The 10 Selected Productions 2019

On 30 January 2019, the jury for the 56th Theatertreffen announced its selection.

They attended 418 productions in 65 cities in the German-language region. 744 votes were given and each jury member watched between 94 and 121 productions. A total of 39 productions was nominated and discussed.

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

Das große Heft

Das große Heft

© Sebastian Hoppe

Das große Heft (The Notebook)

Staatsschauspiel Dresden

Based on the novel by Ágota Kristóf
German translation by Eva Moldenhauer
In a version by Ulrich Rasche and Alexander Weise
Directed by Ulrich Rasche, stage design by Ulrich Rasche
Premiere 11 February 2018
www.staatsschauspiel-dresden.de 

Jury Statement
Ulrich Rasche’s choral art is devised for grandeur, for pathos, for powerful imagery and sensory overload. Some may say that it smells like Rammstein. All of this is true. But like hardly any other director, Rasche lets us hear texts in new ways, unfolding them in front of the viewers’ consciousness with the most precise rhythmisation, inspiring and exciting their thought processes. Spellbound, we follow Ágota Kristóf’s wartime childhood stories for nearly four hours. It is a dark piece, full of violence and sexual obsessions, presented with brittle and artful behaviourist storytelling. At a leisurely pace, Rasche traces the stories with oppressive intensity, his male choirs striding on huge rotating discs, driven by Monika Roscher’s minimalist sound art. It is a look into a fascist, militaristic childhood world, purged of all morality, a stroll into the rolling mill of bourgeoning male fantasies.

Das Internat

Das Internat

© Birgit Hupfeld

Das Internat

Schauspiel Dortmund

By Ersan Mondtag
Text by Alexander Kerlin and Matthias Seier
Directed by Ersan Mondtag, set and costume design by Ersan Mondtag
World Premiere 9 February 2018
www.theaterdo.de 

Jury Statement
From papier-mâché and naïve drawings, Ersan Mondtag has created a visually spectacular rapture-like Goth ghost-train at Schauspiel Dortmund: the kind of night-terrors we wouldn’t want to dream of in our worst nightmares. Ever new dark chambers open out onto a revolving stage, with 17 trained and uniformed wards skulking among them, executing mechanically rhythmical everyday routines, like eating, sleeping, torturing. The Internat (the boarding school) and its rich realm of associations in cultural history are presented as an eternal cycle of becoming the oppressor and the oppressed, of victimhood and perpetration, fear and paranoia. This archaic and artificial scenario provokes great philosophical questions: What is a just revolution? When does it tip over into fascism? From what point on is violence allowed? “Das Internat” describes a process of brainwashing where ideologies are continually reversed: a dark metaphor for the world.

Dionysos Stadt

Dionysos Stadt

© Julian Baumann

Dionysos Stadt

Münchner Kammerspiele

Devised and directed by Christopher Rüping
World Premiere 6 October 2018
www.muenchner-kammerspiele.de 

Jury Statement
How often can we say that we remember even months later exactly how we felt during an evening of theatre, how we laughed and marvelled, how at times we felt like mere bystanders, only to be carried away again moments later, how we felt like such integral parts of the experience? In “Dionysos Stadt”, a ten-hour marathon of ancient Greek theatre, Christopher Rüping tells the story of mankind who receive the gift of fire from Prometheus to create, and use it only to pillage and plunder. Fed by a variety of old and new sources, this journey takes us from the myth of Prometheus via the Trojan War to its fallout manifested in the family tragedy of the “Oresteia”. In the satyr play, we finally encounter a modern hero: the melancholy football-god Zinédine Zidane and his fall during the World Cup finals of 2006. The individual parts of the production are separated by extensive intervals and hospitality. Because the evening’s sophisticated dramaturgy is almost surpassed by its character of a grand festivity. With a decidedly casual air, the actors invite their audience to join them, to settle on the stage at times, to move closer to the events. It is a great and relaxed piece of theatre. The rediscovery of conviviality.

Erniedrigte und Beleidigte

Erniedrigte und Beleidigte

© Sebastian Hoppe

Erniedrigte und Beleidigte (The Insulted and Humiliated)

Staatsschauspiel Dresden

Based on the novel by Fyodor M. Dostoevsky
Using the Hamburg Poetics Lecture by Wolfram Lotz
Directed by Sebastian Hartmann; stage design by Sebastian Hartmann
Premiere 29 March 2018
www.staatsschauspiel-dresden.de 

Jury Statement
In a looming mist, stirring music resounds and people storm to the edge of the stage. They haul in ladders and begin to create a gigantic picture with black and white paint – higher and higher, layer upon layer. A wheeled hospital bed revolves in front of it and actors in swishing crinolines and black top-hats present ostensibly incoherent and recurring scenes from Dostoevsky’s serialised novel “The Insulted and Humiliated” about an egotistical patriarch, abandoned children and crushing mountains of debt. It takes a while for the audience to find their bearings around the improvisation modules of Sebastian Hartmann’s Dresden production. Almost programmatic in character, the production is interwoven with Wolfram Lotz’ Hamburg poetics lecture, outlining principles for a new theatre and performed in a spoken dance by Yassin Trabelsi with a fine sensitivity for sound. Hartmann’s staging is not a linear retelling of the novel’s plot, but rather – and this is already inherent in Dostoevski – aspires to an ecstatic dissolution of sense and logos of the kind that can be experienced in illness, love and, in this case, in art.

Girl From The Fog Machine Factory

Girl From The Fog Machine Factory

© Sandra Then

Girl From The Fog Machine Factory

Gessnerallee Zürich

A contemporary story with a magical ending
By Thom Luz
Directed by Thom Luz; stage and lighting design by Thom Luz
A production by Thom Luz and Bernetta Theaterproduktionen in co-production with Gessnerallee Zürich, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Kaserne Basel, Internationales Sommerfestival Kampnagel Hamburg, Theater Chur, Südpol Luzern
World Premiere 17 May 2018
www.bernetta.net  | www.kampnagel.de 

Jury Statement
Thom Luz in a fog machine factory – this seems as logical as it is simultaneously whimsical and melancholy. The staff of the eponymous factory is of the kind that will welcome one of its rare visitors with a madrigal in four parts: They’re not exactly worldly. And nothing could make these people happier than an opportunity to show their visitor every single item from the company’s range, from the cigarette-pack-sized hand fog machine to the polyphonic fog-pipe organ. In this show, Thom Luz reaches the culmination of what he has always been trying to grasp: the casualness of beauty, the attempt to hold on to the shining light. “Le passage d’un nuage”, as the song by Francis Poulenc describes it, a French composer between late Romanticism and the modern age of machines, between palm court music and the melodies of delusions, who features prominently in this production. The evening itself is laid out like a musical fog image, with an exposition, an execution and variations, that become increasingly blurred towards the end, until they slowly dissolve.

Hotel Strindberg

Hotel Strindberg

© Reinhard Werner/Burgtheater

Hotel Strindberg

Burgtheater, Vienna / Theater Basel

By Simon Stone based on August Strindberg
Directed by Simon Stone
World Premiere Vienna 26 January 2018
Premiere Basel 16 January 2019
www.burgtheater.at  | www.theater-basel.ch 

Jury Statement
Simon Stone has taken on August Strindberg’s furious and yet deeply humane culture of conflict and the result is yet another classic piece of dramatic literature brought up to speed with our current times. “Hotel Strindberg” incorporates elements of a number of rarely considered plays and stories by the restless spirit of August Strindberg (among others “The Father”, “The Ghost Sonata”, “The Pelican” or “Creditors”) as well as events from the life of the dramatist himself – all woven into a kaleidoscope of Strindbergian moments for today. The audience watches simultaneous scenes in the rooms of a hotel, where relationships are at stake non-stop. The show unfolds like a long, rhythmic ballad, with the actors involved in the creation of the sound on a set-up. The conflicts become more and more surreal, characters start to dissolve into a delusional yarn, entirely lost to the world. A masterpiece of rewriting classic literature.

Oratorium

Oratorium

© Benjamin Krieg

Oratorium (Oratorio)

HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin

Kollektive Andacht zu einem wohlgehüteten Geheimnis (A collective mediation on a well-kept secret)
By and with Sebastian Bark, Johanna Freiburg, Fanni Halmburger, Lisa Lucassen, Mieke Matzke, Ilia Papatheodorou, Berit Stumpf and the choir of local delegates
A production by She She Pop in coproduction with HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Festival Theaterformen, Münchner Kammerspiele, Schauspiel Stuttgart, Kaserne Basel, Schauspiel Leipzig, Kampnagel Hamburg, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, FFT Düsseldorf, Konfrontacje Teatralne Festival Lublin and ACT Independent Theater Festival Sofia
World Premiere Berlin 9 February 2018
www.hebbel-am-ufer.de 

Jury Statement
It’s not proper to talk about money. The performance collective She She Pop couldn’t care less and sets out to explore the topics of private property, inequality and shame. The “we” that is evoked everywhere becomes almost automatically evident. The audience is invited to participate: Initially as a choir of citizens with a prescribed text which results in a dialogue that is as enlightening as it is hilarious. Later, they are asked to reveal themselves as heirs and heiresses on stage. But nobody is made to feel bad, everyone is welcome. She She Pop forms the audience into a polyphonic choir, executing the promised “Collective meditation on a well-kept secret” in their musically balanced oratory. The piece reveres Brecht and his poetics of teaching plays just as much as it pokes fun at them. Like always in She She Pop’s work, the political nestles inside the private, in the biographical material. The revolutionarily beautiful costumes by Lea Søvsø can serve as a flag or as a cape. And the actors on stage are just as versatile. In short: A show that asks the right questions and refuses to accept any glib answers.

Persona

Persona

© Arno Declair

Persona

Deutsches Theater, Berlin

By Ingmar Bergman
German translation by Renate Bleibtreu
Directed by Anna Bergmann
Co-production with Malmö Stadsteater
Premiere Malmö 15 September 2018
Premiere Berlin 30 November 2018
www.deutschestheater.de 

Jury Statement
Anna Bergmann re-narrates Ingmar Bergman’s avant-garde experimental film – and turns it into a psychological in-depth exploration of female identity. The relationship between actor Elisabet, who has fallen silent, and her lively nurse Alma becomes an intimate psycho-duel between the great actors Corinna Harfouch and Karin Lithman, a duel that takes more than a few unexpected new turns and cuts across many a taboo and cliché. The show explores how women are tortured by the images they are expected to conform to, how they compare and measure and burn themselves out – finally replacing each other. Where is the line between one’s own identity and assigned (female) roles? The show’s content finds an intelligent equivalent in its form: Depending on which country the play is performed in, the actors switch roles, thus finding a way to include the age-old theatre conflict of jealousy in the story.

Tartuffe oder das Schwein der Weisen

Tartuffe oder das Schwein der Weisen

© Priska Ketterer

Tartuffe oder das Schwein der Weisen

Theater Basel

Comedy by PeterLicht based on Molière
Directed by Claudia Bauer
World Premiere 14 September 2018
www.theater-basel.ch 

Jury Statement
Every era has its own hypocrisies – and the con-artists that it deserves. In Molière’s play, the wealthy bourgeois Orgon fell under the spell of religious pietist Tartuffe and terrorised his entire household with his mania. Author and pop musician PeterLicht transforms these two characters into the pig-costume wearing sex guru “Tüffi” and his biggest fan “Orgi”, who plies him with the offer of his own wife and daughter. PeterLicht’s dialogues imitate fan logic: In vertiginous cascades of wittering, they revolve around individual signal words (“hot/not hot”, “contextualise”, “workshop” etc.) until their very meaning collapses. Claudia Bauer’s world premiere production pulls off the feat of translating PeterLicht’s critique of the ethics of language into feisty and yet sophisticated humour: Decked out in pseudo-Baroque pop-outfits and Disney-wigs, the fabulous Basel company presents their know-it-alls and players on both sides of a house façade. The world is a hoax, or maybe it’s just phony – and they play along with all the creativity they can muster.

Unendlicher Spaß

Unendlicher Spaß

© David Baltzer

Unendlicher Spaß (Infinite Jest)

Sophiensæle, Berlin

By David Foster Wallace
German translation by Ulrich Blumenbach
Text version by Thorsten Lensing in cooperation with Thierry Mousset and Dirk Pilz
Directed by Thorsten Lensing
A production by Thorsten Lensing in coproduction with Schauspiel Stuttgart, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Kampnagel Hamburg, Theater im Pumpenhaus Münster, HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and SOPHIENSÆLE
Premiere 22 February 2018
www.sophiensaele.com 

Jury Statement
In 1996, David Foster Wallace published his post-modern, 1500-pages-long novel “Infinite Jest”, which was released in a German version in 2009. Director Thorsten Lensing and his team abridged the material until it became a four-hour evening of theatre. Their stage version, which took several years to create, focusses on the protagonists and their relationships with each other. The outstanding company of actors develop their characters from their foibles and flaws and pay no attention to distinct gender assignments. Much rather, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Sebastian Blomberg, André Jung, Ursina Lardi, Heiko Pinkowski and Devid Striesow play on a nearly empty stage with each other and with the simplest theatre devices. They tell stories about the misery of one’s own existence and the imponderability of life, and, quite incidentally, about the emotional state of a nation. It is alarmingly sad, but also exuberantly hilarious at times.