Stückemarkt Commission of Work 2021
Laudatory Speeches on the Occasion of the Awarding of the 2021 Stückemarkt Commission of Work
Sarah Yawa Quarshie, Actor in the Ensemble of Schauspiel Dortmund
There is a statement in “Dreams in Blk Major”: “This space is BY, FOR and ABOUT the self-identified Black/Afro Diasporic (hereby referred to as ‘Blackʼ) community. 1. All action and intention reflects this.”
The dedication is a challenge. And a promise.
The two theatre-makers Nia Farrell and Talia Paulette Oliveras – working together as the artistic duo Ta-Nia – invite the audience to attend a ritual. As a starting point, the audience is divided into BIPoC and white persons. They are separated into groups and seated in different places: Black audience members sit closest to the stage.
It is an act of dismantling. It reveals the core of every action taking place in white spaces and white theatres.
In her introduction video, Nia Farrell mentioned: “I am ready.”
The white theatre has to admit: It is not. Not ready. It is not even prepared. Not prepared for Black bodies on stage. Not ready to acknowledge the existence of Black persons and Black perspectives. Not prepared and perhaps not willing to declare itself as white. An institution whose development and definition was ever and is still addressed towards white middle-class audiences.
The joyful celebration Ta-Nia presents is a journey through popcultural references and narrations whilst it reflects the unspoken, the taboo. The invisible. It dismantles what theatre basically is and was, a white institution and once a ritual. A ritual that helps to cross boundaries, break taboos, disrupt narrations and sometimes creates communities. Offering irritation, maybe frustration, but also empowerment as a first step towards change.
Nia Farrell and Talia Paulette Oliveras as authors and theatre-makers are a chance for theatre: because they celebrate and question it. We experienced them as intelligent, joyful and radical artists – theatre-makers for future theatre.
Julia Wissert, Artistic Director of Schauspiel Dortmund
Dear Eve, Jude, Sam, Talia, Nia and Laurence, dear Team of Stückemarkt, my dear colleagues of Schauspiel Dortmund,
I am standing here in this pink gown as the representative of the many people who were involved in this incredibly difficult process of deciding on a winner of the 2021 Stückemarkt commission of work.
Two of the central question we at Schauspiel Dortmund circle around in our everyday practice are: What is the role of theatre in a world that seems to be eating itself up? What is the potential it could hold for societies which dissolve in anguish and violence?
We believe that constructing rifts in time and space that open up worlds we could have never imagined becoming a reality, facilitating encounters and creating visibility for stories and people who have been marginalised, or worse made invisible, is one of the superpowers of theatre.
Dear Eve, Jude, Sam, Talia, Nia and Laurence, all of you opened up worlds and hacked what we accepted as a universal “norm”. All of you invited us to glimpse into the unseen and unheard. For that, the texts you gave us, the conversations you had with all of us at Schauspiel Dortmund we want to thank you. Encountering you provoked new reflections about where we want to go as artists here in Dortmund.
Unfortunately, and we did discuss if there wouldn’t be a way for all of you to come, we have to decide. We created questionnaires for the ensemble, had discussions about the texts, gave each other insights into the conversations we had with you, which actually made it harder to come to a conclusion. Because all of you are incredible.
Schauspiel Dortmund, we the people working here, try to facilitate artistic encounters. We would like to be a space that defies what others claim to be an unchangeable reality. We speculate about the worlds unseen and conjure them into existence through art. As Octavia E. Butler put it: “There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns”. To us there were two artists who with their piece did exactly that. They opened up a space and resisted a hegemonic narrative all while concluding in a celebration of Black lives. This is why we would like to invite Ta-Nia to come to Schauspiel Dortmund and challenge the world as we know it with us.
Talia, Nia, it is with the greatest honour and happiness that we would like to congratulate the both of you for winning the Werkauftrag at Stückemarkt 2021.