Anna-Katharina Müller about the 2021 Stückemarkt

Hello people at near and far screens,
Hello people who are watching us alone or together – Hello world!

This Stückemarkt is a repetition, you may think. A repetition of the Not-Yet-Shown.

A green colour field shows slight abstract contours.

The artists you will get to know over the next hours and days applied to us in the fall of 2019. They followed a public Open Call, which we had sent out all over the world.

Everyone could submit either a text or a performance, which thematically dealt with the motto “Wider die Vereinzelung / Against Separation”. Did we foresee the future? 361 submissions reached us from 63 countries. Between the submission by the artists and the actual presentation of the selected works today, 18 months have passed and a worldwide pandemic has occured, which still occupies us and will probably not disappear from our lives quickly.

You could assume that the works are outdated. The medium of theatre is fleeting. On the contrary! Jude Christian, Laurence Dauphinais, Eve Leigh, Sam Max and the collective Talia Paulette Oliveras and Nia Farrell (Ta-Nia), show us how sustainable artistic work is. They speak with their unique artistic voices, telling us that theatre is valid, how it addresses issues that affect us all.

Looking back at the past months, various feelings come up in all of us.

With “Against Separation” we have asked questions about the act of solidarity, about social and equal coexistence. What does a society look like when there is no more solidarity? What happens when the individual no longer believes in the big picture, when the private replaces the public? Today, all these questions and our motto itself have long since reached a new meaning. We are urged to isolate ourselves in order not to endanger the community, in order to protect it. For over a year now, singling out, or: isolating, has become a daily task. Since the birth of our motto, the world has changed: the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide protests against police brutality and racism, Brexit and the conditions in refugee camps and in the Mediterranean Sea. All these issues that have preoccupied us raise even more awareness for concepts such as: opening vs. closing, collective vs. individual, together vs. alone.

What started as a theoretical idea two years ago has now grown into a central social question: What does solidarity really mean, who experiences it and how can it be practised? The Stückemarkt 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, it was important for us not to leave the artists behind. In March 2020, we had to put them off until May 2021. Our hope, and perhaps also a slight naivety, led us to believe that we could welcome all six artists in Berlin this May. We all know what happened. And yet it is now time to no longer withhold these wonderful artists and present them and their work to a wide and curious audience. Albeit digitally and of course completely different than we once planned.

In “ Midnight Movie”, Eve Leigh interweaves everything that we can see and experience in the world of the Internet, explicitly addressing people who are rarely reached and considered by the theatre.

 Aalaapi” is about listening: Laurence Dauphinais’ multi-lingual company recounts the life-realities of Indigenous artists and invites us to slow down, to be consciously aware and open for encounters.

In “ Coop (German: Zaun)”, Sam Max develops an intense, rhythmical and disturbing web of a text. It leads us deep into the world of a girl who lives on a remote farm, isolated from the outside world, and becomes the reflection of an isolated society.

In “ Dreams in Blk Major”, Nia Farrell and Talia Paulette Oliveras weave a net made of dreams, wishes and memories that explores the challenges and hopes of the Afro-diasporan community in a poetic ritual.

In “ Nanjing”, Jude Christian combines historical and personal stories to form a moving call for pacifism and solidarity.

The artists of Stückemarkt question our theme by thinking about social and historical processes and through telling their very individual and intimate life stories.

The beauty and specialty of this selection lie in the shifting of perspectives. Voices are brought to our focus that are otherwise not heard. Plurality is revealed without becoming dogmatic. And the big question of how to get into concrete practice can be answered: with rituals, as in “Dreams in Blk Major”, or with building up a digital community, as in “Midnight Movie”.

We show: the texts “Midnight Movie”, “Coop” and “Dreams in Blk Major” as staged readings through live streams, from Münchner Kammerspiele and Haus der Berliner Festspiele. The performances, which we would normally have shown as guest performances in Berlin, have been newly recorded and edited in Canada and England.

Starting today, you can see the artists in short  film portraits on  Berliner Festspiele Digital. You can also listen to them in conversation with author and host Simon Stephens on the Royal Court Theatreʼs  Playwrightʼs Podcast. Furthermore, the artists will be giving workshops where they will share insights into their work and eagerly anticipate exchanges with participants.

In contemporary drama and in writing itself, the pandemic has long left its marks, aesthetically, artistically as well as structurally and economically. But what do these traces look like? What forces can be gathered for the future of drama? And what exactly might that future look like? These and other questions will be discussed in two conversations where we look at New Drama and its situation in the pandemic and in post-pandemic times. We continue to provide sustainable support for artists. Therefore, this yearʼs Stückemarkt commission of work will be awarded by our partner theatre, Schauspiel Dortmund, funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. Schauspiel Dortmund, under the artistic direction of Julia Wissert, stands above all for diversified structures and further developments.The winner of the Stückemarkt commission of work will be given the opportunity to realise a new work at Schauspiel Dortmund. In a public awarding event on May 23, Julia Wissert and the ensemble of Schauspiel Dortmund will announce the winning artist with whom they will collaborate in a following season.

We thank the Federal Agency for Civic Education, President Thomas Krüger and Sabine Dengel! I would also like to thank the wonderful Schauspiel Dortmund for their trust and the great collaboration – which is only beginning now! Many thanks to the Royal Court Theatre in London and Simon Stephens for the inspiring collaboration in the conception and production of the podcasts.

And, last but not least: the Stückemarkt jury 2020, who made this special selection of artists many, many months ago – Jackie Sibblies Drury, Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Laila Soliman, Maria Nübling and Linda Pöppel. This yearʼs Stückemarkt will show you something unexpected in many ways! Letʼs give a warm welcome to: Jude Christian, Laurence Dauphinais, Eve Leigh, Sam Max, Talia Paulette Oliveras and Nia Farrell – it is so good to have you here!