The 10 Selected Productions 2020

The jury attended 432 productions in 56 cities in the German-language region. 744 votes were given and each jury member watched between 87 and 120 productions. A total of 35 productions was nominated and discussed.

The Theatertreffen-team would like to congratulate the invited directors, companies and theatres!

Anatomie eines Suizids

Anatomie eines Suizids. Julia Wieninger, Gala Othero Winter, Sandra Gerling. In the back: Christoph Jöde, Paul Herwig, Tilman Strauß

© Stephen Cummiskey

Anatomie eines Suizids (Anatomy of a Suicide)


By Alice Birch
German Version by Corinna Brocher
Director Katie Mitchell
German Premiere 17 October 2019

Statement of the Jury
In her play “Anatomy of a Suicide”, dramatist Alice Birch introduces the audience to three women: Mother Clara, her daughter Anna and her granddaughter Bonnie. Clara suffers from severe depression, her daughter tries to compensate her unhappiness with drugs, both of them end up taking their lives. Bonnie, however, explores different avenues. Actors Julia Wieninger, Gala Othero Winter and Sandra Gerling portray the women at different points in their lives. Katie Mitchell stages this ingeniously composed play as a sensitive show about the pain of being alive and the attempt to get a grip on one’s existence. The stories of these three women are set in the past, present and future and are assembled in parallel, both in the text and on stage. A triptych of generations emerges. And a psychologically complex show that finds an exciting new way to ask what a successful life is.

Chinchilla Arschloch, waswas

Chinchilla Arschloch, waswas. Barbara Morgenstern, Christian Hempel, Benjamin Jürgens

© Robert Schittko

Chinchilla Arschloch, waswas (Chinchilla Arsehole, eyey)

A Production by Schauspiel Frankfurt, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt) and Rimini Protokoll in Co-Production with Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin)

By Rimini Protokoll (Helgard Haug)
Concept, Text and Direction Helgard Haug
World Premiere 11 April 2019 (Frankfurt) || |

Statement of the Jury
Helgard Haug’s “Chinchilla Arsehole, eyey” only at first glance appears to be a fun show about people who have Tourette’s syndrome and live with tics – with uncontrollable words, sounds, movements. Because this research project featuring experts of the everyday also deals with the theatre itself, its limitations and capabilities. The dramatic text is created anew every day. Anything can happen, because Tourette’s is very difficult to control. To accommodate this, Haug and her protagonists have created specific spaces and situations for acting and given them a precise rhythm. But the show is also about the audience, who are triggered and scolded, who get hugs and presents. It’s about “breaking character”. About a utopian society where anything is possible and everyone is welcome.

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän. Karin Pfammatter, Maximilian Reichert

© Zoé Aubry

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (Man in the Holocene)

Schauspielhaus Zürich

A Visual Poem after Max Frisch
Director Alexander Giesche
Premiere 23 January 2020

Statement of the Jury
Herr Geiser is going under: in a rainy and overcast Tessin and in his own increasing forgetfulness, in a cut-off mountain village opposite sliding slopes. In this work based on Max Frisch’s novella, Alexander Giesche is less concerned with the story of losing track of the world and of one’s own self than with exploring it as a text that ponders on the relationship between mankind and nature, on acquiring knowledge as a way to reassure oneself of one’s existence. Tessin’s incessant rain pelts down on the curtain and the stage floor in all imaginable pitches and colourings. Knowledge material from a cement mixer to a holographic projector accumulates and sinks without a trace; children bridge an abyss in solidarity. Even a dinosaur, which Max Frisch was reminded of by a salamander in his living-room, makes an appearance. “Only mankind know disasters”, he writes, “provided they survive them. Nature does not know disasters.”

Der Menschenfeind

Der Menschenfeind. Ulrich Matthes, Manuel Harder, Lisa Hrdina, Franziska Machens, Jeremy Mockridge, Elias Arens

© Arno Declair

Der Menschenfeind (The Misanthrope)

Deutsches Theater Berlin

By Molière
German Version by Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens
Director Anne Lenk
Premiere 29 March 2019

Statement of the Jury
This production of the classic “The Misanthrope” at Deutsches Theater Berlin takes its material seriously and generates historical references. At the same time, it sets it staunchly in our present times, partly due to the German translation by Gosch and Wiens with its wild, unrestrained verses. Over large parts of the show, Anne Lenk shifts the focus from Alceste towards Célimène: It is a great pleasure to watch how Franziska Machens’ both casual and hypnotic acting takes over the lead. Ulrich Matthes lends human depth to his Alceste – the tragic circumstance that neither of them is willing or able to act against their nature gives the evening an undercoat of deepest black. Although there is plenty of drastic comedy, none of the characters are buffoons, but rather people constrained by the corsets that hide their inner turmoil. Behind the comedy, Lenk finds individuals in all their disjointedness, in all their truth. Thanks in part to the exquisite set and costumes, this production can be read as a parable both of Versailles under Louis XIV and of our present days.

Die Kränkungen der Menschheit

Die Kränkungen der Menschheit. Joana Tischkau, Vincent Redetzki, ensemble

© Gabriela Neeb

Die Kränkungen der Menschheit

A Production by Anta Helena Recke with the Münchner Kammerspiele in Co-Production with HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Kampnagel (Hamburg) and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt)

Director Anta Helena Recke
World Premiere 26 September 2019 (Munich) | | |

Statement of the Jury
Anta Helena Recke adds another “Humiliation of Mankind” to the three previously noted by Sigmund Freud (1. Mankind descends from the apes; 2. The sun is the centre of the universe; 3. People are at the mercy of their unconscious mind): White European men are not the paragons of mankind after all. With her criticism of white supremacy, the director prompts her audience to reflect on their own views and associated patterns of decoding. In the setting of an art museum, a painting is re-enacted and a different picture is discussed among a group of visitors. This largely meditative performance presents a sublime scrutiny of viewing norms and thereby patterns of reception and representation. Recke touches on several post-colonial discourses – from restitution to white normative thinking, applying unusual energetic devices of presence and absence.

Eine göttliche Komödie. Dante <> Pasolini

Eine göttliche Komödie. Dante <> Pasolini. Max Gindorff, Philip Dechamps, Gunther Eckes, Franz Pätzold, Tim Werths

© Matthias Horn

Eine göttliche Komödie. Dante < > Pasolini (A Divine Comedy. Dante < > Pasolini)

Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel/Residenztheater, Munich
(under the Artistic Direction of Martin Kušej)

By Federico Bellini
German Version by Katrin Hammerl and Laura Olivi
Director Antonio Latella
World Premiere 22 March 2019

Statement of the Jury
Antonio Latella considers Dante and Pasolini, two major moralists of Italian literature, together in this work. Virgil’s descent into hell, described by Dante in the “Divine Comedy”, becomes a matrix for Pasolini’s conflict-ridden political and personal biography: The director was found murdered on the beach of Ostia in November 1975; his true killers were never identified. Through a haunting ritual, Latella perpetuates this murder on stage, reflecting Pasolini’s death in Dante’s journey through the circles of hell. The relationships and interlaced motives that he manages to describe are truly astonishing and have a detailed foundation in the subject matter. There is no grandstanding, everything is developed from the material with great earnestness. Latella’s artistic sincerity and his courageous readiness to employ grand gestures as well as a sort of vulnerable pathos are just as impressive as his sure grasp of form and the stupendous precision of the actors. A disturbingly brutal and tremendously delicate show.


Hamlet. Sandra Hüller

© JU Bochum


Schauspielhaus Bochum

By William Shakespeare
With Extracts from “Die Hamletmaschine” by Heiner Müller
Translation by Angela Schanelec and Jürgen Gosch
Director Johan Simons
Premiere 15 June 2019

Statement of the Jury
The truth is at stake here, nothing more and nothing less. At Schauspielhaus Bochum, the country’s rulers, corrupted by power and deliberately portrayed as merely average, see Sandra Hüller’s diaphanous Hamlet as an increasing and incalculable risk: Overwhelmed by a vision, Hamlet her*himself has effectively experienced her*his father’s murder in Johan Simons’ production. Quietly, manically, she*he exerts herself to find out what is really going on and, thus, what is the morally consequent thing to do. Gina Haller as Ophelia – and also as Horatio – is by Hüller’s side. She is evidently a match for Hamlet: feisty and stubborn, clever, casually fun-loving, level-headed and 100 percent caring. An impressively severe understatement is the order of the day on this stage, designed by Johannes Schütz and encircled by danger. Instead of the customary bloodbath, we witness a tidy and subtly ironic clean-up campaign. Except: Hüller’s relentlessly upright Hamlet is too late to save a world that has been ruled into ruin. And that is the true tragedy.

Süßer Vogel Jugend

Süßer Vogel Jugend. Ensemble

© Rolf Arnold

Süßer Vogel Jugend (Sweet Bird of Youth)

Schauspiel Leipzig

By Tennessee Williams
German Translation by Nina Adler
Director Claudia Bauer
Premiere 6 April 2019

Statement of the Jury
Those who think that they are currently witnessing the demise of political culture in the US may well find themselves disabused by Tennessee Williams’ “Süßer Vogel Jugend (Sweet Bird of Youth)”. In the past, during the late 1950s to be precise, the situation was no better than it is today – on the contrary. “Sweet Bird of Youth” is a splendid example of Western disillusionment, dismantling the usual myths of not only American dreams with acerbic wit. Success, fame, money, love and above all the hope of any real understanding between people are lovingly pulverised. The play’s particular charm lies in the fact that none of the protagonists have any doubt at all about their own – or the others’ – perfidiousness and that they all describe it in no uncertain terms. This kind of unconditional honesty is possible because all have long given up any hope of influencing anyone else except through brute force or ruthless blackmail. What counts in Claudia Bauer’s production is fearless achievement under an at times pitiless scrutiny of one’s own fakes and felonies. Because the director and her actors know only too well that authenticity holds no currency in this panorama of self-interests, demolished illusions and life-long dreams. Her merciless, acute sketches are full of acerbity and malice and they become the more ominous the more foolishly the characters expose themselves. Claudia Bauer’s horrific clowns and lucky corpses are highly animated indeed.



© Eva Würdinger

Eine sylphidische Träumerei in Stunts

A Production by Florentina Holzinger in Co-Production with Spirit and Tanzquartier Wien, SPRING Festival (Utrecht), Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt), Arsenic (Lausanne), Münchner Kammerspiele, Take Me Somewhere Festival (Glasgow), Beursschouwburg (Brussels), deSingel (Antwerpen), SOPHIENSÆLE (Berlin), Frascati Producties (Amsterdam), Theater im Pumpenhaus (Münster), asphalt Festival (Dusseldorf)

Concept, Performance and Choreography Florentina Holzinger
Premiere 3 October 2019 (Vienna) | | | | | | | | | | | |

Statement of the Jury
Florentina Holzinger’s “TANZ” is a response to images and fantasies handed down through the centuries by classical ballet. Among other sources, the dancer, performer and choreographer draws on “La Sylphide” by Filippo Taglioni. In her version, however, the sylphs (spirits of the air) don’t glide over the ground in pointed shoes: They circle the stage on motorbikes stark naked or fly through the air on brooms – and they smoke, too! “TANZ” inserts motifs from romantic ballets like “Swan Lake” or “Giselle” into a plot based on Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”: a ballet class that takes an ominous turn for the worse. Ever since her programmatic work “Kein Applaus für Scheiße” (No Applause for Shit), which she developed with Vincent Riebeek in 2011, Holzinger has been known for a blood-curdling use of bodies. Her performances carry the chutzpah of Viennese Actionism, but even more than that, they celebrate subversive stage formats that see the body as a spectacle and an instrument of power: sideshows, stunts, martial arts.

The Vacuum Cleaner

The Vacuum Cleaner. Damian Rebgetz, Thomas Hauser, Annette Paulmann, Walter Hess, Julia Windischbauer

© Julian Baumann

The Vacuum Cleaner

Münchner Kammerspiele

By Toshiki Okada
Translation from Japanese by Andreas Regelsberger
Director Toshiki Okada
World Premiere 12 December 2019

Statement of the Jury
Saturated, ageing high civilisations (in this case Japan’s) invariably claim some victims. The point of departure for Toshiki Okada’s work is a female hikikomori who is fifty years old and lives a life of social apathy in her eighty-year-old father’s house. She is watched, among others, by the eponymous vacuum cleaner that introduces itself from a floor- and dust-oriented perspective: “I’m the type who is more interested in the lower regions.” A grown-up son also lives with the father and daughter. Because he is secretly unemployed, he has a lot of time on his hands and loiters in parks and malls during the day. His new friend, who quit his job with Amazon after four days because he couldn’t stand the shitty work, is also part of the living arrangements. It’s a panorama including a bubble of affluence, social phobia, average working lives, lacking prospects, depression and McJob-misery. The performers’ gestures are always a little out of sync, following and enlarging what is said and felt: Blossoms of decay somewhere between being remotely controlled by society and the remains of one’s own agency.