The 10 Selected Productions 2021

285 productions in 60 cities were viewed either in person or online. 531 votes were submitted and a total of 26 productions were suggested and discussed.
The Theatertreffen-team would like to congratulate the selected directors and collectives, ensembles, theatres and production houses!

Automatenbüfett

Automatenbüfett

© Matthias Horn

Automatenbüfett

Burgtheater (Vienna)

By Anna Gmeyner
Directed by Barbara Frey
Premiere 30 October 2020
burgtheater.at

Statement of the Jury
Anna Gmeyner’s “Automatenbüfett” is a rediscovery. The playwright is often compared to Ödon von Horváth, mainly to her disadvantage. And yet her female characters especially are tough fighters – quite different from Horváth’s forlorn damsels. Just in time before the lockdown, director Barbara Frey has created a mellow and easy-handed production at Vienna’s Akademietheater, not remotely pandering to the genre-typical victim roles of the petit bourgeois panopticon. The stage is the first thing that stands out: Martin Zehetgruber has set an oversized automat into the theatre, which provides sausages and beer around the clock to anyone who drops a coin into it. The stage musician also plays for cash only. The director takes a stand against total automatization by committing her company to an artificial repertoire of movements. Everything happens with deliberate slowness – an eye for detail is more important than the grand gesture. “Automatenbüfett” is subtle, deeply sad and uproariously funny.

Der Zauberberg

Der Zauberberg. Rehearsal photo

© Arno Declair

Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain)

Deutsches Theater Berlin

Based on Thomas Mann
Directed and designed by Sebastian Hartmann
Live Stream Premiere 20 November 2020
deutschestheater.de

Statement of the Jury
In his production of “Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain)” at Deutsches Theater Berlin, director Sebastian Hartmann eschews all re-narration. Instead, he takes an approach that is fundamentally different from the usual stage adaptations of Thomas Mann’s opus. Hartmann explores philosophical aspects such as the phenomenon of time and finiteness, the question of how to live right and finally the horror and the fascination of war and death. Hartmann also makes do without any authorial narrating position; rather, the scenes follow the dramaturgy of a nightmare: association trumps narration, emotion trumps reason. What emerges is an artfully intentional loss of control. Post-dramatic devices like repetition, choreographed sequences and choric passages dominate, cameras extend our view to include the back and side stages. In padded bodysuits, the characters drag themselves across the emptied set; they appear to lack all identity and are strangely disfigured. “I am lost to the world”, someone says during the two-hour live stream. In an auditorium abandoned by the audience, in a world choked by the pandemic, sentences like this can wield an enormous impact.

Einfach das Ende der Welt

Einfach das Ende der Welt

© Diana Pfammatter

Einfach das Ende der Welt

Schauspielhaus Zürich

Based on Jean-Luc Lagarce
And a translation by Uli Menke
Directed by Christopher Rüping
Premiere 3 December 2020
schauspielhaus.ch

Statement of the Jury
“Einfach das Ende der Welt” is the story of the prodigal son, Louis – here Benjamin (Lillie) – who left for the metropolis at the age of twenty, to live the life of a homosexual and an artist. Twelve years later he returns, terminally ill, to talk to his family. Everything that could go wrong does go wrong – or rather, goes exactly as it should. Christopher Rüping ruthlessly exposes the inescapable loneliness that all protagonists are caught up in: a mutual lack of understanding, projections, the obsessive family web. There are heart-rending moments where an immense longing for love and appreciation shines through in each one of them. In a prolonged, tense exposition, Benjamin initially dwells on his old home as a place of memories, an obsessive feel-good-setting, which, however, has to yield to a hard and austere present in his confrontation with his family. Nothing is ever unambiguous, there is no solution in sight, points of view permanently shift and form a beautiful neurotic construct.

Graf Öderland

Graf Öderland

© Birgit Hupfeld

Graf Öderland

A co-production of Theater Basel (artistic directorship Andreas Beck) and Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel/Residenztheater (Munich)

A Ballad in Twelve Scenes by Max Frisch
Directed by Stefan Bachmann
Premiere 14 February 2020 (Basel)
theater-basel.ch | residenztheater.de

Statement of the Jury
“Graf Öderland” is an irrational rampage from the midst of society. A prosecutor who can no longer make sense of the world or the law, literally falls into a hole. A giant, horizontal funnel dominates the stage: People tumble out of it; they climb and plummet inside it. The prosecutor and a murderer with no motive merge into the monstrous image of “Graf Öderland with an axe in his hand”, who rages through the land on a murderous spree. Stefan Bachmann stages this nightmare of civilisation, this frenzy of violence, in overwhelming atmospheric images and surreal night-terror parades. Actor Thiemo Strutzenberger is a high-risk Öderland, a man for whom the dividing lines between waking dream and panicked clarity have long since become permeable. And the question of how alienation, cultural anxiety and a feeling of tedium in civil society can suddenly shift into aggression is one that we need to look at today.

Maria Stuart

Maria Stuart

© Arno Declair

Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart)

Deutsches Theater Berlin

By Friedrich Schiller
Directed by Anne Lenk
Premiere 30 October 2020
deutschestheater.de

Statement of the Jury
Human contact is scarcely possible in this letter-case set: Pink chambers separate the characters in Anne Lenk’s production of “Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart)”, turning them into prisoners regardless of their status or situation. At the centre, Julia Windischbauer’s Elizabeth struggles to keep her composure, timidly and nerdily clinging to power, while Franziska Machens’s Mary fights to have the last word with snotty irony. A nightmare of a pair who hide behind poker faces and masks at crucial moments rather than practising female solidarity. It’s no wonder that the men – figures of fun as they all may be – are able to hatch their plots. How Elisabeth still manages to thwart them in the end (at an emotional price) is one of the great moments of this show, rich as it is in subtle acting.

Medea*

Medea*

© Gina Folly

Medea*

Schauspielhaus Zürich

Based on Euripides by Leonie Böhm
Directed by Leonie Böhm
Premiere 19 September 2020
schauspielhaus.ch

Statement of the Jury
Medea is desolate, at a dead end. This is what Leonie Böhm’s production – essentially a monologue – underlines from the very beginning. Social bonds have been torn, there is no solid ground (only floating cloth), and the destructive and self-destructive actions have already set their own inevitable momentum into motion. Böhm shows us a woman in free fall. She is less interested in the inhuman act of infanticide than in the development that precedes this passage à l’acte. The self-empowerment that it entails. The new options for self-fulfilment that it may create. This Medea from Zurich is one who has read Christa Wolf and who is at least somewhat familiar with Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and Walter Benjamin. Even if – apart from some improvised text – she speaks mainly in Euripides’ words. A Medea of our times, who crashes and burns our entire sick system. The way actor Maja Beckmann develops this, the way Leonie Böhm arranges it in images, the way Johannes Rieder reflects it in music – is breath-taking and intelligent.

NAME HER. Eine Suche nach den Frauen+

NAME HER. Eine Suche nach den Frauen+

© Lea Hopp

NAME HER. Eine Suche nach den Frauen+

A production by Marie Schleef in co-operation with Ballhaus Ost (Berlin), Münchner Kammerspiele (Munich) and Kosmos Theater (Vienna). Funded with the support of Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the district of Pankow (Berlin), office of further education, arts and culture – funding for arts and culture

Idea, concept, text and direction by Marie Schleef
World Premiere 25 September 2020 (Ballhaus Ost, Berlin)
ballhausost.de | muenchner-kammerspiele.de | kosmostheater.at

Statement of the Jury
Where did all the women go? Because they did exist, the composers, scientists and submarine engineers who have kept things ticking over for centuries. In “NAME HER. Eine Suche nach den Frauen+”, Marie Schleef and Anne Tismer have erected a monument to them. In four sets of 90 minutes each, Tismer dances chemical formulas in front of a mobile phone display triptych, performs spies, talks about heroines of everyday life. Some of the items are fed in as a video, a sound, a projected text; sometimes Schleef intervenes from the control desk. Individual highlights make up a sum that demonstrates how neglectful our society has been and still is today of women’s achievements. And that counters the seemingly endless alphabetic series with an astonishing variety of narrative strategies and theatrical devices.

Reich des Todes

Reich des Todes

© Arno Declair

Reich des Todes

Deutsches SchauSpielHaus Hamburg

By Rainald Goetz
Directed by Karin Beier
World Premiere 11 September 2020
schauspielhaus.de

Statement of the Jury
What we see on this dungeon-like stage, designed by Johannes Schütz, is a frenzy of video images, dance scenes and impersonated politicians, an almost Brechtian theatre of enlightenment and memory. In Karin Beier’s production, the theatre sits in judgment over the US-American government’s moral degeneracy following the attacks of 11 September 2001 – but also over us. This brutally accusatory play by author Rainald Goetz gives rather silly German names to men like Donald Rumsfeld or George W. Bush; through devices including a Hitler-parody, the actors demonstrate the kinship between fascist brutalization and the cynicism of 21st century power politics. The fascination of crime and the archaic scandal of violence are depicted in grotesquely aestheticized scenes of war and torture. An orchestra of voices invokes the thunderstorm of thoughts inside the poet’s head and the mortal fear in all of us. Staying largely close to the text, this production is an immoderate, splendidly gloomy, disturbing description of our present times.

Scores That Shaped Our Friendship

Scores That Shaped Our Friendship

© Martina Marini Misterioso

Scores That Shaped Our Friendship

A project by and with Lucy Wilke and Paweł Duduś
Funded by the Cultural Department of State Capital of Munich, Bayerischer Landesverband für zeitgenössischen Tanz (BLZT) with funds from the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts, the district of Upper Bavaria and the Cultural Foundation of Stadtsparkasse München. This production is supported by Tanztendenz München e.V.

Idea and concept by Lucy Wilke and Paweł Duduś
World Premiere 13 February 2020 (schwere reiter, Munich)
ratundtat-kulturbuero.de

Statement of the Jury
In seven short chapters, actor Lucy Wilke, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, and the queer dancer Paweł Duduś survey and celebrate their special friendship. By means of language and dance, subtly synchronised movements, intimate two-body-sculptures and journeys of the mind, they address the established narrative of dependence and victimhood in order to overcome it, at least for the moment, through the freedom of acting and imagination. The pair attempt the utopian idea of an unconditional acceptance that can extend the limits of friendship towards lust and sensuality. They are very aware of its fragility and the cruelty of normative attributions, but they simply turn his ‘feminine’ movements and her standard rejection on Tinder – “You have such a pretty face but …” – into their very own playing material. This fragile independent show turns out to be uncompromising in its rejection of categories, and as a tender, laid-back pas de deux of touch, it exudes a phenomenal force. Not only in these touch-less times.

Show Me A Good Time

Show Me A Good Time

© Dorothea Tuch

Show Me A Good Time

A Gob Squad production. World premiere co-commissioned and co-produced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin) and La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Series (San Diego). Co-produced by Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt/Main), Schlachthaus Theater Bern, Internationales Sommerfestival Kampnagel (Hamburg). Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Minister of State for Culture and the Media. Gob Squad is funded by the Berlin Senate – Department for Culture and Europe

Conceived and directed by Gob Squad
Live Stream World Premiere 20 June 2020 (HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin)
gobsquad.com | hebbel-am-ufer.de | lajollaplayhouse.org | mousonturm.de | schlachthaus.ch | kampnagel.de

Statement of the Jury
This show is an allegory and a portrait of our first Corona-year: Just like in Zoom-meetings with family or friends, the dialogues stretch across miles and time-zones. Gob Squad set out to find the big issues that we dealt with in 2020 in the mundane: dying, nature, environment, hygiene, the future of the theatre. The structure of this chatting and strolling is determined by the city (one performer is at the local theatre, the others fan out) and by the quarter-hourly tasks that are set. Thus, time itself becomes the protagonist: sometimes with a Hofmannsthalesque melancholy, sometimes with a casual gesture of extravagance, sometimes with astonishment at the synchronicity of the asynchronous or in wild, personal time travel. This show is interesting even when it is idling. It works as a marathon of twelve hours, a chance to delight in warming ourselves near the virtual camp fire of a theatre that works in both the analogue and the digital realm.