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Volksbühne Berlin: Artistic Director Klaus Dörr and his team present an initial summary, new personnel and the 2019/2020 season’s premieres

As part of a press conference in the Roter Salon today, Volksbühne Artistic Director Klaus Dörr and Managing Director Nicole Lohrisch, together with their team, presented an initial evaluation of their tenure, the theatre's new personnel and the premieres planned for the 2019/2020 season.

As things currently stand, the Volksbühne will conclude the current 2018/2019 season with a total of about 125,000 visitors and an occupancy rate of 80%. On the main stage there were 12 premieres with around 100 performances, six of which were in-house productions, two were transfers and four co-productions. In addition, 10 visiting productions came to the theatre for a total of 32 performances.

The theatre directorate for the new season was also presented, with Klaus Dörr as artistic director and Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson as director of drama. Lucia Bihler will be a resident director at the Volksbühne, and dramaturgs Ulf Frötzschner, Degna Martens and Hannah Schünemann will join the theatre's staff as well.

Beginning with the 2019/2020 season, there will be 15 new actors, in addition to Silvia Rieger and Sir Henry (John Henry Nijenhuis), in the Volksbühne ensemble: Sólveig Arnasdòttir, Malick Bauer, Manolo Bertling, Sarah Franke, Katja Gaudard, Sebastian Grünewald, Jella Haase, Paula Kober, Robert Kuchenbuch, Vanessa Loibl, Daniel Nerlich, Emma Rönnebeck, Sarah Maria Sander, Sylvana Seddig and Theo Trebs.

The overarching theme for the 2019/20 season is summarized in the term GESCHICHTSMASCHINE (machine of history). 2019 sees the anniversaries of the worldwide economic crisis of 1929, the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the resulting formation of West and East Germany in 1949. In 1969 Willy Brandt, the head of the SPD (Social Democratic Party), took up his work as chancellor with the dictum “we want to take a chance on more democracy” and began his pioneering Ostpolitik (policy towards East Germany) in the middle of the Cold War. Then, in 1989, the Iron Curtain crumbled. The GESCHICHTSMASCHINE focuses these shifts in history, comprehends the present retrospectively, tells stories and continues to write history. The perspective of the present will be used to pose new questions about four points of focus that correlate to the history of the 20th century: feminism, post-colonialism, identity politics and racism. These points will already come up in the opening premieres directed by Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson, Kay Voges and Claudia Bauer in September/October 2019.

In total, the coming season includes 14 new productions on the Volksbühne main stage and in the 3. Stock, nine of which will be world premieres. The season launch in September/October 2019 will be composed by Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson with Eine Odyssee based on Homer, Kay Voges with Right here - right now (working title) and Claudia Bauer with Germania based on Heiner Müller. The other directors for the coming season are: Lucia Bihler, Alexander Eisenach, Pınar Karabulut, Susanne Kennedy, Hans-Werner Kroesinger, Constanza Macras, David Marton, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Stefan Pucher and Marius Schötz, as well as a team of directors from the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts. The P14 youth theatre will also celebrate six premieres.

Dance will continue to play an important role at the Volksbühne. In the coming season we will continue our collaborations with choreographers Constanza Macras and Sasha Waltz and their companies. A new work by Constanza Macras is planned for February 2020. Sasha Waltz & Guests are presenting a two week showing at the beginning of April 2020. The productions to be shown include a revival of noBody, a work from 2012.

For June 2020 the Volksbühne is planning a transcultural theatre festival under the title POSTWEST. In Berlin, the European gateway to the East, the collectively built Volksbühne characterises itself with a dynamic history between East and West. The festival anchors itself in the Volksbühne as an in-between place, opens a window that faces east and turns the art makers themselves into actors that shape attributions in their own fashions. In this spirit, established institutions and theatres from the independent scene in Eastern Europe have been invited as partners, including: Gertrudes iela teatris (Riga, Latvia), Prague City Theatres (Prague, Czechia), Theatre POST (St. Petersburg, Russia), Dakh Theatre (Kiev, Ukraine) and TRWarszawa (Warsaw, Poland).

The music programme (curated by Christian Morin) and the literary programme (curated by Sabine Zielke) will continue to offer space for extraordinary programmes that help shape and define the underlying atmosphere of the Volksbühne. The Roter Salon remains a respected address for concerts, readings, discussions and philosophy, presented in an informal environment. Philosopher Armen Avanessian is continuing to host his discussion series Armen Avanessian & Enemies. Das Theoretische Duett empfiehlt Taktiken des Verharmlosens is an event of conversations and film snippets about pop culture as it relates to classical music. Every Sunday, week in, week out, the Reformbühne Heim & Welt hosts guests from the realms of literature, satire, poetry slam and music. And punk has recently returned to the Volksbühne with Vergessene Arbeitskämpfe - ein Punk Abend: punk evenings of forgotten workers’ struggles organised by the theatre's technical staff.

The Grüner Salon was leased out for a long time. This year it was re-launched as a location for visual arts and discussion. In its intimate atmosphere, artists, thinkers, Berliner communities and initiatives present their works. It's a space for the diversity that defines Berlin, with both long-term cooperations and spontaneous actions. Regular partners currently include the School of Disobedience, Bard College, Nazis & Goldmund, the UDK, ASSEMBLE, radioeins and the Freitag Salon with Jakob Augstein. The programme is run by Elodie Evers and Adela Yawitz.

The Glaspavillon next to the Volksbühne is slipping into new garbs this year: as one of the theatre's permanent venues with the name LVX (a reference to its surroundings and their namesake), it offers exhibition space for visual artists and collectives. The Berlin initiative Starship inaugurated LVX last month. Over the rest of 2019 it will host exhibitions by Klaus Weber (Berlin) and Aviva Silverman (New York), curated by Elodie Evers.

And P14 is remaining autonomous. With the slogan Macht Euer Theater selber, (Make your theatre yourselves), P14, the Volksbühne's youth theatre group under the artistic leadership of Vanessa Unzalu Troya, will present works directed by young people who want to pursue their own theatrical vision or discover one. Bonn Park's Drei Milliarden Schwestern (Three Billion Sisters) was awarded the Friedrich-Luft-Preis in 2018 and Josefin Fischer's and Elias Geißler's Core of Crisis was honoured with an invitation to the Theatertreffen der Jugend festival. In the 2019/2020 season another six premieres from P14 will be celebrated in the 3. Stock.

More information on all topics can be found in the documents for the press conference attached. Please contact the press office with your press ticket, interview and photo requests by writing to or calling on +49 (0)30 24065 610.

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