Between Panoramas And VR: What Does It Mean To Be Immersed?

Interview with Dr. Robin Curtis, professor of media studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg who puts herself between theory and practice with expertise both in filmmaking and in researching the history of immersion. How did you start to become more immersed in the concept and history of immersion? I was already teaching at the university when I got the opportunity to start a PhD. I was interested in autobiographical film and how it constructs a particular fictional self but claims that it is factual. It makes claims about the world and history, about a certain physical place inside history, and invites the viewer...

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Thomas Ostermeier’s “Returning To Reims”

Plays set in recording studios, in my experience, are usually stories of entrapment. The spaces themselves—the soundproof walls and windows, the microphones poised to expose people’s emotional innards, the expensive equipment with its vague techno-promise of newness—are harbingers of pressure and trouble even before anyone enters them. Think of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, where masterful black musicians gather to produce art and instead find themselves in a crucible of racism and exploitation that explodes in on them. And think of Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio, where a popular shock-jock provokes, insults and brutishly titillates his callers, feeding voraciously...

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Legacy Of Life: Rimini Protokoll’s “Nachlass: Pièces Sans Personnes”

Nachlass: German word composed of “nach” (after) and the verb “lassen” (to leave). “Nachlass” corresponds to the whole of material and immaterial goods left by a deceased person. In a more specific sense, especially in research, “Nachlass” indicates the totality of records (letters, works, documents…) that were in the possession of a person or a collection that a person has built during his or her lifetime. —Extract from Rimini Protokoll’s official site. Nachlass: Pièces Sans Personnes is the latest work by the German collective Rimini Protokoll, counting Swiss director Stefan Kaegi and scenographer Dominic Huber as its creators. And,...

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“The Virgin Suicides” Dying In The Age Of Suicide

A Production of the Munich Kammerspiele winner of XIV Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, 2017 Inspired by the 1993 novel The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and the 1999 film adaptation by Sofia Coppola, Susanne Kennedy’s production looks at the difficult issue of teenage suicide that has become a curse of today’s society. An exploration of the impossible journey through a near-death experience, the production is structured after the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. It follows the death voyage of the now deceased 13-year-old girl, Cecilia, from the highly religious Lisbon family in the US. To those familiar with the novel, Kennedy’s adaptation might appear...

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“Roma Arnee” Doing it Right! Production Of Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin

Doing It Right! Yael Ronen, an Israeli theatre director working for the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, has a reputation of one of the most socially, culturally, and politically aware theatre artist of Europe. The Gorki’s latest creation–Roma Armee that premiered in Berlin in September 2017–is a proof in point. Devised by the international team of eight performers, all ethnic Roma, this production speaks directly to the most dangerous tendencies in the post-Brexit Europe: such as rising nationalism, xenophobia, and racism. With Ronan’s earlier productions Third Generation that featured German, Israeli and Palestinian actors and The  Situation that looked into the political situation in the...

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Theatre Is Not Happy Any More In Crisis: The Internet and Performing Arts

It’s often stated that performing arts reflect changes in society. But how does this look when we face such major changes, changes the information society is facing with the digital transformation that is radically altering our style of communication? This is an interview about these changes with Ulf Otto, professor of Hildesheim University and author of the book Internetauftritte. How did you start to research the relationship between the internet and performing arts? When I was a teenager I was more a computer person as I grew up in the first digital wave. There was at the time a new subject...

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Theatre And Immersion: “You Enter Yourself Into This Space”

Immersion means experiencing. What does this mean for the theatre? Thomas Oberender, Artistic Director of the Berliner Festspiele, talks about his program focus “Immersion.” Mr. Oberender, the Berliner Festspiele has a new, multi-year program focus: “immersion.” What’s behind it? I hit upon the idea three years ago at an International Literature Festival workshop about the transfer of the material of novels to computer games. “Immersion” refers to an aesthetic principle that aims at the production of a particular form of immediacy, so to say at plunging into the subject instead of adopting an attitude of detached observation. A proven...

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Interview With Heidi Wiley On The Creation Of European Theatre Convention (ETC)

Heidi Wiley: With the creation of ETC, its founders wanted to establish a new form for international collaboration and artistic exchange between European theatres. Recently, Ukrainian theatrical space has begun a slow, but irreversible depressurization. Despite all the complexities and inertia of the post-Soviet system of organizing theatrical affairs, our theater moves slowly towards integration into the European theatrical process and revealing itself on the international artistic map. One of the markers of integration processes in the theater was the presence of network theater organizations that began to show interest in our local affairs, even lobby for theatrical reforms...

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What Comes After The Flight? Theatre and Migrant Life in Germany

The programmes of the 2017/2018 season are still defined by the theme complex “Migrant Life in Germany.” However, the theatres are also reacting strongly to the increasing number of autocrats who are transforming democratic state structures into presidential dictatorships. Alongside the customary mixed repertoire with a portion of classical plays and premieres of new dramas, the programmes comprise an abundance of productions on post-migrant life in Germany. Yet the focus is no longer a cursory engagement with the fate of the refugees, but the question: “What comes after the flight?” Responding to this, in most cases, are authors, directors,...

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Syrian Dancers Perform Show About Refugees and Migration in Berlin

A group of Syrian dancers is going on tour across Germany with a show that tells of the plight that made them flee their homeland and of the hopes they have for the future. In Come as You Are — directed by Berlin-based choreographer Nir de Volff — the three refugees recount how the war in Syria started, their escape and journey through Europe and what it is like finding their dancing feet in a new country. “In 10 years, Syrians will lead some German companies. Syrians will be the directors of German theatres and Syrian musicians will play...

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Thomas Ostermeier’s “Richard III” at BAM

Richard Crookback is Shakespeare’s dazzling carnival monster, a showoff criminal who charms us into reveling in his villainy. It’s a no-brainer to make him funny-scary in production. Or over-the-top disgusting, or intimidating, or lurid, or for that matter attractive. The sole requirement is a big, game ham. What’s really difficult—close to impossible, actually, after 424 years of sensationalizing—is to make him genuinely disturbing, to portray this monster in a way that breaks through our psychic defenses and plants sticky misgivings about ourselves and our world in our minds. Thomas Ostermeier’s astonishing production of Richard III, visiting BAM from the Schaubühne...

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The Wuppertal Tanztheater Returns To Its Origins With “Café Müller” And “The Rite Of Spring”

The ghost of Pina Bausch was no doubt fluttering with excitement around the NAC last month as the contemporary formation of her company brought us all back to the very origins of the idea of Tanzthe a ter, dance that incorporates words, foregrounds a heightened form of theatricality, and much much more. All that came through very strongly last night in the Opera of the NAC before a packed house, waiting religiously to see the company from Wuppertal perform works that most people have not seen before in Ottawa. In 1984 when the company first came to this city...

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On Liberation And Progression – “Theatertreffen in Hong Kong”

It was an achievement that West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and Goethe-Institut Hong Kong invited two of the seven juries of this year’s Berliner Theatertreffen to hold a two-day seminar called Theatertreffen in Hong Kong on the renowned festival, as well as a discussion between the seminar participants and the juries. Before we the participants attended the seminar, we had to watch all the ten productions that were selected as ‘notable productions’ among 377 productions produced within the German-speaking region in the past season. The style of these 10 productions varies. From traditional theatrical approach like Thalia Theatre’s Der...

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Theatre Of Remembrance: Geschichtliches Gefuhl

Hardly another art form is better suited for the work of remembrance than the theatre as a medium of presence. The stage can make the past present without having to commit itself to the facts down to the last detail. “To invent is to remember”, the actor Joachim Meyerhoff once noted in one of his memoir- novels based on his autobiographical reading performance Alle Toten fliegen hoch (All The Dead Fly Up On High) at the Vienna Burgtheater. In a very free interpretation of vouched-for facts, Meyerhoff fables together his life. Interestingly, however, the result coincides with the memories of his...

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Analog Virtual Reality Worlds of SIGNA Performance Group

Signa and Arthur Köstler are the creative directors of SIGNA, the well-known performance installation company. Their latest performance, Das Heuvolk, took place near Mannheim in Benjamin Franklin Village during the bi-annual Schillertage Festival organized by the National Theatre of Mannheim. Their productions are famous for taking place in big houses for approximately one month, and by their site-specific characteristics, they can create a sense of being in a parallel universe, where their audience can wonder around from room to room for a whole evening. During this time they can chat with the numerous cast of actors, find out the rules of their system, eat,...

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Experimental Arrangement In The “In Between”

Every two years, four cities in Franconia host an international puppet theater festival. A look at the festival program 2017 shows: the concept of “puppets” and “theater” is very broad. For ten years now the International Puppet Theatre Festival in Erlangen, Nuremberg, Fürth, and Schwabach, which takes place every two years and is one of the most important theatre scene meetings in Europe, has borne the subtitle: “Puppets. Objects. Images.” This makes it clear that “puppet theatre” here is understood in a very broad sense, both with respect to “puppets” and with respect to the understanding of “theatre”. Accordingly, the...

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Avignon Part 6: Frank Castorf’s “Die Kabale der Scheinheiligen. Das Leben des Herrn de Molière”

Based on 136 play The Cabal of Hypocrites by Mikhail Bulgakov, with additional texts by Pierre Corneille, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Molière, Jean Racine. Frank Castorf’s reputation precedes his creations. The director-monumentalism is known for his epic adaptations of the western literary canon and innovations in stage design, specifically the use of film on stage.  Die Kabale der Scheinheiligen lives up to its reputation. It presents a full range of Castorf’s directorial palette.  Even if the six-hour theatrical marathon might feel a little over-stretched – do we really need a clown routine with a chair for another 20 minutes? – the play...

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A Globalised Approach to Theatre-Making

The past weekend witnessed the culmination of a global theatre project at Theater Freiburg, an independently owned cultural space in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, with a provenance that dates back two centuries. Since the autumn of 2015, the Human Trade Network, which is supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, has facilitated a creative consortium of theatre companies from three continents to research perspectives on human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide. One of the collaborating teams is the prolific Indian Ensemble from Bengaluru, which operates under the stewardship of the multifaceted Abhishek Majumdar. The four theatrical productions that emerged from this...

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“The Ridiculous Darkness” Is An Instruction Manual For Reality

For the first time, The Ridiculous Darkness by Wolfram Lotz will be staged twice in Brazil. For the 2017 Palco Giratório theatre festival, the directors Camilo de Lelis and Alexandre Dill are each putting their interpretation of the play on stage in a first for Brazil. The Ridiculous Darkness exposes our inability to accept those who do not live according to Western standards. As Sartre said, “Hell is just – other people.” Can the problem be solved and can theatre help solve it? Wolfram Lotz: I think so. But I guess it’s not helpful to think that it’s just...

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Berlin Turkish Theater Festival Kicks Off

The Berlin Turkish Theater Festival kicked off on July 1, 2017 in the German capital, Berlin. Hosted by Tiyatro28 and under the sponsorship of Turkey’s Berlin Consulate General, the 2nd Berlin Turkish Theater Festival will last until July 9. The festival kicked off with Palto, The Overcoat adapted to theater from the story of Nikolai V. Gogol with the same name. Directed by Mine Acar, the play features an officer, played by Kadri Özcan, whose coat, which did not come to him easily, is stolen. On July 5, the solo play by Müfit Can Saçıntı, Lafını Esirgemeyenler (Those Who Don’t...

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