VOLKSBÜHNE
Berlin

"Boris Charmatz, what can this 2,500-year-old
theatre ritual right now bring forth?"

"Since the roots of this ritual extend so far back in history, I would like to trace the changes and transformations it has undergone over the ages. The open-air performances of the great Greek amphitheatres are a long way from the Italian-influenced theatre of the nineteenth century. Even the ideological skirmishes around the Volksbühne show that any metamorphoses in the ritual are highly contentious. It seems to me there is something extremely fascinating about watching a performance at Volksbühne’s main stage today, in an age when people share images, films and texts instantaneously with each other over smartphones: how we experience a performance cannot be the same as it was twenty-five years ago. These days the last thing we all do before a performance is switch off our telephones. And often enough a performance begins amid a sea of glowing phone screens. If we think of the ritual of theatre as something immutable, we will get nowhere. The fact is that it never stops changing. If there’s anything still exhilarating about the dramatic action played out on the main stage of our theatre, it’s the possibility of experiencing that physical space as a mental one. As if, for a short moment in time, all of us – audience, actors and technicians – were living together inside the same brain. And living together in absolute solitude: seated on our chairs, standing on our stage, stationed in the wings. But within this fragile projection room, which is the entire space – concrete and symbolic – of the theatre, we are made a community through our solitude. I want to project myself into that mental space, not least because the latter only appears to be distinct from the real world, a world that continues to revolt around us. Art is not an antidote to reality, but rather its metamorphosis."

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