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Of Dignity and Survival: Heidelberger Stückemarkt 2015

It’s been a week since the 2015 Stückemarkt theater festival in Heidelberg ended. The impressions, however, haven’t faded one bit.


Sand pouring down from plastic bags. A hen in the hands of a young woman with a face mask. A hysteric storyteller exposing a taboo into the spotlight. Three randomly captured impressions, you might think. But they are much more than that and have much more in common than you think. They were all about Mexico, theater, dedication to making a difference. More importantly, they conveyed the necessity to expose and handle injustice and pain through theater-making in a dignified manner. As brutality unfolded on stage, we were all facing important human questions pertinent to all of us. Questions that our (often convenient) daily routine might have put aside.

Words are powerful and I always choose them carefully to describe impressions. But this time I feel unable to find the right words to get across the feelings and essential questions that I had the honor to experience and will cherish in the years to come. So let me share an interview with Ángel Hernández Arreola, one of the Mexican theater makers, who will tell you more about the festival and his incredibly important work.

This year’s theater festival was extraordinary. The impeccable organization; the opportunity to see excellent works from other theaters across the German-speaking world; the diversity of the authors’ competition. They all contributed to making these 10 days unforgettable. What really made a difference, however, was the opportunity to experience Mexico, this year’s country in focus, through its various theater facets. The diversity of Mexican theater as well as the important role it can play in the Mexican society were eye-opening. The talent, honesty, authenticity, dignity, dedication, and courage of all present Mexican artists were impressive. Impressions and inspiration that will remain with me for a long time.


No Fun a.k.a. The Seagull

“No fun to hang around
Feelin’ that same old way
No fun to hang around
Freaked out for another day
No fun my babe
No fun”
The Stooges – No Fun

I can hardly imagine a more suitable contemporary song in English for Anton Chekhov‘s “The Seagull”… and I was glad to discover it in a staging at the theater of Heidelberg, Germany yesterday. Two well spent theater hours: free of clichés and platitudes, with a number of intertwined elements of humor, surprise or deep desperation, but remaining true to the intent of the author.

Author: Sid Mosdell; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Sid Mosdell; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

A spectacular Treplew (Dominik Lindhorst) embodying a wide array of disruptive emotions with ease and fervor. A less spectacular Arkadina (Nicole Averkamp). And the perpetual, restless attempt of everyone to escape mediocrity, and to forget who they really are consumed by a tragically hilarious obsession of becoming someone else… None of this is fun and all efforts seem to be doomed to fail amidst love, cruelty, hopelessness.

If it hadn’t been the somewhat too hectic pace and at times inexplicable nudity, it would have been one of the most coherent stagings I’ve seen. Still a clear recommendation and definitely worth seeing.

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