The festival will open on the 7th of June with Saigon, a play about moving life stories between France and its former colony, Indochina. The play by Caroline Guiela Nguyen – daughter of a Vietnamese emigrant – which will be performed on the entire stage of the main theatre by a large French-Vietnamese ensemble, reflects themes from the sixteen other guest shows that will follow, revealing historical entanglements, postcolonial structures and global power relations, examining human relationships and celebrating the narrative richness of different theatre forms.
History and present
In Mitleid: Die Geschichte des Maschinengewehrs, Milo Rau explores the boundaries of European humanism and bourgeois morals. Dorothée Munyaneza, who escaped the genocide in Rwanda when she was twelve, attempts to make the individual and collective trauma tangible through artistic means with Samedi Détente. A unique theatre experience awaits the audience with £¥€$ from Belgium, in which the public gambles with the international economy in the casino of capitalism. Julian Hetzel’s Schuldfabrik will take place in Braunschweig’s city centre, which starts in a designer pop-up store for soap and then takes its “customers” with him on a company tour of the modern selling of indulgences. Dieudonné Niangouna tells the story of a fictional ruler, Antoine, who sacrifices the political stability of his country to test the loyalty of his subjects. The virtual reality film Collisions in turn tells the story of Nyarri Morgan, who witnessed a British nuclear test when he was a young man in the Australian desert, while Race Cards by Selina Thompson from the UK is a walk-in installation about racism, to which the visitors can contribute themselves.
Because I Always Feel Like Running is one of the two solos by Ogutu Muraya, from Kenya, in which he examines the political dimension of the runner’s body through the history of East African top athletes. In contrast, with Fractured Memories, Muraya explores his own situation as a Kenyan artist living in Europe through James Baldwin’s writing. In Solo für Maria, Mozambican dancer Maria Domingos Tembe, choreographed by Panaibra Gabriel Canda, takes on the conflict between social expectations and women’s self-empowerment. Finally, in a lively, chatty tone Kevin Matthew Wong introduces the audience to the complexities of Canadian environmental politics in his lecture performance The Chemical Valley Project.
Coproductions and new discoveries
This year five plays will be produced in cooperation with renowned partners: the family drama Jungfrau, based on the prize-winning short story of the same name by Mary Watson, will have its world premiere in Braunschweig. Jade Bowers’ adaptation of the story is being produced in coproduction with the National Arts Festival Grahamstown in South Africa. The dance piece Theka from neighbouring Mozambique will be performed on the last Saturday of the festival on the main stage and was produced in coproduction with the Kinani Festival Maputo: Mozambican choreographers Horácio Macuácua and Idio Chichava will bring a strong-willed and light-hearted piece to the stage with their 14-member ensemble of musicians and dancers. The Theaterformen Festival will also coproduce three short pieces by Tito Aderemi-Ibitola, Kamogelo Molobye and Janeth Mulapha with the two African festivals. These will have their world premieres in the format 3x30 in Haus Drei.
Silent and invisible lives
Although Takuya Murakawa views theatre as a research institution and pursues radically conceptual approaches, Independent Living is anything but a calculated production in terms of content. It’s about care work, about the greatest intimacy and the greatest alienation that happens between two people in that process. This German-language version of the play from Japan will premiere in the LOT Theater and will recast the (silent) main role every night. Sopro by Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues is about a very different kind of relationship. Rodrigues has created a play with and about the prompter from the Lisbon National Theatre. Loyal to the theatre for thirty years, she doesn’t think much of her boss’s innovative directing idea at first, but in the end does play along a bit – a homage to the many invisible people who make theatre possible in the first place.
With its Programm+, as well as the theatre productions, the festival will also offer a wide-ranging additional programme of events with numerous partners such as the Braunschweig Art Society, the Braunschweig School for the Visual Arts and the University of Hildesheim. This will include workshops, podium discussions and events for professional theatre-practitioners. The tried-and-tested formats will also return: the festival will offer the audience play introductions, warm-ups and cool-downs, as well as evening concerts with acclaimed indie bands – including Ace Tee, Schrottgrenze, Fehlfarben, Sophia Kennedy and Jennifer Gegenläufer – in the Festival Centre in the Theaterpark. In the four weeks running up to the festival, the Universum Cinema will also show films whose themes intersect with the Theaterformen programme.