this edition of Festival Theaterformen is in many respects a new beginning on familiar ground. For me personally, it is a return to the city I grew up in, a city whose theatres made an impression on me from an early age, from the independent theatre community, to the years of Ulrich Khuon’s directorship at the Schauspiel Hannover, through to the Festival Theaterformen, which I have frequented regularly since 1995. This homecoming gives me the opportunity to get to know Hanover all over again. What strikes me in particular is the multitude of initiatives and organisations that help to shape the way people live together here. These many forms of engagement hold great potential for the city; over the past few months we have forged links with over 30 local initiatives, and these have become part of a large urban laboratory.
One theme I am bringing with me to the festival is accessibility. We are tackling this as a long-term process, supported by the disabled experts Noa Winter and Sophia Neises. Based on a detailed inventory in the theatres, we are planning short- and long-term improvements together with the Schauspiel Hannover. Our new offering is an audio description for visually impaired audience members and beanbags in all theatres as an option for people with chronic pain. And last but not least, this website, too, is accessible. This undertaking is closely connected with the anti-discriminatory work for which the festival is well known, and which we of course will be continuing.
One challenge we have faced this year is the pandemic, which has forced us to deal with an entirely new, constantly changing situation. This is where we are also reliant on your cooperation, for we must collectively re-learn how we can participate in cultural events safely once again. Thank you for accompanying us on this path!
One constant that remains is, of course, the programme taking place across the Staatstheater’s different theatres, a programme with a range of perspectives on issues that polarise us as a society. The invited artists ask how to behave towards a world that does not take everyone into consideration – and they assert their place within it. They come up with their own answers, as well as more questions: Luanda Casella, for example, translates hers into an entertaining quiz show that exposes prejudices. Lola Arias asks senior citizens and carers from Hanover about their everyday isolation and their visions for the future. Simone Dede Ayivi takes a peek into the kitchens of migrant families and asks about stories of food and homeland. And Manuela Infante asks herself what we can learn from stones, which, unfazed by the passing of time, offer up a silent resistance. Out of these questions, the artists develop different strategies for defying societal norms and expectations. Noëmi Lakmaier tests her body’s capacity to persevere, inviting us to a momentary encounter in the middle of a sandstorm. With his disabled body, Michael Turinsky rejects normative ideas of movement and mobility. Raquel Meseguer discovers an act of resistance in collective repose. Alice Ripoll brings buckets of water onto the stage in order to reduce attributive categories to a fluid state. Simone Aughterlony and Julia Häusermann test the boundaries of play and risk in a world that is becoming increasingly fragile. Mira Hamdi launches a full linguistic and bodily assault on discrimination. Samaa Wakeem contrasts the permanent state of anxiety in a conflict zone with her right to freedom. And Florentina Holzinger rejects any voyeuristic perspective on her cross-generational feminist ensemble, which combines classical ballet with spectacular stunts.
Under the title “We are in this together, but we are not the same”, we invite you to the Raschplatzhochstraße so you can take a new look, from above, at how we live together in this city. This will become, for the duration of the festival, a place of experimentation and reflection on the theme of climate justice, a place for trying things out. The climate crisis affects everyone, but it does not affect everyone equally. And neither is it caused by everyone equally. That is why climate justice is one of the central challenges of our time. At the heart of it lie perspectives we rarely hear about and yet can learn a lot from: artists with disabilities share their experiences of adapting to changes and budgeting with limited resources. Indigenous artists have also developed strategies of resistance to enable them to survive the end of a world they knew and understood. At the same time, this urban laboratory is created by 30 initiatives from Hanover that are committed to ecological, political and social issues.
The Cityring, including the Raschplatzhochstraße, is a symbol of this car-friendly city. Our aim is to contrast this vision of the past cast in concrete with the many visions of the future offered by the different people of this city. An architectural intervention by the urban planning collective endboss will open up a space of possibility on this site. Never before has there been such a large Theaterformen project in a public space. I feel it is time for art to bring its own capabilities to the table and open up spaces for fictions and speculations in the real world.
I warmly invite you to join us in changing our perspective.