Theater der Zeit | Editorial
January 2014

The January 2014 issue of German theatre magazine "Theater der Zeit" was dedicated to Andrzej Stasiuk's text, Thalerhof, directed by Anna Badora in Graz, in the context of UTE project "1914/2018". Questioning the tension between centre and margin, West and East, the editorial of this issue mentionned the work of 3 of our member theatres: Schauspielhaus Graz, Staatstheater Stuttgart and Maly Drama Theatre - Theatre of Europe, Saint-Petersburg.

When director Anna Badora changed from Düsseldorf, the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia, to the much smaller city of Graz, she was declared crazy. She was asked what on earth she was intending to do at the outermost border of the German speaking theatre landscape, almost in the Balkans. She answered that this was precisely what she was interested in. She was interested in a different perspective on a “united Europe which has lately relocated its borders farther and farther East (and which is continuing to do so)”. In this sense, Graz is more and more shifting from the border to the centre.

100 years after the "primal catastrophe“ of WWI and the first great battle between nations in the 20th century, theatres such as the Schauspielhaus Graz, the German-Serbian Folk Theatre of Bautzen and the Mülheimer Theater an der Ruhr are casting another look on our present from where they are standing,in supposedly fringe areas. They are casting a look on a Europe which is constantly growing, but whose history and stories have until now neither been explored historically, literarily or theatrically. In this edition, apart from portraits of the theatre of Graz by Christoph Leibold and another one of the theatre of Bautzen by Gunnar Decker, we are publishing the play Thalerhof by Andrzej Stasiuk, which was recently premiered in Graz. Dorte Lena Eilers has spoken with the author about the play, where the people that died during WWI are resurrected in a distressing and touching way, in order to make them “give to the future what has been buried with them”, as Heiner Müller expressed. Similarly to Stasiuk, in his first years at the Theatre at the Ruhr, Roberto Ciulli sensed his luck in the East. After some difficulties at the beginning (“a part of the audience in Remscheid, Iserlohn, Soest, Unna has beaten us up”), the theatre travelled to Yugoslavia, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Uzbekistan and continued its journey on the silk road. Martin Krumbholz talked to Ciulli about this unique experiment of an international theatre that now has connections to 36 countries all over the world.

We could say that Armin Petras has gone the reversed way: he went from Berlin to Stuttgart, from the East to the West. Like Anna Badora, he was smirked at in the beginning. “From a theatre in a cosmopolitan city to the province of Kehrwoche?” Or a “misunderstanding”, as our contributor Otto Paul Burkhardt is pointing out. So? “Never mind. Now, after an ambitious opening with six premieres on three days, the shyness and cliché feuds have stopped. Petras, whose hard-working and dynamic nature is well received, has gained an honourable success. It is a work achievement.”

The Berliner Schaubühne however was less welcome in Saint Petersburg. At the end of November, the theatre toured the metropolis at the Neva with their Thomas Mann / Gustav Mahler production “Tod in Venedig / Kindertotenlieder” - at exactly the same place where a law punishing the fact of tackling homosexuality and pederasty in the presence of minors was established a year earlier. The actor Josef Bierbichler expressed his concerns about the story of Thomas Mann in not dealing about anything else. However, this did not dissuade the director Thomas Ostermeier. On the contrary: he explicitly dedicated the guest performance to the gay people in Russia. According to Bierbichler, “it is only on the next day that the theatre in St. Petersburg was smeared with slogans of hate, and there was also the head of a sow dropped off at the entrance. We were lucky.”

North, South, East, West? Christoph Schlingensief was an artist who seemed to be above all of these categories. He was his own compass, his own centre, from which he “constructed his own reflected and shaped worlds, which were everything but theatre.” On the occasion of the Schlingensief retrospective at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Ute Müller-Tischler has spoken to the curator Anna-Catharina Gebbers and Aino Laberenz, Schlingensief’s long-time companion. According to Gebbers, this conversation proves once again “how precise Christoph Schlingensief was in putting his finger into the wounds of society”, preventing the audience from the possibility of “resting on an attitude of irony”. In this sense, we are wishing all our readers a good start for the new year.

The editorial department

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