Helgard Haug, with Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel work together (in various combinations) under the name of Rimini Protokoll. They are recognized as being among the leaders and creators of the theatre movement known as “Reality Trend” (Theater der Zeit), which has exerted a powerful influence on the alternative theatre scene. Each project begins with a concrete situation in a specific place and is then developed through an intense exploratory process. They have attracted international attention with their dramatic works, which take place in that grey zone between reality and fiction. Since 2000, Rimini Protokoll has brought its “theatre of experts” to the stage and into city spaces, interpreted by non-professional actors who are called “experts” for that very reason. Since 2004 Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi und Daniel Wetzel are artists in residence at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) Berlin.
Among others, the three have created Shooting Bourbaki (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), which won the NRW-Impulse Prize in 2003 (the same year the “Theater” magazine yearbook called them the most promising young directors of the year); Deadline (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), presented in the Berlin Theatre Encounters in 2004; Schwarzenbergplatz (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), nominated in Austria for the Nestroy Prize for Theatre, and Wallenstein (Haug/Wetzel), performed in the Theatre Encounters in 2006.
Their extremely topical pièce, Mnemopark(Kaegi), won the Jury Prize at the Politik im freienTheater (Politics in Free Theatre) Festival, while Karl Marx: Das Kapital. Erster Band won the Mülheimer Dramatiker Prize in 2007. Last November, Haug with Kaegi and Wetzel was awarded the German DER FAUST prize for theatre and in April 2008 they gained the European Theatre Prize in Thessaloniki in the cateory New Realities. Call Cutta in a box won a Honorary Mention by the Prix Ars Electronica 09 (International Competition for Cyber Arts) in the category Interactive Art.
Helgard Haug will introduce some projects by focussing on the question how the theatre-text is sprawling between conceptual setting and process-based rehearsing.
If any feature characterizes the practice of postdramatic theatre then it is sampling. Instead of an identifiable authorial presence marked by the eponymous ‘dramatist’ we encounter directorial, compositional or curatorial functions embodied by an individual or by a group. What links all exponents is the practice of sampling: reworking found material and fashioning it into a new ensemble. This – for postdramatic theatre at least – new and dominant practice clearly has its origins in the old technique of collage developed in the context of Cubism. I shall discuss this practice with reference to two artists – the German director-composer Heiner Goebbels – who terms his artistic practice ‘sampling’ which is more than just a metaphor because he literally uses a ‘sampler’ to refashion preexisting musical material. This appears to be an uncontroversial and – in postdramatic theatre circles at least – much admired practice. This is less so with the new shooting star of the Germany literary scene Helene Hegemann whose novel Axolotl Roadkill was the centre of a plagiarism scandal. It transpired that the 17-year old author had copied sections of her acclaimed book from an underground novel by an internet blogger. Her argument that it was not plagiarism but ‘mixing’ (NY Times, 11.2.2010) was legally shaky but artistically sound in the context of the Berlin Volksbühne (her father is the dramaturg Carl Hegemann) where collage is the order of the day. The novel’s subsequent adaptation for the stage earlier this year would also suggest that her claim that “there is no originality only reality” has won out over nit-picking plagiarism hunters. Against the background of a plague of plagiarism cases in the scientific and political scene in Germany, I shall discuss the competing claims of ‘aesthetics of mixing’ against an ethics of authorial property.
Professor Christopher Balme currently holds the chair in theatre studies at the University of Munich. He was born and educated in New Zealand where he graduated from the University of Otago. He has lived and worked in Germany since 1985 with positions at the universities of Würzburg, Munich and Mainz. From 2004 to 2006 he held the chair in theatre studies at the University of Amsterdam. He has published widely on German theatre, intercultural theatre and theatre and other media. Prof. Balme is past-president of the German Society for Theatre Research, is the vice-president of the IFTR, was Senior Editor of Theatre Research International from 2004-2006. He currently edits the journal Forum Modernes Theater. Recent publications include Decolonizing the Stage: Theatrical syncretism and postcolonial drama, (Oxford 1999), Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Studies (Cambridge 2008). His introduction to theatre studies in German Einführung in die Theaterwissenschaft, originally published in 1999, is now in its 4th revised edition. His current research interests focus on the legacy of modernism in the globalization of the arts; theatre and the public sphere; the relationship between media and performance.