world and points out that our painstakingly constructed identities are none too solid.
Best New Europlay
A caustic satire on Eastern European promotion of culture. A disastrous theatre rehearsal and a comical Skype-conference literally reveal the ultimate MCA. And what is made to look like selfless assistance turns out to be the cultural exploitation of the East by the West. Babylonian confusion, fear for one’s existence, blatant self-promotion – Peca Ştefan writes a ferocious and trenchant exposé on the much-vaunted international culture exchange.
Monolog der jungen Frau – (The young woman’s monologue –)
A young woman delivers a fierce, voluble speech, urgently asking questions for which there are no answers. The aims and opportunities of the cultural industry and of the individual in a capitalist world are part of this tirade, as are her own rage, desperation and fear, which serve as impetus to the text.
Euphorie und Alltag oder Störe meine Krise nicht (Elation and Day-to-day or Do not disturb my crisis)
A trip to a nocturnal bar, an almost mythical place due to the quest for meaning, the lack of orientation and the coolness of its sometimes hysterical, sometimes indifferent protagonists. Allusive situations are blended with the everyday, specific historical references with an ambivalent timelessness. Although a collage with elements ranging from Aristotle to the German band Fehlfarben, this text tells a seemingly never ending story and reaches a cathartic final scene.