Volksbühne in Athens

The famous Berlin theatre comes to the Athens Festival, where it will present three major stage productions, along with everything one needs to have the full Volksbühne experience: films, installations, German beer, discussions, parties, concerts, textile printing service, performances. The myth goes like this: in 1992, Berlin politicians handed over the artistic direction of the Volksbühne to the already established albeit radical director Frank Castorf. The appointment came with a warning: Castorf was to either make Volksbühne famous within the next two years or the theatre would be forced to close down. Nowadays, one could argue that Volksbühne has indeed become famous – in fact, it has become one of the most important and celebrated theatres in the world. Following the reunification, the Volksbühne quickly established itself as a unique institution in Berlin, influencing theatre-makers in Germany and around the world. In the late nineties, “do it like Volksbühne” was a regular expression among young German directors. Today, when Greek audiences sometimes refer to a show as “quite German,” they usually mean characteristics originally attributed to the Volksbühne. Over the years, veteran and young directors alike have created productions that have left their mark on local and international audiences and have been presented on tours around the world. In addition to Castorf, directors like Christoph Marthaler, the writer/director René Pollesch, and the filmmaker Christoph Schlingensief made their home at the Volksbühne and developed their personal style through their continuous work at the Berlin theatre for years on end. From the outset, talented actors were another driving force of the Volksbühne, among them Kathrin Angerer, Martin Wuttke and Herbert Fritsch, all of whom contributed to the development of a strong, anarchic, distinctly Volksbühne acting style, though each of them was certainly unique and different in their own way. These performers continue to collaborate with the Volksbühne on a regular basis and will also participate in the productions presented in Athens.

Volksbühne has not only shaped acting styles and dramaturgical approaches. It has also broadened our perceptions of what a theatre production can be like, beyond the narrow scope of “pure” drama. It has brought forth a new idea of what a theatre as an institution in the context of the city can be like. Visual artists and filmmakers such as Christoph Schlingensief or Ragnar Kjartansson successfully found their way on the theatrical stage. Radical transformations of the auditorium have generated unique events of different genres. Discussions with scientists and artists have been organized at the Volksbühne since the nineties and have since found their way into the programmes of many other institutions. For several years, the theatre had been travelling through different neighbourhoods of Berlin through its Rollende Road Show. Nowadays schedules, one can come across startling performances when leafing through the theatre’s programme, listed under categories such as “listen,” “read,” “talk,” “watch.” Concerts, readings, conversations, and movies are given equal emphasis and importance to theatrical productions. In true Volksbühne spirit, the performances presented in Athens will not constitute theatre productions in the narrow sense of the word. Along with Frank Castorf’s adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler and Herbert Fritsch’s Murmel Murmel, the Volksbühne team will present René Pollesch’s I love you, but I’ve chosen Entdramatisierung inside the wagons of Rollende Road Show that will be set up in the courtyard of Peiraios 260. In addition to theatrical performances, the wagons will also host concerts, films, installations, conversations, and a textile printing service, giving us the perfect excuse to stay up all night, enjoying German beer. The well-known Berlin DJ Duo Portobello, also members of Volksbühne, as well as various discussions will complement the musical and performative programme. Come and visit the Volksbühne-Area every night!

 

 

ATHENS SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS LIBRARY
With the cooperation of Goethe-Institut Athen

17
June
19:00

Masterclass with Hans-Thies Lehmann
“Postdramatic theatre, and Berlin’s Volksbühne”

The eminent German theatre scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann will be a guest of the Festival on the occasion of the Volksbühne tribute. The author of Postdramatic Theatre (1999), a pivotal study of avant-garde theatre, Lehmann will give a masterclass titled “Postdramatic theatre, René Pollesch, and Berlin’s Volksbühne.” The often misunderstood concept of postdramatic theatre and the international artistic contributions of the Volksbühne and major artists linked to the Berlin theatre will be the subject of this masterclass.

 

PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
17 June
20:00-22:00, 23:30 until late
18 June
19:00-22:00, 23:45 until
19-20 June
20:00 until late

Volksbühne set opens!
Stands in the courtyard offering visitors a textiles printing service, a bar serving German beer, merchandise linked to the famous Berlin theatre, as well as William Minke’s photo exhibition No Way Home.

 

PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
17 - 18 June
22:00

René Pollesch
I love you, but I’ve chosen Entdramatisierung

“I was sitting around here the other day, the atmosphere was pleasant and I had a feeling of being at home when it came to me that this kind of thing – that is, home as a space for living – means nothing to the person opposite me. And suddenly I’m beginning to find the notion of home a bit absurd. I’m always willing to enter into a constructive dialogue with the other person, you know. Obviously, it’s difficult to conceptualize his living spaces in traditional terms. He has no home. Yet he is, of course, not homeless. As I make an attempt to change the subject altogether, I touch upon the topic of “future,” and it’s exactly the same thing: the future simply means nothing to him. The future has no relevance to him, at all.” A poignantly funny performance which raises major philosophical questions, set in the wagons of the Volksbühne’s Rollende Road Show.

Text - Direction: René Pollesch • Cast: Kathrin Angerer, Inga Busch, Trystan Pütter, Samuel Schneider • Set design: Lenore Blievernicht / Nina Peller with the wagons “Rollende-Road-Schau (RRS)” by Bert Neumann, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz 2000-2006 • Costume design: Nina von Mechow • Lighting design: Frank Novak • Camera: Mathias Klütz • Video: Ute Schall, Deniz Sungur • Video editing: Cemile Sahin • Sound: Hans-Georg Teubert, Georg Wedel • Boom arm: William Minke • Dramaturgy: Anna Heesen

With Greek surtitles

 

PEIRAIOS 260 – COURTYARD
17 June
23:30

Party with DJ set by DJ Duo Portobello

 

PEIRAIOS 260 – COURTYARD
17 June
23:30

William Minke
No Way Home: Volksbühne 2004-2017

Between 2004 and 2017, there must not have been more beautiful people. And dating precisely from this time, there happens to be a book and in this book, oddly enough, there is this very text.
René Pollesch

Volksbühne has long been shaping the image of Berlin like no other institution. In his brand-new photo book, titled No Way Home, photographer William Minke assembled a selection of photographs taken during his time at Volksbühne.
Minke’s long-time collaboration with the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz started in 2004, when he worked at Frank Castorf’s Kokain. Subsequently, he worked in other productions by Castorf, René Pollesch and many other noted directors.
For thirteen consecutive years, the unique Berlin theatre has been a home to Minke, with many of his colleagues becoming close friends over the years. His book brings back to life a few snapshots from an era long gone; it also serves as a reminder that one cannot altogether comprehend a place such as Volksbühne even if one tries.
William Minke is a freelance photographer. He lives in Berlin. From 2007 to 2010 he studied at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin, completing a Master’s degree under Ute Mahler and Robert Lyons in 2012. In his previous works (“Love Is a Battlefield,” “End of Crisis”) he approached events such as rifle and sex conventions or cruise ships from a subjective angle.

No Way Home will be presented concurrently with the party hosted by DJ Duo Portobello
 

 

 

 

PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
18 June
19:00-20:30

 

 

A talk about Volksbühne

 

PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
18
June
23:45
19
June
23:00

Schumann – A Poet’s Love or The Return of the Riding Corpses
Based on Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe

This June marks yet another anniversary of the Distomo massacre, perpetrated by Nazi forces in June 1944. How are the memories of this massacre linked to Robert Schumann’s song-cycle Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love), the acme of German Romanticism's Kunstlied, or poetic song? This artistic self-experiment is dedicated to the major composer, exploring his influence on German pop and avant-garde rock music. The title also references a Spanish horror movie: the dead rise again as memories are revived: in this case, the memories of the enraged, massacred townsfolk of Distomo. An evening of Romanticism which speaks against the control centres of political correctness in Europe and California, the East and the West. An evening with overcooked German meatballs and plenty of ouzo. Naturally, a meat grinder will be used.

Participants: Bernhard Schütz, Reinhold Friedl (piano), Maximilian Brauer, Lilith Stangenberg, Henning Nass, and the band Fucking Famous

 

PEIRAIOS 260 D
19 - 20 June
19:00

Frank Castorf
The Gambler / Der Spieler

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler in a critical moment of his life. After years of exile in a labour camp in Siberia, he returned home to find his wife dying. Soon afterwards, his brother and his best friend both suffered early deaths. Devastated, he travelled to Germany to escape his creditors. In no time, he had gambled away his last money and the copyrights to all his books. In urgent need of money, he wrote The Gambler in twenty-six days. Frank Castorf, the outgoing director of Volksbühne, has adapted several of Dostoyevsky’s novels. In this production, he employs his singular style of theatre and a strong cast, while also making use of impressive live film sequences. The director views Dostoyevsky’s literary manifesto of compulsive gambling as “a magnificent, vividly dynamic firework of stagnation and standstill,” informed by the writer’s harrowing life.
Co-production: Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and Wiener Festwochen 2011

Direction: Frank Castorf • Cast: Alexander Scheer (Alexei Ivanovich), Sophie Rois (Grandmother Antonida Vasilevna Tarasevitcheva), Kathrin Angerer (Paulina Alexadrovna), Hendrik Arnst (General Sagorjanski), Georg Friedrich (Marquis des Grieux), Margarita Breitkreiz (Mademoiselle Blanche), Mex Schlüpfer (Mr. Astley), Frank Büttner (Madame la Comtesse de Cominges & Potapytsch), Sir Henry (In the crocodile) • Set - Costume design: Bert Neumann • Lighting design: Lothar Baumgarte • Music: Sir Henry • Camera: Andreas Deinert, Mathias Klütz • Live editing: Jens Crull • Sound: Klaus Dobbrick • Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser

With Greek surtitles

 

19 June
23:00

Post-performance talk with Frank Castorf

ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ 260 - ΠΡΟΑΥΛΙΟ / PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
19 June
21:15
20
June
23:00

Markus Öhrn
Bergman in Uganda

Video installation

Filmed in the slums of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, this video installation by award-winning Swedish artist Markus Öhrn familiarizes viewers with a matchless tradition one can only find in Kampala: live film translation. Inside small huts in the slums surrounding the capital, international movies, mostly blockbusters, are shown to the locals, with video jockeys presenting them and providing commentary. Not only do these VJs explain the plot to the viewers, they also translate the dialogue on the spot and give information on Western customs and patterns of behaviour. The VJs are big stars in Kampala, with a fan following of their own. Öhrn asked one of the most popular VJs to show Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966), one of the most important art films of world cinema. Öhrn then filmed that peculiar cinephilic adventure and translated the live lecture into English. The result is a new version of Bergman’s famous film: Persona narrated to us through a distinctly African perspective, through Ugandan eyes.
Co-operation: Swedish Arts Grants Committee, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin, Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brüssel and Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam.

 

ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ 260 - ΠΡΟΑΥΛΙΟ / PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
18 June

01:00
19 June
00:30

Goshawk 
Unlimited World Tour IX: 1. Aegean
Micro Disk

Berlin is not only one of the greenest cities in Europe: it also has the highest density of goshawk population in the world. The goshawk is a rather strongly-built raptor. According to experts, goshawks spend most of their time sitting around instead of flying high. It seems that only the daftest specimen migrate southwards to fly to Athens! But hey, what the heck! With this gig in Greece, the Berlin-based band Goshawk, a regular fixture at the Volksbühne, will kick off their ninth world tour which will take them through five continents in the span of 38 months. Their stage equipment is distributed over eight heavy trucks, carrying their impressive set and lighting design.

Musicians: Leonard Neumann (bass), Norman Schulz (guitar), Richard Lucius (drums)

 

ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ 260 - ΠΡΟΑΥΛΙΟ / PEIRAIOS 260 - COURTYARD
20 June
21:15

René Pollesch
Bad Decisions

A film

“Now, this is how I'm gonna die, maybe – I'll be lying there telling myself, surely there are things out there I could’ve sugarcoated? And I'm sure I'll be coming up with some idea after all. I'm unable to do anything anymore. I can't even get myself to act sour any longer. What I could do is try to get someone else to go sour. Recently I was invited to a small dinner somewhere by someone who would regularly smash his plates. Having smashed all his plates, he had no tableware. And I went like: “Why is there no tableware?” And he said: "Well, you gotta be resourceful.” What, he smashes his plates and then goes on to try to come up with some idea to cope with it? I've no idea what he's going do about it. Eating from the floor, borrowing plates from the neighbours, I've no idea.” The 2016 film Bad Decisions was developed concurrently with the rehearsals for Pollesch’s play “I Love You, but I’ve Chosen Entdramatisierung.”
Screenplay - Direction: René Pollesch • Cast: Trystan Pütter, Samuel Schneider, Franz Beil. Inga Busch, Martha von Mechow, Benjamin Pahlke, Kathrin Angerer, Volker Spengler • Camera: Ute Schall, Mathias Klütz • Set design: Bert Neumann • Costume design: Nina von Mechow • Editing: Ute Schall • Lighting design: Hannes Francke, Frank Novak, Georg Heinrich • Sound: Hans-Georg Teubert, Georg Wedel, William Minke, Gabriel Anschütz • Mixing: Jochen Jezussek • Camera assistant: Cemile Sahin • Assistant director: Esther Preußler • Dramaturgy: Anna Heesen
Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz 2016

 

ΘΕΑΤΡΟ ΟΛΥΜΠΙΑ / OLYMPIA THEATRE
23 - 24 June
21:00

Herbert Fritsch
Murmel Murmel / Mumbling
by Dieter Roth

A long-gestating project in the mind of German director Herbert Fritsch, Dieter Roth’s self-published 1974 book Murmel (Mumbling) is brought to the stage. Roth’s small brown-paper octavo volume consists of 178 pages which repeat a single word: “Murmel.” In 2012, Fritsch finally delivered on his promise. One of the most celebrated actors to be associated with the Volksbühne, Fritsch established himself in recent years as an award-winning director of dark comedies. His hilarious, madcap performance employs fourteen actors who continually mumble the book’s single word, elevating the text to a hypnotic, psychedelic experience which does justice to the late Roth, a prolific, experimental artist whose work is celebrated for its virtuosity, wild energy, and dark undertones.
Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel Murmel …
Direction - Set design: Herbert Fritsch • Cast: Florian Anderer, Matthias Buss, Werner Eng, Ingo Günther, Jonas Hien, Simon Jensen, Wolfram Koch, Annika Meier, Anne Ratte-Polle, Bastian Reiber, Stefan Staudinger, Axel Wandtke • Costume design: Victoria Behr • Music: Ingo Günther • Lighting design: Torsten König • Dramaturgy: Sabrina Zwach

 

The tribute is realized with the support of Goethe-Institut Athen and the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt)