When I attended the press conference in June last year, we were still living in a normal world – people could go to the theatre without worrying about social distancing or crowds. This year the corona pandemic has made this almost impossible. Bavaria was the worst affected state in Germany, so lockdown regulations were stricter here than in the rest of the country. However, although social distancing rules are still in place, theatres will be allowed to open their doors to the public again this month. Matthias Lilienthal will start the remainder of his final season in Munich with two premieres that were originally planned for April and are now scheduled to take place on June 15th– the immersive installation Oracle where Susanne Kennedy and Markus Selg explore the transformative power of paradoxes with the help of artificial intelligence, and the world premiere of WUNDE R by Enis Maci, directed by Felix Rothenhäusler. There will be a farewell ceremony with the entire ensemble and the staff at the Olympic Stadium on July 17th.
Artistic Director Lilienthal will be succeeded by Barbara Mundel, who has been working as a dramaturg since the 1980s as well as a director, focusing on musical theatre. She was the artistic director at the Theatre in Lucerne from 1999 to 2004 and at the Theatre Freiburg from 2006 to 2017. She raised and addressed the programmatic issue of a “city theatre of the future”, and the theatre in Freiburg was repeatedly honoured for its “unusually convincing theatre work outside of large theatre centres” by the theatre publication Die deutsche Bühne.
Mundel had devised a very special press conference, only very few select journalists were invited to join Mundel and her new team on the Kammerspiele stage, the rest of us were following the conference on Vimeo with a later Q&A session on Zoom, that did not happen because of sound issues.
After a short introduction of her team and the ensemble, who introduced themselves via Zoom, Mundel presented her four big themes or areas of research for the next five years: 1 Democracy and threats to democracy; 2 New and forgotten stories; 3 The relationship between technology and humanity; 4 Change of paradigm to digitalisation; 5 The social question and distribution conditions.
Mundel has included four directors as part of her leadership team: playwright and director Falk Richter, Jan-Christoph Gockel, a political director who has worked with puppetry for many years, Pinar Karabulut, who focuses on the female perspective in her work, Nele Jahnke from the theatre HORA, an inclusive theatre company consisting of artists, directors, writers, and actors.
The new season will start with a long-term project called KOY KOY: a newsstand will be used as a hub for the Kammerspiele, organised by activists of urban transformation – a postmigration multi-purpose shop and quite the opposite of the luxury shops at Maximilianstrasse. In the evening there will be radio, a hairdresser, conversations, and streaming for everybody looking for truth, beauty, and happiness. It will serve as the collective memory of the theatre – multilingual, featuring marginalised voices and radical forms of art productions.
Further productions to help create a network between the theatre and the city will be Habitat/München, a dance performance by choreographer Doris Uhlich, an experiment in isolation, which features nude dancers – professionals and amateurs. What is the City But the People? is a mix of installation, concert, and theatre event, created by Jeremy Deller. It will involve 150 people from Munich and will be performed for an audience of 999. A catwalk for vendors, taxidermists, brewers, clubs and associations, and a homage to those who fill the city with life, directed by Richard Gregory and Verna Regensburger. The Assembly/Die Versammlungby Canadian company Porte Parole (Alex Ivanovici, Annabel Soutar, Brett Watson) is based on an evening that actually happened. Four people with different backgrounds in politics and culture meet for dinner for the first time. It shows the limits of a debating culture as they discuss questions of belonging, racism, and immigration.
Musical theatre dramaturg Sebastian Reier will oversee the musical program at the Kammerspiele, presenting a diverse selection of musicians creating new sound languages.
The Kammerspiele will strive to include artists from both Theatre HORA in Zurich and local theatres such as Freie Bühne and Kreativlabor as well as in international co-productions. Julia Häusermann, who has Downs syndrome, will start off with her solo show Ich bin’s Frank, a cooperation with Theatre HORA in Zurich, directed by Nele Jahnke.
International co-operations will focus on European countries where democracy is particularly challenged. A project with TR Warszawa is in the works as well as productions with the fringe theatre in Kiev. There is also an artistic exchange with the choreographer Serge AiméCoulibal from Burkina Faso and the Argentinian director Mariano Pensotti.
Combining drama and dance, Falk Richter and choreographer Anouk van Dijk present Touch. This production will entail texts and improvisation on touching and closeness in an inhibited society.
Love – An argumentative exercise by Israeli writer Sivan Ben Yishai is a radical self-examination on how we love narrated by Popeye’s sweetheart Olive Oil, directed by Heike M. Goetze.
A Youth in Germany, based on a novel by expressionist writer Ernst Toller, is set in Munich after WW I, directed by Jan-Christoph Gockel, using a cast of actors and puppets.
The Politicians by Wolfram Lotz, directed by Felicitas Bruckner, is an important contemporary work. What should politicians do? What can they do?
RAUM + ZEIT present the world premiere of Lotha Kittstein’s Ghosts – Erika, Klaus and the Magician, a play about Thomas Mann and his family. It is based on two texts: “Siblings” by Klaus Mann, a play that was an epic failure at the Kammerspiele in 1930, and “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann. The play focuses on gender identity, power of the family and death. It digs for repressed family conflicts and gender questions.
Based on forgotten writer Gabriele Tergit’s domestic novel Effingers, director Jan Bosse will present a play covering the years 1870 to 1930.
The world premiere of Jeepsby Nora Abdel-Maksouk is a satirical vaudeville in three acts exploring the structural conditions of a society and the class divide. Another world premiere, directed by Visar Morina, is Flüstern in stehenden Zügen (Whispering in standing trains), a quirky story by Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz. C is alone, isolated, his phone is the only connection to the world. He contacts customer hotlines and spam e-mails.
One highlight will be Heldenplatz (Heroes Square) by Thomas Bernhard, a modern classic. There were two major protests in Austria following its premiere in 1988 at the Burgtheater in Vienna because of its strong criticism of Austrian society.
Barbara Mundel presents a varied and impressive program for her five years as Artistic Director, focusing on diversity and inclusion and with a strong female presence.
Written by Carolin Kopplin.
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