ITI Yearbook 2019

Page 1



German Centre of the International Theatre Institute


2 Dear reader, With the outbreak of the Coronavirus crisis, our theme of “Translations” suddenly felt strangely out of time in the face of a series of festival cancellations, the sudden disappearance of the theatre as a place of public sociability, and an overwhelming global travel ban. But if theatrical productions – be they performed live or taken from an archive – reach a globally connected world, this is a gain for exchanges across national borders: it can open up new themes and expand our ways of thinking. The multiplicity of new digital possibilities also directs our attention more strongly to the quality of the translation, of the surtitling into various languages, and to other forms of transfer. In addition, the fact that we should reflect on the “articulations” between cultures, and about inter- and transcultural mediation processes and their stakeholders, seems a given right now. Our yearbook is intended as a plea in favour of the numerous possibilities for an intelligent and sensitive shaping of the way we move within a free, open space for cultural exchange that transcends linguistic and national borders.


Dr Thomas Engel Director ITI


is represented by national centres nearly all over the world. The members of its German centre include approximately 200 theatre artists as well as representatives of associations and institutions from all areas of the performing arts in Germany. As part of the global non-governmental organisation International Theatre Institute, the German ITI centre is committed to many projects for the independent development of the performing arts, from the protection of the diversity of cultural expression to theatre artists’ rights. Theater der Welt, the German ITI’s festival, is organised every three years in a different city, and every edition is completely revised, both in terms of artistic concept and the staff involved. The festival is the German ITI’s most important project and without a doubt the most tangible representation of the work we do. The German centre is organising its own workshops within the festival, which are prepared and continued as part of its project orientated work.

Dr Yvonne Griesel works as an interpreter, translator and surtitler for several theatres and festivals and is a member of the board of the Forum for Drama Translation Drama Panorama. She was a teacher for translation training at the Humboldt University Berlin for many years and published several books on the topic of translation in theatre, most recently "WELTTHEATER VERSTEHEN“ (2014). With her company SPRACHSPIEL, she translates foreign language productions for festivals and guest plays.

of the way

r, transres and d of the Panoraraining r many on the ecently With her foreign d guest

The year 2019 was defined by calls for isolation, closed borders, nationalistic ambitions and racist resentments. This general turn in public discourse did not stop at the doors of our theatres. Criticisms were aimed at multilingual productions, international ensembles and experimental works. Cultural enrichment seems to be perceived as a threat. The longing for a theatre that, as in the 18th century, at the time of the Weimarer Hoftheater, sees itself as beholden to the German language, pervades public discourse. Fear is overcoming curiosity. Matthias Lilienthal, who, together with his multilingual ensemble, raised the Münchner Kammerspiele to the status of theatre of the year, lost his political support. Theatres had to defend the cosmopolitan positions they were taking in their work. Attempts to discredit them ranged from hate mail to parliamentary questions about the ‘lawfulness’ of public funding for theatres. Experimental venues are accused of spreading leftwing propaganda. The independent theatre scene is also worried it will lose its funding. It is clear that the increasing internationalisation of the theatre world does not automatically come with greater acceptance. Arabic being spoken on stage still elicits feelings of resentment. An increased number of People of Colour in the audience remains a normality that is only achieved once in a while in the theatre. The desire to turn the clock back a few centuries may appear to be a solution to many people who oppose diverse and globally connected theatre work – but it is not realistic. International cooperations have become a central, unavoidable and integral part of contemporary theatre work. Think, for example, of Kirill Serebrennikov, who has directed productions at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin via Skype while under house arrest in Moscow, Majd Feddah, who is a permanent member of the Münchner Kammerspiele ensemble and does not speak any German, or artists such as Yael Ronen, Gintersdorfer/Klaßen, Gob Squad or Rabih Mroué, who create a multilingual, transcultural referential space, which, as Larisa Schippel outlines, allows for something completely new to be created. In order to be able to move freely around this space, there is one thing, aside from a readiness to engage with it, that we need above all: translation. The contributions to the present yearbook shed light on various facets of translation in the performing arts and show what this can achieve – if you let it. In order to understand, we must perform an inner translation, says Wiebke Puls in relation to her work with the deaf performer Kassandra Wedel. We have to change our own position. And this is exactly what Toshiki Okada does, who has been directing plays in Munich for years, and found his way to this ensemble together with his interpreter and dramaturge Makiko Yamaguchi. He views the time during which the interpretation takes place as a space for reflection and sees value in this delay. Maja Zade tries to preserve specificities in her translations, Leyla Rabih builds bridges between German and French realities, and Kate McNaughton adapts the English language for an international audience that is dependent on English surtitles. Stefan Fischer-Fels sees it as his duty, in his children’s and youth theatre work, to carry out translation work at all levels. Many observers are not aware of how much work is being carried out behind the scenes – who is behind the surtitles, translations of plays and interpretations. And yet video artist Voxi Bärenklau is convinced that the simple presence of surtitlers during rehearsals would release a huge amount of creative potential. Technical advances have now happily made ever-more creative approaches possible. Resources such as surtitling programmes, LED walls, apps, VR glasses and others are constantly being improved and adapted to the requirements of the theatre. On top of all this comes the idea that artificial intelligence could soon take over literary translation and surtitling. Translation platforms such as DEEPL search the internet for sentences and clauses that have already been translated and create something like a kind of stylistic patchwork. This can work well for certain kinds of texts – but literary texts cannot be appropriately transferred in this way. Professional translators also search the internet: for parallel literary texts, glossaries, forums on translating colloquialisms, historical documents and various further sources which they then, with great sensitivity, contextualise in relation to the present and use for their translation of the text as a whole. Available translations are used as blueprints, and in the case of contemporary theatre, authors and translators are often in close contact. What makes the difference is the telephone call lasting several hours with a colleague in Moscow to discuss the nuances of a swear word, a young rapper’s explanation about why French rap won’t work used in this way for a touring production, or an apology to an actress because I cued a surtitle a quarter second too early. Years of expertise, professionalism and passion also make the difference in this line of work. Understanding can dispel fears. Good translations help to circumnavigate cultural pitfalls, allow completely new things to be born, and do not just enhance our knowledge, but also the performing arts. Going back to nationalistic mindsets is not an option. On the contrary, we would do better to think forward together, to find new, transparent paths for cultural transfer. Because the discourse around “What the Theatre Will Have Been”, as Christine Henniger and Maxim Wittenbecher put it, is formed jointly by theatre practitioners and the audience. Ideally – in the words of Umberto Eco – as an ‘opera aperta’.

Dr Yvonne Griesel


a series of travel ban. world, this city of new languages, t inter- and




03 10 A























6 PRACTICALITIES International theatre, productions touring to far-off places, multilingual productions and surtitles, and access and accessibility are now integral parts of the theatre landscape in German-speaking countries. How do we work with them?



Theatre Tr anslation Theatre translators are literary translators, often with a background in theatre practice or a degree in theatre or translation studies. The art of theatre translation involves transferring the use of language in a particular play into another language. One of the main challenges it involves is analysing each character’s voice. This is challenging work, and you should always ask an experienced theatre translator to carry it out. Support is available here: • • • or please contact theatre publishers and cooperatives, who all work closely with translators.

Multilingual Rehearsal Processes One option for multilingual productions is for the cast and team to communicate in English. However, when developing the basic concept for the production, or during the final rehearsal phase etc., everyone should be able to speak in their own mother tongue, to avoid any unconscious power dynamics emerging. Good interpreters are able to provide simultaneous interpreting, are wellacquainted with each of the relevant theatre cultures, and can thus help to avoid any intercultural pitfalls. For this process, precise interpretation that does not distract from the director’s presence is extremely important. Support, for example for the simultaneous interpretating of opening speeches, is available from the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). If you require the assistance of an interpreter during your rehearsal process, we recommend searching for one in the database of the German-Speaking Literary and Academic Translators’ Union, the Verband deutschsprachiger Übersetzer:innen literarischer und wissenschaftlicher Werke (VdÜ). Alternatively, you could also contact translation studies and interpretation students, or interpreters in your community.

ON-STAGE TRANSFER SURTITLING When surtitling, the language spoken on stage, which was specifically written to be spoken out loud, must be adapted into a written form that must be readable within seconds, without however adulterating its style. This form of translation comes on top of the source language being spoken on stage, what is visible on stage, and the gestures and mimics of the actors. The aim is to ensure that the audience needs to read as little as possible and can look at the stage as much as possible. Because surtitles usually attract a lot of attention to themselves, it is essential that they are handled professionally: surtitles that are displayed unprofessionally or out of rhythm, or surtitles that include translation mistakes can have a very negative effect on a production – for the audience, but also for the artists involved.

TECHNICAL IMPLEMENTATION Technically, surtitles are displayed using a projector, LED panels, Met Titles (small screens in the seats in front of each audience member), tablets, smartphones or smart glasses. The translation work involved mostly remains the same whatever the media used. Various software programmes can be used to generate surtitles. These include programmes that are free of charge, such as PowerPoint and Glypheo, or licensed programmes such as Easytitler, Spectitular, Torticoli, Maestro or VICOM. The most recently developed programmes are better adapted to the task of surtitling and easier to use. Support in this field is available from, among others: Subtext, Sprachspiel, Werkhuis, Maison Antoine Vitez, AMDA, Precott Studio, Panthea or Bürozwei.

INTERPRETING OF PRODUCTIONS For productions that are very text-heavy, that use improvisation or whose set design does not allow for any projections, interpretation can be an appropriate option. Simultaneous interpreting requires the highest degree of concentration and a subtle understanding of what is happening on stage, and must absolutely be entrusted to professional theatre interpreters. It is usually advisable for audience members to wear headphones on one ear only, since they must also be able to register what is happening

on s leave pose Inter rega tion boot impo usin For m Berli thea und

Alterna • • • • •

In Tr Tr be Sh La


Ofte latio impl erag 1,500 tour ing p • If su • Al m an an m pe la la to • If in pr to pr tio • Ma vi • Ch ni an lin

was pted nds, ansn on mics eeds much tenpronally mis– for

ctor, s in ones mostious tles. such mes r VIbete. hers: itez,

imany tion. gree at is ed to able only, ning

on stage in parallel. Bone conduction headphones, which leave the ear open, are particularly well-suited to this purpose. Interpretation technology: should you have any questions regarding interpretation technology, there are various national and regional companies that rent out interpreting booths, including headphones and technical support. It is important to inform them about the conditions you will be using them in, which are specific to the theatre. For more information: Bondas, Irina: Theaterdolmetschen, Berlin: Frank & Timme 2013 and Griesel, Yvonne (ed.): Welttheater verstehen: Übertitelung, Übersetzen, Dolmetschen und neue Wege, Berlin: Alexander Verlag 2014.

Alternative Forms • • • • •

Interpreting actors on stage. Translated texts that are learned off by heart. Translations summarising the play handed out before the performance. Shadow interpreters, who interpret behind the actors. Large areas of text as projected translations.

TOURING PRODUCTIONS Often the host theatre or festival takes care of the translation and surtitling, which unfortunately frequently implies an increased risk of mistakes being made. An average-length production has on average between 800 and 1,500 surtitles. In order to ensure a smooth process for touring productions, you should bear in mind the following points: • If possible, insist that the production bring their own surtitlers with them. • Always use the existing surtitle matrix (the rhyth mically correct, shortened surtitles generated in an appropriate software programme) as a template for any translation into additional languages. Should the matrix not be available in the original language being performed on stage, then you should use the original language script of the play as the basis for the trans lation itself. Translating via a third languages can lead to mistakes and can have Chinese-whisper-like effects. • If translators or surtitlers are provided by the host institution, they should be put into contact with the production team, so that both parties can work together on the translation. At the very least, the production team should ask to be shown the transla tion in advance of the opening night. • Make contact with the technical teams responsible for video and lighting at the host venue. • Check the set-up of the surtitle screens before the ope ning night, paying attention to the following aspects: any optical interference with the set design, maximum line length, height, brightness, colour, font, etc.

HOW ARE SURTITLES MADE • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Surtitlers receive a DVD of the production and the script of the play. The script is compared to the DVD. If possible, the surtitler attends a performance before starting work. Translation of the text of the play using the script and DVD. Creation of the surtitle version (surtitle matrix). Adaptation of the titles to the rhythm of the play. Technical set-up in collaboration with stage technicians. Live surtitle rehearsals in the theatre (during at least two dress rehearsals and the final dress rehearsal). Multiple rounds of corrections, repeated adjustment of the surtitles to the rhythms of the actors’ speech, to the ideal reading speed, etc. Surtitles displayed on opening night. Evaluation of the opening night together with the director, making amendments as necessary. Improvement and adaptation of surtitles following every performance. Usually, you will have found your “inner surtitle matrix” by the third performance, so that the surtitles can be “breathed together” with any further performances.

ACCESSIBILITY The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Dis-abilities has been in force in Germany since 2009, and is intended to enable equal participation in social life for people with disabilities. Germany has a lot of catching up to do in terms of such participation compared to other countries. Accessibility can be promoted by taking various basic measures. Many institutions are often already equipped with wheelchair ramps, lifts and audio induction loops. But theatres often still lack: • Audio description. • Sign language interpreters (to the side of the stage, or as a shadow interpreter on stage). • Captions (surtitles tailored to the needs of hearing impaired audience members and which can be turned on optionally using Met Titles, apps or AR glasses). • Surtitling into spectators’ mother tongues that is clearly visible and thus can be used as a support by other groups of audience members (older audiences, slightly hearing-impaired individuals). • Accessible language, for example in the programme.

Support is available from: • •

Consultancy from companies specialised in surtitling, such as for example Audioscript, Hoerfilm, Stagetext and many others. Consultancy from professional associations of sign language interpreters.


l parts of



"WHAT DO SURTITLES IN THE THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?" "Theatres with surtitles activate my imagination. Surtitles offer variations to the performance, which can be surpassed or undermined, confirmed or refuted at


any moment. If the show offers surtitles, it allows me to participate in three moments at the same time: before the action, in the action, after the action, and what’s coming is already prepared. A performance that is surtitled or interpreted with sign language is theatre in five dimensions for me, instead of the usual four."

Ute Scharfenberg was Head Dramaturge at the Theater Magdeburg and Hans Otto Theater Potsdam until 2018. She currently works as a l­ ecturer in Production Dramaturgy at the University of Toronto and as a production dramaturge at the Canadian Stage Company.

PotsniverYEARBOOK ITI 2019





By Kate McNaughton In her excellent essay-cum-memoir, “This Little Art”,1 Kate Briggs uses her own attempts to translate Roland Barthes’ last lecture series into English as the basis for a reflection on the art of literary translation. Barthes, she tells us, viewed literature as containing all other forms of knowledge, since a literary text is always an expression of the time it is written in, including all of its characteristics: scientific, philosophical, technological, artistic… Barthes was particularly piqued by the fact that, in French, the words “saveur” (“taste”) and “savoir” (“knowledge”) have the same etymological root – he took it as a confirmation of his theory that the “saveur” of a word and the “savoir” it contains are inextricably linked.


xtending this view of literature to translation, Briggs posits: “Working with the taste of words – with how different words in different languages taste differently – the translator is dealing, always then, with knowledge, with the mass of different and potential knowledges of the world, upon which we work and act and which act and work upon us.”2 As translators, we are thus taking the words of one language, with all their particular taste and the knowledge they contain, and trying to find words in a different language that most closely appro-

ximate both this taste and this knowledge – a task that is doomed to fail, since no two words in d ­ ifferent languages ever sound the same and mean exactly the same thing… With this in mind, translating for surtitles offers a luxury of a kind: since the original text is spoken on stage, and our translation read alongside it in real time, we can write it with the knowledge that the audience, even if they are completely unfamiliar with the original language, will still be getting something of the “saveur” of the words, if only by hearing them spoken out loud by actors. Still, though, the essential challenge that is posed by any literary translation remains: how to convey the meaning and feel of a literary text using the blunt tool of another, different language? When translating into English for an audience in a non-English-speaking country – as I have been doing for several years now, translating mainly for German theatres and occasionally for French ones – yet another challenge is added to all this: few of the audience members you are translating for will be native speakers of your language… Rather, you are translating for a global audience: for people who, wherever they come from in the world, use English as their lingua franca, their way of communicating between nations and cultures. People who, in fact, do not speak English at all: people who speak ‘Globish’.

The te busin the En meeti over – nicati langu (with s native vanta comm use ov tions w In con speak their r langu struct

ces do surtit into a native the “sa they a a Germ Use Sh be ina even q stray aliena with t


re with p first t speec be, or

1. Briggs, Kate: This Little Art, London: Fitzcarraldo Editions 2017.

3. Nerr

2. Ibid., p. 73.

4. "Ham

urtitinal n it n if riging ring gh, ny y the he

n au– as anscasioge is bers kers ting ever s cating


GLOBISH, OR: WHEN LANGUAGE GETS UTILITARIAN The term ‘Globish’ was coined by a French businessman, Jean-Paul Nerrière, to describe the English used as a lingua franca in business meetings and tourist destinations the world over – for Nerrière, Globish is “a global communication tool, which does not even claim to be a language, but exclusively a utensil”.3 He notes (with some glee, good Frenchman that he is) that native English speakers are often at a disadvantage when communicating in Globish: their command of their native language makes them use overly complicated constructions in situations where the aim is simply to be understood. In contrast, a conversation between non-native speakers may go much more smoothly because their respective imperfect commands of the language make them use more basic, accessible structures. If Globish is a mere tool, what consequences does this have for the translating of theatre surtitles into it – of literary texts transferred into a language that must be accessible to nonnative speakers who may not be able to detect the “saveur” and “savoir” contained in the words they are reading? How would you deal, say, with a German-language production of “Hamlet”? Use Shakespeare’s text, and your surtitles will be inaccessible to many a Globish speaker, and even quite a few native English speakers; but stray too far from the original, and you will alienate those native speakers who are familiar with the text…


recent production in Bochum4 had to deal with precisely this challenge – and within the first two lines of Shakespeare’s most famous speech, no less, which in its original reads “To be, or not to be? That is the question—/ Whether

’tis nobler in the mind to suffer” and was translated as “To be, or not to be, that is the question:/ whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer”.


he difference between these two versions is subtle, but not inconsequential: this is probably the most famous of all Shakespeare’s speeches, and as such, a piece of text that many native English speakers have at least a p ­ assing familiarity with (when they do not know it off by heart). In particular, it is Shakespeare’s rhythms themselves that are deeply ingrained, and the translator has had to make a tough decision here: to change “’tis” to “it is”, d ­ espite the fact that this interrupts the rhythm of the sentence, and that the line itself is one that quite a few people are actually likely to know off by heart. In addition, the Shakespearean “’tis” is very familiar to native English speakers – you could almost say ‘tis shorthand for what Shakespearean language sounds like – and so poses no barrier to understanding. This is not true, “…you are translating however, of nonfor a global audience: native speakers: for people who, how many could wherever they come be expected to from in the world, know or deduce, use English as their during the short lingua franca...” time a surtitle is projected above the stage, that “’tis” means “it is”? Such an unfamiliar, old-fashioned construction is simply too much to throw at an audience with variable commands of English, and so the translator rightly chose to smooth out the line, making it perfectly comprehensible to all, even if this meant potentially upsetting a few native Shakespeare aficionados’ sense of rhythm.

3. Nerrière, Jean-Paul: Parlez Globish, Paris: Editions D’Organisation 2006, p. 14. 4. "Hamlet", Schauspielhaus Bochum, Premiere 15.06.2019, surtitles translated by Anna Galt.


–a rds e and




ENTER THE ELDERLY RELATIVE In “Globish – How the English Language Became the World’s Language”, British journalist Robert McCrum describes the UK as being like “an elderly relative at a teenage rave… [sponsoring] the consumption of English as a highly desirable social and cultural force, ‘the worldwide dialect of the third millenium’.”5 Perhaps the native English translator, pondering the pros and cons of changing the rhythm of a famous Shakespeare line is playing the role of the elderly relative here – but I believe it is an important one. Approximately one third of the world’s population speaks English to some degree (while only 5% of people in the world are native English speakers), and 80% of the world wide web is written in some form of English. It is the language of capitalism, of globalisation, but also of protest: demonstrators from Hong Kong to Iran, from Sweden to Bolivia, hold up placards written in Globish for the attention of the world’s media. “Fridays for Future” is a Globish movement name: no native English speaker would have come up with this awkward construction (you would need to put a “the” in “What, then, could front of “Future” in English – be the sounds, the though of course rhythms, of a truly “Fridays for the literary Globish?” Future” doesn’t sound nearly as snappy, so a native speaker would probably have come up with a completely different name altogether). In short, Globish has already become the language of the world’s political and economic culture – but what are the consequences of creating a culture on the basis of a slippery language which no two speakers understand in quite the same way, a language that must by necessity reach for the lowest common denominator?


n the face of such impoverishment – perhaps an inevitable consequence of our entry into what some are calling the “post-literate age” – it is important to defend language in its precision, its beauty, its width and its depth. It is important to defend literature. And I would argue that, though we are not Globish speakers ourselves, we native English speakers have a role to play here.

GR AMMATICAL CORRECTNESS As Nerrière himself points out, while Globish is a simplified and accessible language, “it is nevertheless a grammatically correct form of English, which native English speakers cannot identify as a deliberately limited form of their language. They do not notice the difference. Globish is the essence of English, it is a fundamental concentrate of the language, obtained through careful refining.”6 Globish, in short, has to pass as English – and as such, the litmus test for what is correct Globish must be whether or not a native English speaker understands it. This may seem like an obvious point – but all too often, and particularly when it comes to theatre surtitling, the role of the native English-speaking translator is dismissed as being of little importance. After all, we all speak Globish, don’t we? It is not uncommon, as a native English-speaking translator, to have one’s surtitles “corrected” by someone who is clearly not a native speaker (and thus introduces mistakes where there were none), or even to be told one need not translate anything at all, since there is an “existing English translation” which, upon closer inspection, turns out not to have been produced by a native speaker and to require extensive reworking… I believe this is symptomatic of something quite profound,

a deep measu their l scious perha lation the la blunt does i appro


ut i a few n audien speak better have a care o direct every stage tion, w of atte word o transl audien


What, of a tr we def Barth “saveu rhyth contai each w tains,

7. As R


5. McCrum, Robert: Globish – How the English Language Became the World’s Language, London: Viking 2010, p. 8.


6. J. Nerrière: Parlez Globish, p. 79.

8. Prem

sh is m of nnot heir e. ndaned t, has s test r or it. t t nased all n, as ave o is oduen to all, tion” ot to nd this nd,

a deeper dynamic than simple cost-cutting measures or the odd individual overestimating their linguistic abilities: a perhaps unconscious idea that, when it comes to English (and perhaps, also, to surtitling itself), some translation, any translation, will do – since this is the language that we all use approximately as a blunt tool to communicate across borders, what does it matter if English surtitles are somewhat approximate?


to, its etymology. If we are to create a literary Globish, what musicality can guide us, what common references do we, the whole world, share? “The force be with you”, “Yes we can”, “Let’s twist again”? “To be or not to be”? Yes, Hamlet definitely makes the cut… These mostly mainstream references may seem frivolous, but is this really different to the birth of English itself, when, in the 14th century, Chaucer decided to write in what was then nothing more than a spoken local dialect instead of Latin?7


ut it does matter, of course: you might have a few native English speakers sitting in the audience – you might simply have a few Globish speakers whose command of the language is better than yours. And, above all, when you have a theatre-making process that takes such care on all other fronts, during which actors and directors and dramaturges will split hairs over every single word of the original text spoken on stage and how it is expressed, with what intonation, what gestures… When you have this level of attention to detail in terms of the spoken word of the play, why pay so little heed to the translation through which a large part of your audience will be accessing it?

THE SAVEUR OF GLOBISH: SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE What, then, could be the sounds, the rhythms, of a truly literary Globish? And how might we define the literary in the first place? Well, Barthes does not offer a bad model: there is the “saveur” of language – the way it sounds, its rhythms, its music in short – and the “savoir” it contains – the contemporary view of the world each word embodies, but also the past it contains, through the references it hearkens back

A production that seemed to me to offer a way forward was “Hekabe” at the Deutsches Theater,8 a translation from a German text based on Homer and Euripides that brought me back into close contact with these urtexts of European literature. Faced with these titans, how could I limit my translation to the 1500-word vocabulary that Jean-Paul Nerrière recommends for a truly functional Globish? No, these lines were too beautiful, and I had to find a way to let myself enjoy playing with a wide palette of words, while still making them accessible “In two or three to an audience whose first langenerations, it is very guage might not likely that a majority be English. The of people on Earth secret, I think, will speak Globish.” lies in the very nature of Globish itself, as Nerrière has theorised it: it is a language that works through deduction – if you know the word “neutral”, for example, you will be able to understand the words “neutrally” and “neutrality” too. As such, Globish speakers – and listeners – are more active in their comprehen-

7. As Robert McCrum points out in “Globish” (see R. McCrum: Globish – How the English Language Became the World’s Language, p. 53),

Chaucer himself worried that his “lighte Englische” might not be substantial or complex enough to express what he wanted – and yet

unbeknownst to him there he was, founding a whole literary culture…

8. Premiere 22.11.2019.


haps o e” – it cision, ore urole to


14 sion than native speakers: aware that they do not know every word in the English language, they are always ready to try and deduce any word they do not know from its context, its cognates, the words in their own native language that it may sound like… With this in mind, I can still give myself the freedom to play with words, ensuring I do not make my translation impenetrable to a non-native audience, but nevertheless trying to produce something that is beautiful, playful, and challenging.



TWO ELDERLY RELATIVES In two or three generations, it is very likely that a majority of people on Earth will speak Globish, to a much higher level than they do now9 – in its own small way, perhaps the strange art of theatre surtitling can play a role in raising this new language to a level above the purely functional, commercial, capitalistic. Isn’t theatre itself an elderly relative at the teenage rave of film and new media? Let us go hand in hand, then, we two grey-haired old dears, giving what we can to this wild new world…

Kate McNaughton, who grew up in Paris, studied European Literature in Cambridge and at the European Film College in Denmark. Today she works as a writer, independent translator and documentary filmmaker in Berlin. In 2018 her debut novel "How I Lose You" was released in England and France. As a translator, she works for several theatres translating plays and creating surtitles, including Schaubühne Berlin, Deutsches Theater, Berliner Ensemble and Maxim Gorki Theater.

Anke N 9. An increasing number of countries are introducing English language education at earlier and earlier ages – see R. McCrum:

Globish – How the English Language Became the World’s Language, p. 256.

audio also o


assistance in being able to aktivieren meine Imagination. properly enjoy a theatre Übertitel offerieren Spielvarianten, die im nächsten production. The blind members of the audience hear the Moment auf der Bühne übertroffen oder unterlaufen, commentary via receivers and headphones. Before the eingelöst oder widerlegt werden. Hat der Abend shows, touch tours take place, where they can get to know Übertitel zu bieten, beteiligt er mich an drei Momenten the costumes, props and sets. gleichzeitig: vor der Aktion, in der Aktion, nach der We describe sets, costumes, props and the most Aktion, und die kommende wird schon angelegt. Eine dramaturgically important parts of the plot precisely, Aufführung, die übertitelt oder gebärdengedolmetscht succinctly and at the same time with linguistic nuance. wird, ist für mich Theater in fünf Dimensionen, statt der However, the audio description is only available during gewöhnlichen vier.“ the empty gaps – so pauses in dialogue or monologue – that must be filled by professional speakers. A successful audio description consists of the right concentration of

information as well as authentic language that is adapted to fit the play. Audio description should be available without question for all productions in German theatre and opera houses. That’s what inclusion is for me!"

Anke Nicolai has been working as an audio description writer, editor, sound director and live audio describer since 1997, including in cooperation with theatre and opera houses. She is also one of the founding members of the association Hörfilm e.V.


"WHAT DOES A GOOD AUDIO DESCRIPTION IN THE THEATRE ­d escription serves as NEED TO DELIVER?" "Audio „Theater mit Übertiteln



The pro by Vere merspi not abo many o ger and three y tion on truth, l

and per Wiebke come to space f sciousl audienc text is and in Meanin res, fac It’s abo least us guage a

about g artists this wit directio

The buil Wed both noth (SĂź


APPROXIMATING A WORLD A Conversation Between Wiebke Puls, Verena Regensburger and Kassandra Wedel Translated by Anna Galt

Then they do this together, music, building a song using echo loops, Wedel dances, Puls dances, both sing – and there is no lie between them, nothing false anymore. (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Egbert Tholl)

ALLEGED LANGUAGE BARRIERS WIEBKE PULS: Verena, did you have the feeling you had to translate during rehearsals? Because you had thought a lot about how the show could be communicated to both a hearing and a deaf audience. Did you have the impression that you had to perform translation work in our team?

VERENA REGENSBURGER: Not really. Alleged language barriers, different forms of communication are the immanent theme of the show and weave their way throughout almost every performance process. But there were new rules to the game, so to speak, in the team. We had to get used to turning towards you, Kassandra, no matter who we were talking to, so you could read our lips. In longer discussions, we had a sign language interpreter. I think that inevitably led to another more pronounced examination of language. Dealing with and to some extent learning sign language influenced the way we communicated in the production and gave the team as well as the audience a different way of accessing our everyday forms of interaction. For me it was a gift to develop and work on my first play with all of you. Especially the concentration that working together required – not in the sense of being laborious, but having a special focus – was an unusual experience that I cherish and cultivate in the way I work now. What I thought was really interesting was the way we rehearsed on the stage – I don’t think it’s my style to interrupt people or shout… I think you have to take your time. Once, we were walking around the room for 45 minutes with torches and we kind of got into a flow – in which we were extremely concentrated on each other, in which you were so attuned to each other and discovered something together. I think this is a much more powerful way of being creative than if I were to shout how I want to see it at you from outside.


The production “Luegen” was the first show directed by Verena Regensburger, which premiered at the Kammerspiele in Munich in April 2017. Although the play is not about translation, it says a lot more about that than many other subjects. Wiebke Puls, Verena Regensburger and Kassandra Wedel sit down together for us after three years, during which they’ve also shown the production on international tours, and reflect on their work, on truth, lies, perception and translation. In order to explore the (de-)construction of truth and perception, in “Luegen” an actress with hearing – Wiebke Puls – and a deaf actress – Kassandra Wedel come together. The stage becomes an experimental space for what is communicated consciously and unconsciously, a laboratory of authenticity, which invites the audience to decode, look more closely and observe. The text is based on the immediacy of formulated thoughts and in this way tries to approximate a form of truth. Meaning is communicated using words, but also gestures, facial expressions and interpersonal communication. It’s about changing perspectives and identification – not least using language, whether that’s spoken, sign language and/or body language. This production is not about translation, but about going in search of the truth and perception. The artists Wiebke Puls and Kassandra Wedel manage to do this with virtuosity under the equally open and sensitive direction of Verena Regensburger.




A lot of people said we worked really well together on the stage. I think that’s because we communicated very openly from the start and that a lot of it happens via the eyes – agreements without translation. There’s something that’s working very directly between us, regardless of translating it into language or embodying it.

Encountering each other — as equals.

Do you think the fact that the audience knew that Wiebke is an actress and not a professional interpreter made a difference for them?





I think it was also because Verena gave us the space. I’ve had other productions where there was a lot of interruption – and precisely because there was interpreting. But sometimes you just have to be patient. The first time we tried ‘lip-reading’, when Wiebke had “It was never about earphones on and was supposed to translation as read my lips, was such, but about an awful moment. I the equal value of felt like I was being understanding and like a deaf teacher experiencing.” and noticed that Wiebke was getting angry. Poor Wiebke! I wanted to stop immediately! But then I looked over to Verena (laughs) and you gave me a sign to continue.

You can see the difference. Yet many deaf people told me they liked Wiebke’s signs – that they had a different quality.

You can You can ses. Bu



I never had the impression that I had to perfectly adapt in “Luegen”, but that it was much more about how you made something your own. That’s a quality of what we’re doing there.

I think doesn’t from E terms s



the tex bass sp singing


K ASSANDR A WEDEL: When you, Wiebke, sign what I’m saying, does that feel like a translation or as if you’re saying something in a different language?


It is a translation. For a few shows, you were changing I remember that too. It was frustrating and made me your lines quite a lot, for example. You stayed with the angry, but at the same time I knew it was an experience I images, but you changed the order, left things out or exhad to go through. pressed it a little differently. I had only learned a certain number of signs. But even when you said something new, K ASSANDR A WEDEL: I would still try to express it with gestures. I think with If we had interrupted the process, the experience wouldn’t goodwill anyone can understand what I’m trying to say. have happened. That left a lasting impression on me. And that’s what it’s about, right? And there are lots of other options apart from signs: your facial expression, ENCOUNTERING EACH OTHER AS EQUALS the body…

Transla What c

I think can jus whole p

“W tran y so

about “ I think it lets y think, p


… what



At the beginning of rehearsals, we hadn’t yet decided if and in what form we could make the show accessible for a deaf audience. We considered whether an interpreter should interpret the shows. But then we really developed the ambition to solve it with the team we had. It was never about translation as such, but about the equal value of understanding and experiencing – even if the perception and reception is happening via different channels.

… the context.

WIEBKE PULS: Even if “Luegen” can be understood by both a deaf and a non-deaf audience to a great extent – through the visualisation, the textualisation of language, sign language – I felt a bit guilty every time because of the music. Deaf members of the audience can watch you as you perform


No, eve what th that sh two dir



old erent

adapt you t we’re

t feel in a

ging the or exertain ng new, with o say. ts of sion,

and a visuaage – I eaf rform

the text in a dance, they can feel the vibrations from the bass speakers, but they don’t hear the music and the singing.


You have an incredible intuition. For example, when K ASSANDR A WEDEL: we were singing and you put your hand on my chest or Translating music is a huge discussion! It’s difficult. back, you understood so much through the vibrations, I What can you translate? What is interpretation anyway? thought it was amazing every time.



You can translate sense impressions synaesthetically. Kassandra, you explained it to me like this: for lots of You can try to make them accessible using the other sen- deaf people sign language is their mother tongue and ses. But then it’s not music anymore, it’s something else. speech is their second language. So like when I learn English. You’re not deaf from birth and you work with K ASSANDR A WEDEL: different connections between speech and sign language. I think there is such a thing as “visual sound”, that music Which feels more natural to you? doesn’t just have to be acoustic. Even in a translation from English into German you can only approximate K ASSANDR A WEDEL: terms sometimes. When I’m either only speaking or only signing. When you do both, it works, but it’s hard. Signs that accompany WIEBKE PULS: speech don’t look nice or clean anymore. The sentences I think that languages can bridge this gap, because you are more unclear – you’re left swimming a bit more, you can just stretch it further and further, and in the end a have to search more. If you do both together, it’s like runwhole paragraph stands for one word. But then someone ning and singing at the same time. You get out of breath. has understood The languages have a different rhythm. what it is, even if Here we used it as an art form. It blurs, like sound in a “When you try to that one word is hearing aid. We illustrated it visually. At the start, we’re missing. Transsigning clearly (speech accompanying signs) and it gets translate everything, lating the senses, less and less, fragments (signs accompanying speech). you can destroy that’s something In that way, the comprehensibility gradually reverses for something too.” different in my the hearing and deaf audience. view. When you talk WHEN YOU TRY TO TR ANSLATE EVERY THING, about “visual sound”, I’m torn in two directions, because YOU CAN DESTROY SOMETHING TOO. I think it’s great that you found this translation, because it lets you participate in the sound and at the same I WIEBKE PULS: think, poor Kassandra, she doesn’t see … In the end, we chose or you chose moments for the stage K ASSANDR A WEDEL: that are about a distance that needs to be bridged. In re… what you hear. hearsals, we still had a scene called “The Phone Call”, in which we couldn’t hear or see each other – but amazingly WIEBKE PULS: still had a conversation, as if telepathically. No, even worse, everything that’s missing. No matter what the translation achieves, it remains a world that K ASSANDR A WEDEL: that she can never experience in that way. So I’m torn in The question was: how can it be translated? The phone two directions between deep respect and great pity. call worked because it was improvised in the moment. When you try to translate everything, you can destroy K ASSANDR A WEDEL: something too. Translation is not 1:1. It approximates a world.


Wiebke ade a



VERENA REGENSBURGER is an independent director

You don’t have to understand the show word for word — the opposite. It’s much more important to me that they watch you both.

working in the field of arts and theatre. “Luegen” was her final project as assistant director at the Münchner Kammerspiele. During her Goethe Institute residency in Bangalore (India), she developed the play “My Name Is I Love You” in collaboration with students from the Abhinaya Taranga Theatre Training School.



The verbal share of information is much less than we actually think. I think that’s pretty magical. What is it that people tell each other alongside all “What is it that those words? What do they absorb people tell each other information from? alongside all those You can see here words?” that communication goes beyond words. Yet still language is essential – which we talk about in “Luegen” and how we do that.

WIEBKE PULS has been a member of the Münchner Kammerspiele ensemble since 2005. She has received several awards for her work, including the Boy Gobert Prize from the Körber Foundation in 2003 and the Alfred Kerr Actors Award for her role of Kriemhild in “Die Nibelungen” in 2005. At the 55th edition of the Berliner Theatertreffen in 2018, she was honoured with the 3sat Prize for her performance in “Trommeln in der Nacht”.


VERENA REGENSBURGER: The show is already about that in terms of content – we try to translate, namely internal processes or our own ways of perceiving, and want to find out where we really see each other in the process.

WIEBKE PULS: ‘Translation’ describes what we did, without talking about actual translation as it’s generally understood. What we did with “Luegen” is like the literal meaning of the German word for translation ‘übersetzen’, shifting one’s own position, placing oneself on the other side. In that sense I think that term is almost even nicer, namely the experience of sharing a standpoint, changing one’s own position!

K ASSANDR A WEDEL works as an independent actor, choreographer and dancer. She is a member of the ensemble of Deutsches Gehörlosen Theater and has been German hip hop world champion in solo and duo of the inclusive hip hop championships twice. She performs across Europe with her dance group, Nikita Dance Crew. Besides German and English spoken language, Wedel also speaks German and international sign language.

Dr. Barb

thors She is

hner as ding ndaard n” in eater3sat n der

tor, er of eater pion ampie with es del n


"In theatre, text is only one of the components of a theatre production. It only comes alive when it is embodied on the stage. This process can be understood best when as a translator you see yourself as part of the production process. In our workshops, we have had

important discussions about matters specific to our profession, but also political debates (e.g. about author’s rights for translators). Today Drama Panorama is a non-profit association with several teams working para-llel, developing different projects in the area of contemporary drama and its transfer in particular. In a series of the same name, new plays translated into German are published by Neofelis Verlag Berlin."

Dr. Barbora Schnelle is a Theatre Studies scholar, theatre critic and translator of well-known authors into Czech. As a translator and editor, she discovered Jelinek for the Czech Republic. She is also a guest lecturer in Brno and founder of the online theatre journal "Yorick".


tor uector r ndia), You” bhina-




I have many promo In sho

as a di Berlin A Brec the st rather see as sembl pret in projec


his Germa was st got m and be At the of Fra was fa of the others at the access perfor reache mance texts who a



I am, who have been formed by the same complex world as me, write about the world. Due to my Franco-German professional experience, I am almost always put in the position of acting as an intermediary: I know the German theatre system and the French theatre landscape, I direct plays on either side of the Rhine, and have always been confronted with different understandings of the theatre. An audience of French professionals commented my first piece of work as a director with the words: “You’ve got lots of ideas, that’s great, but your actors are a little over the top, don’t you think?” The equivalent German audience said: “You’ve got a few ideas, but why don’t your actors act?” When I direct a play in Germany, the Germans say: “Ah, it’s very French.” When I stage a play in France, his is how I learned to think about theatre in the French say: “Well, it’s pretty German.” I have German. At the time, my knowledge of German learned to understand these contrasting expecwas still limited and ‘understanding German’ tations. While theatre in Germany was mainly got mixed up with decrypting events on stage about ‘action’, in France it was above all about and being able to follow a sequence of scenes. ‘text’. I have learned to sail without a radar, not At the end of the 1990s, when I went to see some to rely so much on the advice of experts who of Frank Castorf’s stagings for the first time, I pronounce on what is right and what is wrong, was faced with several layers of meaning: many but rather to trust the audience’s attention. of them performed, others merely spoken, yet For me, staging a play also always means others purely visual. My poor language skills translating. I have to communicate my understanding of the text to my actors, so that they at the time sharpened my attention, and my can make it their own and invent it anew for the access to the meaning depended on the actor’s performances. The clarity of the language stage, as if it were a musical score. For me, stareached me through the clarity of the perforging a play means communicating a text, enamance. bling it to get ‘across’, so that another audience I have always worked with contemporary can receive its contents on an emotional level. Alongside my work as director, I incretexts because I am interested in how authors who are living in the same historical moment as asingly find myself working as a translator,

I have been working in both France and Germany for almost 20 years, making theatre and promoting contemporary texts in various ways. In short, I work as a kind of mediator. Having first studied in France, I trained as a director at the Ernst Busch drama school in Berlin, under Manfred Karge. A practical school. A Brechtian school. We learned a ‘grammar of the stage’: theatre does not begin on stage, but rather in the text. Theatre begins with what I see as a director, what I take from the text, assemble out of it or contrast it with, what I interpret into the text – in short, what I see in it and project onto it.



Translated by Kate McNaughton

24 and, together with Frank Weigand, as editor of the “SCÈNE – New French Theatre Plays” series, which has been published since 1999, initially under the editorship of Barbara Engelhardt. Translating theatre plays without staging them myself has become second nature to me. Often the first question that comes up is the level of transposition the text or story needs to undergo, and then, what connections are important for the spectators.



his is one of the essential themes of the work that Frank Weigand and I do when we edit the “SCÈNE – New French Theatre Plays” series. A host of questions come up when we select the manuscripts: can a text simply be ‘transferred’ to a German stage, in spite of its French nature? Or indeed must it be transferred precisely because of its French nature? Which individual will manage to come up with a contemporary translation of its contents? Which words will they choose? We also regularly translate together, and this is where our differences and divergences complement each other most strongly: a French director and a German translator. Instead of relocating the story or ‘Germanising’ the names of its characters, we focus on explaining the meaning of key elements so that readers and spectators can imagine the original situation. An interesting connection arises out of this separation. After reading our translation of Fabrice Melquiot’s “Les Séparables” (The Separables), for example, young people often ask us: “It’s not set here, is it?” and “But why do they talk about Arabs so much?”, but they completely understand the problems of discrimination and equal treatment that are explored by the text. I was faced with quite a different situation when I worked on some translations of texts by the Syrian author Mohammad Al Attar out of the Arabic into French, together with Jumana Al-Yasiri. The three texts we translated were all written at the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, between 2011 and 2014. They portray characters who were trapped by events and cons-

tantly tried to cope with them and to reflect on political questions. The plays mostly portrayed scenes from daily life, which were characterised by everyday speech. Here, the challenge of translation was quite different. It was difficult to translate the matter of course way in which the characters formulated political reflections or questions in their everyday speech into a French everyday linguistic register. S ­ ometimes it was necessary to contextualise specific things in the French text, sometimes we had to take the liberty of using a circumlocution in order to explain what would have been o ­ bvious in a Syrian context. We continued making such adaptations during the rehearsal process, together with the actors. Some sentences were rephrased several times, in order to keep the everyday tone of the discussion. Translating and mediating necessarily means risking misunderstandings and friction. Ten years ago, I adapted “Casimir and Caroline” by Ödon von Horvath in France. This play is still viewed there as telling the story of the rise of National Socialism, while my adaptation took the economic crisis as its central theme: the search for private solutions shortly before poverty becomes too overwhelming and the people affected start to believe in a particular political solution and to reach for their ballot papers. This interpretation provoked a controversy; my adaptation and staging were largely criticised by French theatre professionals. The stage design, costumes and acting were ­v iewed as caricatures, which did not do justice to a personal view of the text. My only consolation as translator came from the comments made by German dramaturges, who admittedly did not particularly like my staging either (too French!), but who admired the text: they could hear, in my French adaptation, the laconic and lapidary discussions between Horvath’s characters. This was a real compliment for me and confirmation that my attempts had not been in vain. Due to my ‘Brechtian’ training, the terms ‘situation’ and ‘conflict’ are part of my personal concept of what theatre is. I find a text particularly interesting when it varies between drama-

tic situ stylist theatr out of dience comm situat tion a Perhap

“…  beg rat

can pr thus n – rath effect heard tensio tion d harmo that is in fact differ of con is abo not do about tions, places basic strive throug langu conne


and tr the ar Grenie – and theatr Theate Weiga

ad to in vious

cess, were he

rily ction. olilay the ation me: fore he ular lot ntrogely The ewed a tion de by not ench!), in dary . This ation

terms sonal ticurama-

tic situations and narrative. It is an established stylistic device in contemporary drama and theatre work when for example characters come out of their scenic dialogue and address the audience directly. This kind of 'stepping out' and commenting places them at a distance from the situation, and creates moments of world creation and of self-discovery for the characters. Perhaps we are dealing here with an attempt to invent the world anew. At a time “… theatre does not where fiction is massively conbegin on stage, but sumed in image rather in the text.” form, languagebased narrative can produce a different effect. Theatre’s aim is thus not to make the audience dive into fiction – rather, it attempts to avoid precisely such an effect. A theatrical text allows the word to be heard collectively and its translation is an extension of this collective effect. For me, translation does not mean adjustment in the sense of harmonisation, nor the delivery of something that is ‘ready to understand’. Much the opposite, in fact: translation for me is an attempt to make differences audible, without avoiding any areas of confusion or misunderstandings. For me it is about building bridges between realities and not doing the same things on both sides. It is about measuring the gaps between our perceptions, which are different – depending on the places and moments of the body – based on the basic features of the Feldenkrais method, which strives for a simpler organisation of movements through awareness. This means viewing the languages and the societies that separate and connect them as one single, living organism.

LEYLA-CLAIRE RABIH works as an independent director and translator in France and Germany. She is the artistic director of Dijon-based company Grenier Neuf, translates from German to French – and the other way around – and is co-editor of theatre anthology "SCÈNE – Neue französische Theaterstücke" together with translator Frank Weigand.


ct on rayed erised f cult hich ions a times





"Translating for the stage is a „Das Übersetzen für die Bühne ist ein complex process that begins with komplexer Prozess, der mit vielen Fraof questions: which stage genlots beginnt: Für welche Bühnensituati-

on situation übersetze am ich?I translating Welche Übertragungsfor? form wäreform am besten geeignet und was Which of language transfer bedeutet das für meine Übersetzung? is best suited and what does that Wenn Sprachübertragung unzureichend mean for my translation? When mitgedacht und umgesetzt wird, führt das, language transfer is not considered gerade bei internationalen Festivals, meist zu Unruhe und Frustproperly, auf allenitSeiten: bei or implemented usually dencauses Macher:innen ebenso im Publikum. agitation and wie frustration Mit Getting Acrozz konnten wir dieses Thema erston all sides, especially at international festivals: the theatremals zu einem zentralen Teil des Festivals machen. makers just as much as the audience. Getting Acrozz was Wir entwickelten für jede Produktion – in enger Abthe first time sprache we couldmit make issue a central part of the denthis Künstler:innen – die (hoffentlich)

am production, besten geeignete Übertragungsform, kümmerfestival. For every we developed – communicating ten uns um Übersetzungen und suited Qualitätskontrolclosely with the artists – the (hopefully) most form of le und unterstützten die Kommunikation während language transfer, looked after the translations and quality des Festivals, zur Not auch spät abends an der Bar. control, and supported communication during the festival, Ich habe das Gefühl, dass seitdem viele Beteiligif necessary also late at über nightdie at the bar. I have the feeling ihte anders sprachliche Übertragung rer Produktionen nachdenken weil sie gemerkt that since then, many people involved think –about language haben, wie sehr die dem Putransfer in their productions in aKommunikation different way –mit because blikum davon beeinflusst wird und welche neuen they realised how much communication with the audience is Wege sich dadurch öffnen können.“ influenced by that and how new opportunities can open up as a result. " Karen Witthuhn is a translator and was the initiator of the translation programme Getting Acrozz as part of the PAZZ Performing Arts Festival in 2012 in Oldenburg. After studying in Bristol, she worked as a director, dramaturge, production manager and translator and is a member of the translation bureau Transfiction.


bei ly um. rstehen. Abeich) merng rolf end y Bar. ligiherkt e Puuen s


etting dying and is


ein Fraatigswas ng? end das, ed eist


WE ONLY HAVE ONE OR TWO CHANCES Stefan Fischer-Fels and Guy Dermosessian in Discussion Translated by Anna Galt We met Stefan Fischer-Fels, head of the Youth Theatre at the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and Guy Dermosessian, project manager in diversity management for the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, and talked to them about their international experience with children’s and youth theatre. What are the difficulties in communication and in what way are children one step ahead of us?



In children’s and youth theatre, around 80% of the children and young people have different backgrounds to “biological Germans” from the educated classes. We think that’s a reason to fundamentally re-examine our work. If we want to reach this very intercultural audience, we have to also do language mediation work and offer translation on all levels. Only then can our theatre be more than a place for elites.

My kids are four and five now and go to the theatre regularly. With them, everything works via images, which they sometimes store very freely without language. However, they’re usually prepared by teachers, which is a shame, because then the images can’t develop freely anymore. But that’s exactly where I see a big opportunity in the intercultural field. Because ‘understanding something’ doesn’t always necessarily have anything to do with language. For example, I communicate about emotions to my children in Arabic. We usually organise the more practical things in German, like brushing their teeth, going to bed… That means, like lots of kids in their generation, they express being sad, being funny, being happy in another language. They perceive the theatre in German or the books I read them with this internal contradiction.



When I started going to the theatre in Germany, I wasn’t familiar with German literature yet. It was very uncomfortable for me to be standing in a group of people giving me the feeling that I was stupid the whole time. But I didn’t think I was stupid; I just wasn’t familiar with Germanlanguage literature, I knew French-language literature instead – which in turn has an unpleasant colonial background. I felt like I actually had something to say, but somehow I couldn’t get into the conversation, I wasn’t heard.

For me, those are all forms of translation. Guy works in diversity management for the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (national culture foundation) and from his perspective asks himself: how can you think about a theatre like that differently and open it up? It’s become clear to me that some essential translation services on the part of institutions are still lacking. Which language reaches which person? Are the codes we use in theatre even comprehensible to the people we want to reach? The plays we perform could touch on religious feelings, taboos, fears – not just psychologically, but in a very real way. Our work therefore has to have something to do with knowledge of and sensitivity for other cultures that are part of our society. We must learn and respect this contextualisation in order to open the door to the theatre for all children and young people. We have to think about whether the ‘German’ perspective in contemporary plays, fairy tales and classics is the only entry point to theatrical narratives.


STEFAN FISCHER-FELS: That’s exactly the issue that concerns me so much. Our young theatre audience today is always also tomorrow’s audience and we have the chance that people, who would otherwise never come into contact with theatre, develop a relationship of love for theatre with us and through us. But we only have one or two chances. If they say after the show, that’s nothing for me, because there’s nothing from my life in it, then it’s probably over forever.

For exa authors “biolog audienc stories reactin making aesthet Who do


One ex in Dort differen own lan over. Th rather which i two or which o live in B differen But apa often th of cont that th not jus finding narrati but rat


Yes, I t who ha them. T incredi the the young p the the fear of gogues themes questio bubble, have to other’s commu

ks in undes tive ke that that instiwhich prewe ears – r work dge of our lisatihildren



For example, we diversified our ensemble, but also our authors, because we said, we can’t present exclusively “biological German”, middle-class perspectives to an audience that is totally diverse, who bring experiences, stories and different backgrounds with them. It’s about reacting to your audience, learning from them too and making theatre understandable for people to whom the aesthetics and languages we’re using here mean nothing. Who don’t feel spoken to by us (yet).

GUY DERMOSESSIAN: One exciting example is a play that was developed in Dortmund. A family situation with teenagers with different nationalities, who tell the same plot in their own language and from different perspectives over and over. There was no translation in terms of language, but rather with images. It was about a visual transfer, in which it was sometimes funny for ten children, sad for two or the other way around. A transcultural transfer, which often happens in theatre. For example, my parents live in Beirut, so I see a play about revolution and war differently than someone with a different biography. But apart from the necessity of linguistic translation, I often think about the question of translation in the sense of contextualisation. How can we create accessibility, so that the audience can open up in a totally different way – not just to the plays, but to the whole theatre? It’s about finding possibilities of opening up the usually European narratives. By that I don’t mean: ‘Get rid of the canon’, but rather: ‘Let’s renegotiate the canon!’

theatre’s most important task in general. Can I connect with it or not?

GUY DERMOSESSIAN: And there are various ways to do that: Rabih Mroué chose to use the Arabic language in a production “Riding on a Cloud”, which was about the war in Lebanon. He explained to me that he explored the rhythm of the language more “It’s about finding in order to create a possibilities of kind of soundscape. opening up the So it wasn’t as much usually European about understanding, narratives.” but rather feeling your way in. For me, the best theatre experiences are the ones that touch me emotionally. Despite translation, a kind of alienation effect is often created. I remember once there was a translation for the Arabic community in the theatre. They tried to do everything right and yet the reactions were more reserved, more like: ‘We’re not stupid! If we don’t laugh exactly when you laugh, then it’s just because we don’t think it’s funny.’


Of course it gets interesting when a show goes on tour and is dependent on a translation. We had a show in Russia, in which 800 children listened to the show being interpreted with earphones. You could hear the quiet sound of the interpreter’s voice constantly – the laughs STEFAN FISCHER-FELS: came delayed. I felt like it’s really important who’s transYes, I think it’s important to open up theatre for people lating and most importantly how. The text was – this is who have up until now felt it wasn’t really relevant to how I felt – more just read out and not felt, that created a them. That’s really not that easy and there’s also the distance to our play and it was a totally different show. incredibly large gap between the media experience and In Brazil, it was surprisingly different. Because of a lack the theatre experience on top of that, especially for of technical facilities, there was no interpreting, but an young people. One study about why people don’t go to actress who watched a few rehearsals and sat on the the theatre showed that it’s mainly fear of boredom and edge of the stage, and gave a short summary of what fear of not understanding it. That’s why theatre pedawould happen in Brazilian before every scene. At first gogues’ work is so important. They try to bring together I thought it would ruin the whole show. But they calmed themes, theatre languages and people. For me, that’s a me down and told me they always did it that way and I could trust them. The actress understood the play’s question of translation. If everyone only stays in their bubble, it won’t get us anywhere in terms of society. We rhythm exactly, wrote herself a wonderful text and told have to talk openly about conflicts, without beating each the Brazilian kids just enough so they could follow. It was other’s heads in. And again and again, translation and like it was part of the production. It was sensational, it communication is of central importance. For me, it’s worked fantastically. I didn’t think it would be possible.


e , which . ch is eely rtuing ng bout anise their n their eing tre nal



30 Another nice version was once when we performed in India. The actors learned a few key sentences in Hindi and scattered them into the German text. There were also surtitles, but they only translated the most important “One study about parts of the diawhy people don’t go logue. This combito the theatre showed nation worked well, that it’s mainly for example. That fear of boredom was an example and fear of not of an optimum soluunderstanding it.” tion. Learning the whole text by heart would of course be the biggest gesture. But that can go totally wrong too, if it is only learned phonetically and you can’t understand a thing.

understood internationally. An interesting experience, the two-year-olds have to and can find a different way of understanding completely without question.


Guy Dermosessian, who grew up in Lebanon, is founder of the international music label Kalakuta Soul Records and works as an artist and curator in the fields of music and performing arts. As a project manager of the Zukunftsakademie NRW, he has advised various cultural institutions in the state of NRW in the field of diversity management. Since 2019, he has been head of the Diversity Department at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, where he also curates the series Embracing Realities at the Unterhaus.

In “Babel” by Frankfurt Youth Theatre, young people told different stories from their own perspective in their own language. At the start in German, then French, English, Arabic, Amharic… although you didn’t understand the language, you could understand the context and lots of different dynamics were created in the space. And this gave some people the courage to make contact. Because if you really wanted to understand it, you had to remember the person who laughed, ask them about that part, what it was about. I thought it was interesting that this form of powerlessness produced new strategies to open up to the other languages in that moment. But not just in the sense of language. It had no surtitles and people said to themselves, fine then I’ll experience it phonetically and aesthetically.

In conversation with and written down by Yvonne Griesel.

Stefan Fischer-Fels has been director of the Youth Theatre at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus since the 2016/17 season. He already held the same position in Düsseldorf from 2003-2011. From 1996-2003 he worked as a dramaturge and theatre pedagogue and from 20112016 as artistic director at GRIPS Theater Berlin. As a member of the board of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ), he is committed to children’s rights to cultural participation and to the artistic and cultural-political development of children’s and youth theatre.




STEFAN FISCHER-FELS: One other possibility that I see a lot in children’s and youth theatre, especially in international festivals, is that you actually very deliberately choose plays that don’t have a lot of text. That’s why German theatre sometimes has a problem in the international scene. We are considered a great theatre culture, but “very text-based”. That’s a problem if you want to make it on the international market. Theatre for very young kids is a great area for touring and international collaborations. So almost every festival invites plays for two- and three-year-olds, because they work with almost no words and can be

Dr Anna

new d mana


nce, way of

eatre /17 elas 11As a ion of he is tion ent of

r of s and ic and unftsstitumaersity where he

big picture and keeping an eye on details in equal measure. On the one hand, being aware that you’re only a small cog in the overall concept of the production, unobtrusively integrating yourself into that and treating every title as if it were the most important one. Most importantly, you need a high level of cultural sensitivity to be able to communicate between the different cultures on the stage and in the auditorium."

"HOW DID YOU END UP DOING THAT?" "Even when I was still a student, I was especially interested in cultural transfer in theatre and worked on many GermanItalian productions as a translator. The step to also working on surtitling productions was the logical consequence of my academic and practical work. The most important and nicest aspect of surtitling for me is still giving as many people as possible access to theatre."

Dr Anna Kasten graduated with a doctorate from the Universities of Palermo and DĂźsseldorf in new drama and working with them intermedially. She works as a surtitler and is part of the management team of the company Panthea.



"Seeing the



Have yo stood a



Ye ve tio sci a lo sta

You wo 2018, a transla other la ‘transfe

Wi of ad ha on als an Wi Rig be the set see

Why w

In fun


BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO FEEL YOUR WAY INTO A WORLD AND A LANGUAGE Dorothea Lautenschläger in Conversation with Maja Zade

Have you ever been to the theatre and not understood a thing?

MAJA ZADE: Yes, very often, but I’ve always felt it was very interesting. Suddenly you pay attention to completely different things, and fascinatingly you do actually still understand a lot, because there are bodies and people on stage who have their very own language. You work as a translator, dramaturge and, since 2018, as an author too. Your play “status quo” was translated into Latvian and Norwegian among other languages. What was important to you in this ‘transfer’? With “status quo”, I wanted each production of the play to be set in the city it was being adapted for, so that the audience would have the feeling that what was happening on stage was directly connected to them. I also translated the play into English myself and relocated everything in the translation. With the translation for the production in Riga, they thought at first it wouldn’t work because everything really is very different there, but at the end of the day they did set the events of the play in Riga, and that seems to have worked very well. Why were there doubts as to whether it would work? In Riga they said at first that society there functions differently – which I can’t judge, of

course. The English translation was tricky because one of the narrative strands is set in a theatre and they don’t have a system of repertory theatres like we do in Germany – so in that kind of situation you have to fudge things a bit and see whether doing that changes the contents. In “status quo”, normal language, in which the masculine form takes precedence, is turned on its head, so that the feminine form is dominant. In English, for example, there isn’t really a dominance of feminine or masculine terms. You don’t need to add on a feminine suffix to the end of words or replace ‘man’ (which means ‘one’, but also sounds like ‘Mann’, which means ‘man’) with ‘frau’ (which means ‘woman’). This is very interesting of course, because you immediately lose an aspect of the play that is one of the first things the German audience notices, and through which it was clear from the first line that the gender roles are switched and that we’re looking at a world that is somehow unusual. You work as a translator yourself. From which and into which languages do you translate? I translate out of German and Swedish into English, and out of English and Swedish into German. How did you become a translator? It was an accident really. I used to work at the Royal Court Theatre in London and


Translated by Kate McNaughton

34 we were wondering whether we wanted to commission a translation of Marius von Mayenburg’s “Fireface”. We talked about the fact that the language isn’t easy to translate and in order to try out how it might work, I translated the first few pages – and then I was given the job of translating the whole play. Then at first I only translated into English, until Nils Tabert at Rowohlt Theaterverlag asked me if I’d like to translate Lars von Trier, and since then I’ve been translating in both directions.


How do you approach translating a drama?

rehearsals in the UK and asked if we can change a word. I don’t think anyone would do this in Germany – in England the process feels a bit more creative, because you’re translating for a specific production, with specific artists. When I translated “Martyr”, for example, the English director and the author, Marius von Mayenburg, discussed the fact that they wanted to completely transfer the action to England – and so that’s what I did. I wouldn’t do that for a publisher in Germany, because such decisions tend to be made by the theatres, and these are then changes that tend to be carried out by dramaturges.

First I read the play several times – I really get to know it. Then I start I get the impression that the by doing a rough translatiwork carried out by translators on, and then I go over it as “The authors are often isn’t noticed – what’s many times as it takes for it your view on this? usually very aware to sound as if it’s an original of how important the text. Then I go back to the I think that here at the Schautranslation of their original and check whether bühne there’s a big focus on play is.” I’ve strayed too far from international theatre work and it, and then I’ll sometimes therefore also on the people make some corrections. The first play you who translate ‘behind the scenes’. Yesterday translate by a particular author is always for example, we had a reading with Annie the most difficult, because you have to feel Ernaux, during which my colleague expliyour way into a world and a language. I’ve citly addressed the translator, Sonja Fick, translated most of Marius von Mayenburg’s and praised her role in the German edition plays into English, so that now I don’t find of Ernaux’ book. But if I look at the situation it so difficult anymore – depending on the in general, I find it absolutely shocking how play. It also helps, in his case, that I’m often often translators aren’t mentioned in proinvolved in the productions of his plays as grammes or on theatre websites – I think it’s a dramaturge, and that we know each other important that translators always be named very well. together with the author. The authors are usually very aware of how important the Does it make a difference whether you’re translatranslation of their play is. The problem lies ting for the German-speaking world or the Englishmore with the theatres. speaking world? You’ve been working for 20 years now as a dramaAbsolutely. In Germany translations are turge at the Schaubühne. What’s changed? often commissioned by publishing houses, whereas in England you’ll often be translaEverything has become much more interting directly for a theatre. This definitely national. I think we were one of the first makes a big difference to how people view ­theatres here in Berlin to offer surtitles. your work. I’ll often be called up during This developed out of the fact that we often

we Th lis pe wh atr

What w

It w we be the lot ma th wo tou pro an “Th At pe su ce, wo

The reh ted tim surtitle

It d act are do scr of ly ad tur an fur ha wh

And wh or bein


chauon k and ple erday nie plick, tion ation g how ronk it’s amed re he m lies

ert s. ften

went on international tours with our plays. Then we thought: we’ve got surtitles in English or French anyway, and there are enough people in Berlin who don’t speak German – why not give it a go? And now almost all theatres in Berlin offer surtitled performances. What was the surtitling like at first?

Then it’s all a bit more complicated and the surtitles have to be planned into the final rehearsals, which are indeed already very full. In such situations it’s usually the case that I or one of my colleagues will make some corrections after the opening night for subsequent performances. What’s tricky is always getting into the groove, the rhythm of the performance, because cuing surtitles really is an art: you can really ruin a lot of things by cuing a surtitle a tick too early or too late. It works best with productions that have already been on tour a lot, such as for example “Beware of Pity”, for which the director, Simon McBurney, still had enough time and desire to look over the surtitles again and set a rhythm for them. It’s also important for the people who cue the titles at each performance to be well-acquainted with the production and the actors, so that they can react to anything that is particular to that specific performance.

It was still quite new back then and actually we learned to do it through being on tour, because of course it had to be done then, and then we slowly worked it out. Now there are lots of companies that produce surtitles and manage them – before it tended to happen through individuals in the theatre, who would then do the surtitles when we were touring. Uli Menke, for example, has been producing surtitles for us for many years, and translates plays for us, such as, recently, “The Others” by Anne-Cécile Vandalem. At the beginning I had the feeling a lot of people couldn’t imagine watching plays with surtitles at all, but now it’s common practiHow do you decide which plays are surtitled? ce, at least in big cities, and in most cases it works really well. Very often we have the surtitles because the production was invited somewhere on The rehearsal period for a play often only has limitour and then we simply use them for the ted time for rehearsals on stage. How do you fit in performances in Germany. During the FIND surtitles or translations on top of that? Festival, we invite international productions to the Schaubühne, so obviously we surtitle It depends. If it’s a tour or a festival there’s everything, just like in the case of co-producactually enough time, especially since there tions with other countries. are now professional organisations who can do it for you. Their employees are sent the And do you get any feedback from the audience? script and recordings of performances ahead of time. This means they’re usually extremeYes, it’s always very different, but I get the ly well-prepared and they shorten the text in feeling that opinion is divided as far as advance. Then it also gets sent to the dramasurtitles are concerned. I think if you speak turgy department, which checks everything both the language that is spoken on stage and, if necessary, makes any corrections or and the one that is projected above it, you further shortens the text. Then you’ll usually tend to be more critical generally. With a have a run-through with the actors, during German play with English surtitles for exwhich corrections are made again. ample, you always very clearly notice what’s missing. But translating everything isn’t a And what about plays that are part of the repertory, solution either, because then you’d be spenor being performed for the first time? ding all your time reading the surtitles.


n uld ocess e ith rtyr”, he sed y that’s sher nd re ut by


36 Do you think there’s a hierarchy of languages?


Perhaps in a political sense, but in the theatre the issue is more the differences in terms of meaning. What’s exciting is that writers often play with their own language and, for example, they might intentionally make grammatical errors. For example, the elements of artificial language in Marius von Mayenburg’s work are quite difficult to translate so that they come across as an intentionally artificial language and not just as translation errors. When translating from English into German on the other hand, you often have the situation that languages that are specific to particular environments and dialects come across as much plainer and quickly develop ‘thigh-slapping’ potential. Do you often come across such cultural differences in your everyday work? Yes, definitely. Last week for example, we were in the UK and we had this project with three young English and three young German authors, and it was the case that we had different understandings of what theatre is. The attempt we Germans made to explain the notion of postdramatic theatre to the English authors was really fascinating. We stage a lot of Jelinek here for example, and the English authors asked us, as we were reading a Jelinek play, why we put this on stage and how. The theatre there is simply much more author-led, while here it tends to be director-led. This is really interesting: that there are two such different perspectives on a theme or aesthetic or way of writing. Where do you see critical points in ‘international theatre work’? I think we have to be careful in the theatre that festivals keep up a certain diversity and that it isn’t always the same things that are being invited – with Theater der Welt, for example, it’s different. And with the FIND

Festival too we try to invite plays that have never been shown in Germany or at least in Berlin, plays we believe we have something to learn from. Simply talking about the different theatre systems is a very productive exchange, because what you make ­theatre about and how you do it is very closely connected to what the society you’re doing it in looks like. I’m always very interested when people who don’t speak the language express their impression and when the expression corresponds to the idea behind the production. Then I have the feeling that the surtitles were good. I think it’s important for specificity to remain, for it not to fly away into a global space, but rather for it to keep its observational qualities and reflect on its city, its location and its own place in the world. This is something the theatre is great at: offering the possibility of putting yourself into other people’s shoes, projecting yourself into other structures.

Maja Zade was raised in Sweden and Germany. After her studies at London University and Queen’s University in Canada, she worked – first as an editor and from 2000 as a dramaturge and author – at the Schaubühne Berlin, where her plays “status quo” and “abgrund” premiered in 2019. Zade also translates plays from German, English and Swedish for the German-speaking world and the English-speaking world.

Dorothea Lautenschläger is a theatre and cultural studies scholar and had been working as a coordinator and assistant in various International Theatre Institute projects in Berlin since 2016. In 2019, she founded rua. a cooperative for text and directing with Sabine Westermaier, which supports networking and collaboration between directors and authors.

Dr Mich

biling Vision

oing ed age exd the t the nt for way keep on the great ourg

. d – first e and her ed in an, king

"I think we can learn a lot for


cultural exchange in a general sense from a bilateral model. Apart from that, when we started the culture portal in 2014, the tone between the two cultures was a bit unfriendly. We wanted to demonstrate an alternative type of communication and dialogue between the German- and the Greek-speaking regions, and as translators we’re predestined for that."

stuoronal 016. text hich tween

Dr Michaela Prinzinger

translates Greek literature and interprets. In 2013, she founded the bilingual culture platform and in 2017, the non-profit association Diablog Vision e. V., which has been organising cultural events in Berlin since 2018.


have st in hing difctive tre





The Wi haus a forget w guese d is know theatre his play person he expl who wa gifted c to stud her. (Eu


hus event intend sion. I transl pretin or loca percep and ev digita

play in play w Sonne of the they w man. T

1. Wien


ONCE TEN PEOPLE KNOW A POEM BY HEART… A Transcultural Referential Space: Theatre in Translation By Larisa Schippel / Translated by Kate McNaughton


hus reads the description of a theatrical event from the Wiener Festwochen 2016, which I intend to use as a hook for the following discussion. I want to investigate the question of how translation (be it written translation, interpreting in traditional or audio-visual formats, or localisation inter alia) can transform our perception, the possibilities for our perception and even its very nature in our globalised and digitalised existence. A Portuguese theatre director ­stages a play in English, and presents it in Vienna – a play whose contents are based on Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 30 and which summons ten members of the Austrian audience onto the stage, where they will learn the sonnet off by heart in German. The whole production is equipped with

German-English interpretation and has German surtitles, which were created by Dr Anna Kasten in Berlin for the HAU Hebbel am Ufer theatre. Shakespeare: Sonnet No. 30 When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste: Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow, For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night, And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe, And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight: Then can I grieve at grievances foregone, And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, Which I new pay as if not paid before. But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restor’d and sorrows end. The following translation was used in this production: Wenn ich zum stillen Rat in meiner Brust Entbiete die Erinn’rung alter Tage, Wein’ ich um manchen schmerzlichen Verlust Und füg’ zu altem Leid die neue Klage. Dann fließt mein Aug’, das selten Tränen trüben, Um Freunde, die des Todes Nacht verschlang, Es weint aufs neu um halb vergess’nes Lieben, Um mancher frohen Hoffnung Untergang.

1. Wiener Festwochen 2016 Programme. European Cultural News.


The Wiener Festwochen presented the Schauspielhaus audience with an evening they would never forget with their production of “By Heart” by Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues. Rodrigues, who is known in his home country for an approach to theatre that is as subversive as it is poetic, writes his plays himself, repeatedly drawing on his own personal experience in the process. In “By Heart”, he explores the story of his grandmother, Candida, who was born in 1919 and was an exceptionally gifted cook her whole life. She was never allowed to study, but always carried her love of books with her. (European Cultural News.1)

40 Und so, beschwert von alter Zeit Beschwerde, Seh’ Leid um Leid im Buch ich aufgemalt, Verwehtes Weh beugt tief mein Haupt zur Erde, Ich zahle neu, als hätt’ ich nie gezahlt. Doch denk ich dein, fühl ich das Leid entschweben Und, Liebster, nichts verlor ich je im Leben. Translation: Terese Robinson.2



ven a quick review of the options available reveals that a clever choice was made here out of a glut of German translations. The translator, Terese Robinson, née Therese Langenbach, from Germany, who had to emigrate to Sweden in 1939 and died in 1945 in Malmö, translated not only Shakespeare’s sonnets, which were reprinted many times, but also Baudelaire’s “Les fleurs du mal”.3 A search for further performances of “By Heart” with Tiago Rodrigues quickly yields results – in Portugal of course, but also in Italy, in the Netherlands, in Belgium, in Australia, in Canada... the list goes on. The blurb for the performance quotes George Steiner: “Once ten people know a poem by heart, there’s nothing the KGB, the CIA or the Gestapo can do about it. It will survive.” (George Steiner) From a translational perspective, we are dealing with several layers here – as we do in other theatrical performances too: first we have

the text of the drama/of the text/in this case: the poem in its original version and its translations as providing the basis for a play; then we have the staging process itself, which is also increasingly multilingual,4 and the performance of the play in different locations, which in turn use various translational methods – most commonly surtitles. Translation usually refers to a bilateral process, in which as a general rule two languages, and perhaps also cultures, are involved. And this process is usually located between the categories of what is native and what is foreign – meaning that the logic of translation is limited to something that transfers something native into a foreign language, or something foreign into one’s native language. But this is, even in the best of cases, merely scratching the surface.

ty of o it on t What intuit al, aco tion o – mak only w Other It can more o of sim formu ted us Such t this p interp in the



rt is, like science, a producer of knowledge. Theatres are, just like universities, institutions that generate knowledge, interpretations, perspectives – and therefore perceptions. Of course artistic perception functions differently to scientific perception, but that is not our concern here. Jan Assmann identifies three phases of knowledge production: exploration – textualisation – tradition.5 The phase of exploration takes place before verbalisation: it is intuitive, a sensing, feeling, hearing, reflecting, sensing the necessi-

he s nicati ses: ex pretin is the

6. Kelle 7. “We

it. (T




of us

2. Shakespeare, William: Sonette und andere Dichtungen, translated by Terese Robinson, Munich: Georg Müller 1927.


3. Incidentally, “Translators in Exile” is a group of people about which we know very little – in contrast to scientists, whose fates in exile have


been exhaustively explored, or artists – cf. “Künste im Exil” (“Arts in Exile”), a presentation by the German National Library. This should


hopefully change soon: the Translation History Research Group at the University of Vienna, together with research groups from Mainz


University (Translation Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, Prof Dr Andreas Kelletat) and from the Centre de traduction littéraire,


Lausanne (Prof Dr Irene Weber-Henking) is currently looking into the life and work of translators who were forced into exile by the Nazi


dictatorship within the framework of the “Exil: Trans” Research Project:



4. See Griesel, Yvonne: “Babel auf der Bühne. Translation zwischen Ästhetik und Pragmatik”, in: Natalie Bloch/Dieter Heimböckel/Elisabeth

Tropper (eds), Vorstellung Europa – Performing Europe. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Europa im Theater der Gegenwart, Berlin:


Theater der Zeit 2017, pp. 184-199.

the “

5. See Assmann, Jan: Ma’at. Gerechtigkeit und Unsterblichkeit im Alten Ägypten, Munich: Beck 2006.


se: nshen we so inance turn com-

eral gued. n the eign – mited tive ign n in rface.

dge. tions perourse o sciern of alisa-

ty of opening up a new field of investigation, be it on the individual or even on the social level. What Assmann calls textualisation gives this intuition a semiotic form, be it linguistic, visual, acoustic or multimedia. And this semiotisation of knowledge – its “translation” into signs – makes it stable and communicable. This is the only way in which it can become communicable. Otherwise it stays locked up in someone’s brain. It can be given the form of texts, or of other, more or less stable artefacts. For the purpose of simplicity, I will refer here to linguistically formulated texts, which are usually formulated using the resources of one single language. Such texts lend stability to that which is new, this perception, this new knowledge, this new interpretation. Through them, it takes its place in the world.


he semiotic mode of operation of all communication is based on two fundamental processes: expressing something as a sign and interpreting something as a sign. The basis for this is the human faculty of interpretation. “People

cannot not interpret,” says the semiotician Rudi Keller in a variation on Paul Watzlawick’s axiom about communication.6 The human faculty of interpretation precedes the faculty of communication – it is its condition. And an interpretation remains stable – whatever form it takes – for as long as it does not become an object of conflict. So long as interpreting subjects find a way of creating coherence for themselves, so long as they are able to interpret a statement as meaningful and to incorporate it into their own context, they will be faithful to their interpretation. Right and wrong are not applicable standards here. For its recipients, coherence is sufficient, desirable, necessary – any modification of their interpretation requires effort, and is therefore uneconomical and to be avoided at first.7 This is how local knowledge is generally produced – for this knowledge is initially monolingual and anchored in a specific culture. For it to become receivable beyond the borders of its language area, it requires translation. To return to Assmann’s triad of exploration, textualisation and tradition, this makes us move to the limit between the production and the anchoring

6. Keller, Rudi: Zeichentheorie: Zu einer Theorie semiotischen Wissens, Tübingen: A. Francke 1995.

e ng, cessi-

7. “We must in fact systematically make a distinction between what a word means and what a speaker in a particular situation means by

it. (The English language downright invites a confusion of categories in this case (Translator’s Note: unlike the German language,

which distinguishes between two types of “meaning”: “bedeuten” und “meinen”).) For the purpose of clarity, I would like to call the

former the meaning of an expression and the second the sense of a statement. [...] Knowing the meaning of a word or expression means

knowing how it is used in the language, knowing its rules of use. This meaning can be described though a specification of these rules

of use. What somebody means by a particular statement can be described through a specification of what this person intends to com-

municate through said statement. In other words: we specify the meaning of a word by formulating its rules of use, and we describe the

xile have

sense of a statement by making intentions explicit. [...] I would like to illustrate the difference using the analogy of chess (much-


loved by linguists). Anybody who knows how you can move a knight knows the meaning of this chess piece. Anyone who has recog-


nised the intention behind a particular move knows the sense of this move. The game of chess is like the game of language: the know-


ledge of the meaning of an expression is a necessary condition for being able to understand the sense of the use of that expression –


but it is not however a sufficient condition. The process of converting meaning into a sense that is specific to a particular context or

situation is what we call “interpretation” – and the aim of interpretation is understanding. What the listener is trying to understand is

(according to this terminology) not the meaning of a word or expression – he must know this already. Rather, the listener is trying to un-



derstand the sense of a statement on the basis of his/her knowledge of its meaning.“ Keller, Rudi: Evaluating. Lecture given as part of

the “Values and Evaluating” Conference at the University of California at Davis in October 2002.




42 of a perception through textualisation and its dissemination, or, to put it another way: to the issue of the reach of perception, of (new) knowledge.



erception starts off as local. How does it become multilingual and transcultural? The choice of a Shakespeare sonnet already gives the production we are examining here a transcultural core. Shakespeare is available in translation the whole world over – his famous Sonnet 66 alone is available in 150 German translations. This does not make the situation any simpler, since choice thus becomes a decisive problem. Which translation into French, Portuguese, Italian or any other language will best fit the performance, the staging in each country concerned? It is a question that Rodrigues, as director, asks himself and – for good reason – he is always involved in this choice. But Shakespeare is here only a means to an end. The real message is elsewhere. In order to e ­ nable this message, this idea, this knowledge, to become transculturally effective – i.e. to carry out the second part of the semiotic process, namely to achieve the desired interpretation in its recipients – we need translation, which thus now takes the text (the artefact), which is embedded and connected in its original context in a multitude of ways, to the new language area where it must deploy its new effect and connects it once more – with the respective already available translation of the source text (in this case: Shakespeare), with the audience’s conditions of reception, its conditions of knowledge. There will thus be a huge variety of connections to be made, all through the translation and interpretation (in the translational sense) of the production. These create the conditions for interpretation and thus for reception, and as such

are complementary to the visual, acoustic, etc. aspects of the production. The aim is reception in line with the intention behind the production. If this is successful, we enter the third phase of Assmann’s knowledge production: its perpetuation/tradition. The (new) perception or knowledge imposes itself, establishes itself, and can be disseminated. Translation now turns this process into a global option. Thanks to a translational expansion, this knowledge is no longer local – monolingual and spatially limited – but rather becomes multilingual and transcultural. In this way, it can now serve as a point of reference. This then produces a referential space that is multilingual and thus offers points of contact for subsequent processes. We can now imagine a field of communication in several languages, which can be further expanded, and within which stores of knowledge can circulate, accessible to anyone familiar with the language – and, within this field of knowledge, people can communicate about this same knowledge, refer to it, talk about and debate it, in order to then pass it on. This new, expanded field of knowledge was created thanks to translators. This idea of a field of knowledge, within which semiosis (the creation of meaning) can take place, can in my view be perfectly summed up using Lotman’s term of the semiosphere, meaning a discursive and symbolic space. Lotman also refers to this semiosphere using the term culture. The semiosphere includes different languages (in the sense of semiotic languages), which – like the hundred eyes of Argus – identify different things in the reality surrounding it.8 The limits of the field of communication are thus pushed forth from a semiotic perspective as long as the semiosis is sufficient, meaning as long as there are people who interpret

8. See Lotman, Yuri M.: Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture, translated by Ann Shukman, introduction by Umberto Eco,

London & New York: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd 1990.

texts them give t a way proces Eco ca

togeth loving

“Th fie was t

take t it as a somet no dan

Prof Dr L

Trans of Vie transl theory Beside she is SÜD. A setzen of “For

etc. ption uc-

ird : its on snow anks ge ally and as a fereners s. mue s of one his te

t on. dge a of s (the my an’s rsive this

ges), dennd-

ation specmeanet


texts in different languages – i.e. incorporate them into their own semiotic codes, are able to give them meaning, understand them in such a way that they mean something to them. This process is, in principle, unfinished. Umberto Eco calls it an "opera aperta". Thus, by making ten individuals think, together with Rodrigues, about his literatureloving grandmother and learn Sonnet 30 off by heart during each performance “This new, expanded of this production, and field of knowledge making other was created thanks people in the to translators.” audience follow this process and take the poem home (they are basically given it as an exit card), they will follow the idea that something they record inside their heads is in no danger so long as… they do not forget it.

Prof Dr Larisa Schippel was university professor for Transcultural Communication at the University of Vienna. Her main research interests include translation studies, textual sciences, orality theory and Slavic and Romanic cultural history. Besides numerous international publications, she is co-editor of the publication series “TRANSÜD. Arbeiten zur Theorie und Praxis des Übersetzens und Dolmetschens” as well as co-editor of “Forum: Rumänien”.




"The basic condition and the biggest challenge is: creating trust. All unanswered questions should be clarified in


advance, even if that sometimes means YEARBOOK ITI 2019

getting on the organisers’ nerves. Apart from that, the work requires a mixture of skills in theatre translation and interpreting competence: a linguistically polished translation of the original combined with sociocultural contextualisation, flexibility, precision and the ability to react quickly. And of course that’s always im-portant: being able to listen properly."

Irina Bondas,

who grew up in Kiev, works as a writer and certified interpreter and translator for international theatre and film festivals. She has pub-lished a book on simultaneous interpreting in the theatre. Her first mini-drama was performed in Bochum.

slator neous YEARBOOK ITI 2019




IT’S LIKE BOWLING… Dagmar Walser in Conversation with Toshiki Okada and Makiko Yamaguchi Translated by Anna Galt

de an th wo be say



For the last five years, writer and director Toshiki Okada and into German for the actors. The task is and interpreter and dramaturge Makiko Yamaguchi have to interpret, but also to communicate, in been working together regularly at the Münchner Kamother words, contributing dramaturgically. merspiele. After the premiere of “The Vacuum Cleaner” in December 2019, Dagmar Walser met them both to Toshiki Okada, you don’t speak German. What discuss working together and what role translation plays does that mean for you when you direct a play at a in rehearsals. German municipal theatre? Makiko Yamaguchi, how did you start working together in the first place?


TOSHIKI OK ADA: Because I’m not only the director, but also the author of the plays, I know the text very well, even if I don’t understand every word spoken in rehearsals. Makiko is beside me and is constantly whispering what is being said on stage to me. But to be honest, I’m not really listening a lot of the time, I’m watching the acting and the actors’ movements. I’m mostly interested if that’s being done right, or rather, how it’s changing. That can often actually work without the concrete level of language.

Matthias Lilienthal brought us together for Munich. We’ve known each other for a long time. I curated the festival Tokio – Shibuya: The New Generation with him in 2009 for the HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin. I was working for the Japan Foundation Cologne at the time, but had already helped Matthias with his Japan research when I was still working at the Goethe-Institute in Tokyo. Then in 2014, Matthias also commissioned a new piece by chelfitsch and Toshiki for Theater Lots of international directors use English as a der Welt in Mannheim (“Super Premium Soft third language. You don’t. Why not? Double Vanilla Rich”). And when he took over the Münchner Kammerspiele a year TOSHIKI OK ADA: later, he wanted Toshiki to work with the Over the years Makiko and I have become a Munich ensemble and he asked me if I would well-practiced team. We know that it works. too. But even if my English were better, I’m not sure if I would be confident enough to reWhat exactly is your role? hearse only in English. Of course there are times when we speak English. Like when an MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: actor approaches me and very deliberately The programme booklet says that I’m an addresses me in English. Then it’s usually interpreter and a dramaturge. In practice, about wanting to talk directly and not about these two roles often seamlessly blend into understanding a question or answer in each other. I’m at rehearsals and all meetdetail. And then I answer in English too. Or ings, I translate into Japanese for Toshiki sometimes I speak English voluntarily and

Jap on a ­J su th Ge for tak

How do


No wo I tr ma lat un me To wit com Jap can

Does th


Ye th tra mo nic sh inf the to my pro

lso very ord me eing m not tchnts. ne can te

me a orks. not eare n an tely lly about

o. Or and

deliberately if it’s about a certain method and it seems important to express something very simply. But in the long-term, it would be frustrating for me: the difference between what I want to say and what I can say in English would be too big.

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: Japanese and German are very different on lots of levels. Sometimes, for example, a ­Japanese sentence doesn’t even have a subject, sometimes it has several. And so you think quite differently in Japanese than in German. Something that has become normal for me by now, but for everyone else it always takes some time to get used to of course. How do you translate? Word for word?

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: No, that wouldn’t even be possible and wouldn’t make a lot of sense usually either. I try to understand Toshiki’s or the actors’ main statement or main concern and translate it. That’s why I sometimes just leave out unnecessary phrases or redundant statements, because they could be a distraction. Toshiki talks the way he writes: usually with a lot of sub-clauses and the conclusion comes right at the end, like it often does in Japanese. I have to decide each time how I can best communicate that, or translate it. Does that mean it always depends on the situation?

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: Yes, sure, the context is the most important thing. Traditionally, interpreting means translating exactly what’s being said. No more and no less. But especially here in Munich, I once again realised that if there is no shared context (theatre training, aesthetics, infrastructure, understanding of theatre), then more has to be translated. So I have to ask questions, paraphrase, add things myself, so that the situation is understood properly.

That sounds like you constantly have to make decisions and differentiate between what’s important and what’s correct?

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHII: Exactly, because it’s ultimately not about my opinion. My teacher in my interpreting training worked in Europe for 23 years and translated between Japanese, German and English. I’ve remembered one of his – usually very distinctive – ideas very often: he says that interpreters also have to be good performers. It’s not just about translating correctly, but also about taking the non-verbal into account and that the interpreter basically becomes part of the speaker so they can reinforce their credibility. For example, if Toshiki goes onto the stage to explain something in rehearsal, I go with him. And when he shows an actor a movement, then I do it too. That was a lot of fun! Toshiki, you don’t understand what exactly Makiko is translating. Isn’t that also stressful for you?

TOSHIKI OK ADA: The opposite, it gives me time. Because of our many years of experience, it’s also not so important for me how well or correctly she translates. It’s important for me to see whether what I say and Makiko translates reaches the actors and whether something changes or improves. It’s like bowling… I throw the ball and then I have to wait to see what it does. And whether it strikes. Has it gotten easier for all of you to understand each other over the years?

TOSHIKI OK ADA: You might think so, but I’m not sure if it’s really like that. What’s important is that it’s not just us two who have become a wellrehearsed team, but that the stage designer Dominic Huber, the dramaturge Tarun Kade and the costume designer Tutia Schaad


k is n ally.




were also involved in every project. Andreas Regelsberger translated every play – during the rehearsal period. And it was also important that the actor Thomas Hauser performed in all four plays. Our understanding for each other constantly grew in this team. But my aesthetic has also changed over these years and so there were always new challenges too.

When we talk about international or intercultural productions, there are often stereotyped ideas of what that means: How does the German municipal theatre work? What are Japanese people like? As a theatre-goer, that’s how it was for me, so that at your first production in Munich – “Hotpepper, Air Conditioner and the Farewell Speech” – I quite often thought, two different aesthetics are actually colliding with each other here. With “No Sex” and MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: “The Vacuum Cleaner”, although they mainly also In the first production, it was most imporlook at Japanese phenomena, it seemed much more tant to me that Toshiki, because he was the organic to me and the interaction seemed to have only one who couldn’t speak German and matured. You said how important it was that you was “foreign”, worked together as a team continuously. The prowasn’t linduction “No-Theater” was also shown at a festival “It’s like bowling… guistically in Kyoto. Was it important that the German artists learned more about Japan and Japanese theatre isolated. I throw the ball and That risk has and its audience through that tour? then I have to wait to decreased, see what it does.” TOSHIKI OK ADA: because the I don’t think you learn a lot about Japan others unon such a short tour. What was much more derstand his work better now, even if it does interesting for me was that the Japanese aukeep on developing of course. But it’s less dience experienced something new. A piece ‘exotic’ and on top of that, we’ve gotten to of work by me about Japan, a critical analyknow the German municipal theatre system sis of Noh theatre, from today’s point of view, and its structures better – and have learned to understand it. but performed by German not Japanese actors – with Japanese surtitles. That was a Was that also a challenge concerning translation? new experience for the Japanese audience, that they first had to translate this criticism MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: of Japan for themselves. There are certain terms that are understood differently in German-speaking theatre Has your work changed through your experiences than Toshiki maybe means them. Emotion, in Munich in the last few years? pity, empathy, psychology, performance, e.g., those are terms that are sometimes imported TOSHIKI OK ADA: from English and therefore also exist in My way of working has changed. It’s beJapanese and which have very specific come more collective. Because as a director, meanings in the German-speaking theatre I’m in a weak position in Munich, even if context, but a very different one for Toshiki’s I’m directing my own play: because I don’t understanding of theatre, depending on the understand the German language, depend on Makiko, because the context was new for situation. I have to be careful then, because me. That led to a way of working together it’s a big opportunity for misunderstandings. – On the other hand, now and again I wonder where I depend on a lot of people. That was whether misunderstandings should always new for me and it changed my work with my be avoided, or whether they aren’t just simply group chelfitsch too. part of the process – and even important.

In what


He sit th the int fit tog the bu th

Makiko you too produc a depar you wo Japane What r


It w wh bo lat the wa fir Th kn ba it w tha cat

In the l gotten You’ve years. H ged thr


Th no the



n ore se aupiece nalyf view, e as a nce, ticism

eector, if on’t pend w for her was th my

In what way?

TOSHIKI OK ADA: Here in Germany you spend a lot of time sitting together at rehearsal and talking and thinking about all kinds of things, the play, the actors’ feelings, the context… I’ve now introduced that to the rehearsals with chelfitsch too, that we sit around a round table together and talk, so not just that I just tell them what to do as the writer and director, but that everyone contributes and discusses things with each other. Makiko, in “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession”, you took part in the role of event organiser. The production was mainly funded by the Asia Center, a department at the Japan Foundation, for whom you work and which supports networking between Japanese artists and those from South-East Asia. What role does translation play there?

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: It was an exciting job in every sense. For the whole process, including research trips in both countries, a total of seven of us translators and interpreters were hired. We took the translation process very seriously. It was more than two and a half years from the first discussions to the premiere in Bangkok. The whole team took a lot of time to get to know all the contexts, cultures, histories and backgrounds. For a Japanese co-production, it was a totally new way of working together, that so much value was placed on communicating on an equal level. In the last few years, German-speaking theatre has gotten much more international and multilingual. You’ve both been working internationally for many years. Has your view of the role of translation changed through your experiences in the last few years?

TOSHIKI OK ADA: Theatre is always translation. It’s just more noticeable in international theatre. Because then there’s always surtitles and the lan-

guage spoken on stage is often not the same as that of the audience. I do actually think it’s interesting to see where situations like that also create new artistic opportunities. Like for example: an actor in Munich, I can’t remember exactly who, once said during rehearsal that she enjoys the time period when she has to wait until Makiko has translated, as a space for reflection. That you can’t and don’t have to react immediately… and this in-between space, this time delay is important and valuable for me as an artist too. Even when I’m directing in a purely ­Japanese context.

MAKIKO YAMAGUCHI: What’s important is that the ­constellation is right and that there’s enough time to find a shared language for each production. Because the devil is usually in the detail and maybe in the end the biggest misunderstandings are not intercultural ones, but about understanding between two individuals. What these projects made really clear to me yet again is how important all those people who are not at all “Theatre is always visible at the end are for translation. It’s just a successmore noticeable ful show, so in international interpreters, theatre.” translators, etc., who are dedicated to ensuring good communication. These competencies and a creative way of dealing with them seem to me, even if it is a lot of work, to be important and deserving of ­support especially in a globalised and English-speaking world.




50 Toshiki Okada is considered the most important director in contemporary Japanese theatre. In 1997, he founded the theatre company chelfitsch in Tokyo, whose productions he writes and directs. The works of chelfitsch – known for their distinctive choreographies of movement and the use of Japanese vernacular language – have been honoured with several awards and are regularly shown in Europe. In 2020, he was invited to Theatertreffen with his play “The Vacuum Cleaner”.



Makiko Yamaguchi has worked at Goethe-Institute in Tokyo and for the Japan Foundation in ­Cologne. For the cultural foundation of the city of T ­ okyo, she built an international network in the field of arts and culture. Since 2015, she has been working for the Japan Foundation’s Asia Centre, where she is responsible for supporting artistic exchange in the field of contemporary performing arts within Asia. As a dramaturge and translator at the Münchner Kammerspiele, she mediates between Toshiki Okada and the ensemble.

Dagmar Walser is a theatre critic and editor at Swiss Radio SRF2Kultur and member of the programme group of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel. Together with Barbara Engelhardt, she published the anthology “Eigenart Schweiz. Theater in der Deutschschweiz seit den 90er Jahren” with the publishing house Theater der Zeit.



then at int


"WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT TRANSLATING PLAYS FOR YOU?" "All the various strands of my life came together in theatre translation: my international experience, languages and my acting training, which I had just finished at the time. In 2012, I decided to make the-atre I wanted to create something of my own and take international plays out of the publishers’ drawers and give them a staged reading. And so in 2013, AMBIGÚ was born, a series of staged readings with an interactive approach. Here too, it was ultimately about releasing the sound of the words from the page and giving people a chance to experience them in the space. The most important thing for me in the-atre translation is to hear the text, to treat it as spoken word, without over-simplifying it. It’s good when I feel like I can hear the voice of the author in German."

Franziska Muche first worked in Brussels at the Academic C ­ ooperation Association (ACA) and then changed to drama translation. Translates well-known Spanish authors and surtitles at international festivals. Founder of AMBIGÚ, a series that presents contemporary plays.


translation my profession. At the same time,



You’re f were w newspa the who your in


I ju mu kn kn we cu com sta cu aW lik

Was th

De in am

When a becaus langua

Th ha am of of Mu


RESPECT AND NORMALITY BEING ACCEPTED FOR ONCE Yvonne Griesel in Conversation with Matthias Lilienthal

You’re from West Berlin and as early as 1983, you were writing about East Berlin theatre for the taz newspaper. You were one of the only ones who used the whole city. Was that the foundation stone of your intercultural work?

MAT THIAS LILIENTHAL: I just thought the theatre in the East was much more interesting, it was a totally unknown, new world, I just wanted to get to know it. But of course, the GDR and the FRG were two different states. In that sense, the cultural transfer between them was more complicated and was based on the misunderstanding that everyone came from the same culture. There was an East Berlin dialect and a West Berlin dialect, and still they worked like two different languages. Was that hard for you? Definitely! When I started at the Volksbühne in November 1991, I was the only West German among 285 people. At least that’s how it felt. When a theatre works internationally, it’s usually because of the artistic director’s background and languages. It wasn’t like that at the Kammerspiele. There were two different reasons. On the one hand, 43 percent of Munich’s residents have a migration background and the ensemble of a municipal theatre should be a reflection of the city’s society. Cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Vienna might have a

lot of migrants, but still their theatre’s ensemble mostly have German backgrounds. Even worse: you might nearly get the impression that everyone at acting schools are blond and have blue eyes. But the majority of Germans are not blond with blue eyes. That’s why we put ourselves under ­pressure and wanted 40 percent of all the actors in our ­ensemble to not have a “biologically German” background. And the second aspect? Through my work at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer and international festivals, a group of regular directors crystallised: Toshiki Okada, Rabih Mroué, Amir Reza Koohestani and Yael Ronen. We asked ourselves how we could integrate them into the municipal theatre, the ensemble and the repertoire. Apart from that, we used 30 percent of our resources for co-producing independent projects. The Münchner Kammerspiele are in a good position financially. If you work with T ­ oshiki Okada, you should spend the money on hiring Makiko Yamaguchi too, who firstly interprets out of Japanese, but also works dramaturgically. Only that way can you make sure you have the precision and cultural transfer that you need for the work, and also want to have. Has the audience changed too in terms of the number of people with a migrant background? Has anything changed because of your approach?


Translated by Anna Galt


54 Not across the board, but at shows like Anta The Kammerspiele has gotten people pretty hot Helena Recke’s “Mittelreich”, there were under the collar in the last few years. Did the suddenly significantly more People of Color international direction have a share in that? in the audience. If there are 90 Black people in 400, you first think: that picture is wrong. It played a role too. When people were anBut it’s not. What’s wrong is when there are noyed about the English surtitles, we did no Black people in the audience. And when of course wonder, what’s the audience so there are suddenly 40 percent of people with annoyed about? They don’t have to look at a migration background or 25 percent PoC them. There was also some annoyance about there, then that is normality being accepted Arabic being spoken in “Dionysos Stadt”, for for once. In “Hellas München”, we really had example. They said: it’s a German theatre a lot of Greeks in the audience. That was also and German should be spoken there. When because one performer, who works at Munich Arabic is spoken on stage, they get even Airport, is very active on social media and more annoyed than when English is spobrought lots of people to the theatre that ken. When Damian Rebgetz speaks with an way. English accent, it’s rather considered more charming. So you can plan diversity in theatre, both in a social and in an international context. Why did the audience get annoyed about the surtitles? In principle, yes. If you’re working with a lot of young people and refugees, like with Because it was distracting. They also said “#love”, then there are a lot of people with that there wasn’t any audience that didn’t a migrant background in the audience understand German anyway. But we have and refugees come to the theatre too. We proof that contradicts that. In two or three haven’t really yet gotten to the point at the shows, there were no surtitles for technical Kammer-spiele that there are consistently reasons. Afterwards we had 15 to 30 compeople with a migration background in the plaints. Based on the assumption that 300 audience in the everyday operation of the people attend the shows, that’s still almost theatre, the way it was at the HAU Hebbel am 10 percent of the audience. Ufer in Berlin. Did you ever regret introducing English surtitles? Do you see that as a political task in today’s world? No, it’s not just the Kammerspiele that does We were already doing this before the AfD it. It’s normal in festivals. It started around positioned itself so clearly, but of course now ten years ago, English surtitles being shown it’s fun for me to really beat that drum more in German theatres. I think it’s great. What loudly than before. The municipal theatre I do regret more is that we weren’t able to was founded in Weimar and Mannheim keep it up consistently in the Kammer 2 and around 1800 and was actually 70 years 3 as well. But that had financial reasons. The earlier than the German nation. That’s why surtitles in Kammer 1 cost around 100,000 national and municipal theatres are so Euro a year. In terms of the idea, I would bound to the German language. Back then it have found it more consistent to offer it in was a revolutionary act, but the municipal all three spaces. theatres still feel bound to it today. On a certain level we’ve tried to question that. The artists at the Kammerspiele work in Arabic, Japanese, English and other languages. I always

had the barrier passan

No an lin we sh mi We ag th en It d yo son are

You can

On hir wa the Yo can of ma tha Ia

In thea franca. everyth Germa

Th me sh I re an wa can the ap jus

aid n’t ve hree nical m300 most

does ound hown What to 2 and s. The 000 d t in

had the feeling that the language and cultural barriers are solved during the rehearsal process en passant. Is that true? Not exactly, I always insisted on hiring an interpreter for the rehearsals in multilingual productions or when Syrian actors were involved. When everyone’s nerves are shot in the last two weeks before the premiere, it all depends on precise translation. We had a rehearsal situation a few weeks ago, for example, where my English and that of the dramaturge were not precise enough to describe what we wanted to say. It depends on very subtle meanings. Then you need an interpreter. That’s another reason why we invested a lot of money in that area. You can really see that. Once in a production by Toshiki Okada we hired a different interpreter than usual. She was very good, but she didn’t understand the subtle meanings of theatre terminology. You need people who can interpret well and can also deal with the special circumstances of theatre. For example, lots of interpreters make my Tarantino German much fancier than it is. But then I can’t communicate what I actually wanted to say anymore. In theatre, English has become a kind of lingua franca. Still, you always vehemently insist that everything in English should be surtitled in German.

express in this way. Of course it has ­negative sides too. Sometimes translating English texts takes away their aura. But accessibility is more important to me relative to that. Sometimes surtitles are a very strong intervention into the text because they need to be shortened. There’s normally no final check on your side. Is that not “When Arabic is strange? spoken on stage,

they get even more annoyed than when English is spoken.”

No, I know how it works, because I shortened texts for surtitles myself at the beginning when I was a dramaturge. I think it’s bad when the surtitles are flying around taking up so much space that you can’t look at the stage anymore. Because I barely notice them here, I trust your team totally. That’s something very special and rare. Do you think this international development in theatres will continue? Or will it swing back to the national, as we see happening politically at the moment? It’s not just an isolated movement in the theatre. Berlin has an English-speaking ­population for example that very much influences life there. Completely new questions will also have to be asked in the festival business. Will cultural exchange be limited again because of the climate crisis, what role does globalisation play? All questions we’ll have to renegotiate.

That’s a question of respect for me. Audience members who can’t speak such good English Some smaller cities have also started to surtitle in should understand everything too. Just like English. But the question of the audience you reach I respect the people who can’t speak German is asked even more there. and provide them with English surtitles, I want to do the same thing for people who The first year here people had to get used can’t speak English so well. On top of that, to it slowly, although English is the working the surtitle facilities are already there and language in big corporations like Siemens a person who operates the titles. For me, it’s in Munich. The technical master’s degrees just a question of respect that I’m trying to at the TU Munich have been completely


nid o k at about t”, for re hen n oh an more


56 switched to English. But attracting these people to the theatre is very hard. Their first thought is: theatre in Germany is nothing for me, I don’t understand anything. That we did it anyway is part of a project of raising awareness. And the fact that it annoys the AfD followers is just one more reason to do it of course.

I wish no one would be bothered by your work anymore and that international access becomes something that’s not questioned on all stages. I think you guys do a great job and I hope it’s not a development that will disappear again in the next five years.

Matthias Lilienthal has been the artistic director of


For years people who speak different languages have been working on artistic projects here. But I have the feeling that language plays a smaller role, because the main focus is on the shared project. Of course, over the years the ensemble has learned to deal with cultural differences and learned to process them in different ways. The ensemble has transformed from an ensemble of actors into a project-maker ensemble. The actors and performers are extremely culturally educated project partners. But in a certain way the Kammerspiele is also a deceptive package. Half of the plays are developed in English. But later they seem like German-speaking productions.


the Münchner Kammerspiele since the 2015/16 season. Following his time as head dramaturge of Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg Platz in the 1990s, he was the artistic director and manager of HAU Hebbel am Ufer (2003-2012) and programme director for Theater der Welt (2002 and 2014).

Were there any reactions to people speaking with accents on stage? Yes, at the start there was and very strong ones. Some actors were booed off the stage and of course that really hurts them. But a lot of questions just went away after three years, people get used to things and you can’t even remember it being any different. Are you sorry you already have to stop now? There’s one level where I have that feeling, there are things I still haven’t done. Other things didn’t get enough time and then there are other things where the five years have already been too long. To conclude, what would you like to see from us surtitlers?


study tiona

r of 5/16 urge n the nager 2 and

"WHAT ROLE DID SURTITLES PLAY IN YOUR CAREER AND WHAT MAKES GOOD SURTITLES?" "Definitely a big one. The rhythmic precision required and the textual understand-ing of plays from different language re-gions have made me aware of a really wide range of theatre material and at both festivals and in permanent theatres, I have met many international theatre-makers. Good surtitles should be perfectly short-ened dramaturgically without losing any content or style, so that the newly ­c reated text doesn’t distract the audience and works in harmony with what’s happening on the stage and the overall production."

Monica Marotta works as a production man-ager, interpreter, translator and surtitler. After studying in Naples, from the turn of the century on she worked in Berlin for many internaR tional festivals before becoming project manager at Studio R.


ur ccess ned at job will



How did



Th ou we Tin lam Of tan sto We ty: as ev Ch Id we tog sh an ing in ­Sc mo rep

Why di

Ma 200 to fir ha no sp ins Bro


AND THEN I STORMED OUT… Yvonne Griesel in Conversation with Voxi Bärenklau

How did you get into theatre?

VOXI BÄRENKLAU: Through Christoph Schlingensief. I started out as a visual artist in the 1980s: I would weld together scrap metal into motorised Tinguely-like figures with in-built neon lamps. Then I studied with Werner Nekes in Offenbach and Schlingensief was his assistant. He was an attraction and immediately stole all my friends. I couldn’t resist him. We were then headhunted from the university: I worked as a camera assistant, Christoph as an assistant director, and we thought everyone who worked in the field was crap. Christoph plotted against the director and I drove the cameraman off the project – we were such arseholes. But that’s how we came together in 1987. He was in the middle of shooting “Mutters Maske” (Mother’s Mask), and he asked me if I wanted to do the lighting. I just couldn’t ever mention to a ­ nyone in the film industry that I worked with ­Schlingensief or I wouldn’t have got any more work. He had something of a ruinous reputation. Why did you then move to the Volksbühne? Matthias Lilienthal saw the film “Terror 2000” and argued strongly for ­Schlingensief to join the Volksbühne. Then we made our first joint production there. I didn’t really have the first clue about theare – but why not? The work we did during rhearsals wasn’t spontaneous enough for S ­ chlingensief; instead, he invited Peter Sloterdijk, Bazon Brock, Boris Groys, Carl Hegemann and

other theoreticians to a symposium and we developed “Atta Atta – die Kunst ist ­ausgebrochen” (Atta Atta – Art has B ­ roken Out). The principle was to shoot a film in which people – including famous actors such as Hannelore Elsner and Otto Sander – would walk from the Brandenburg Gate to the Volksbühne, and we would film it and pretend it was happening live. At the time, luckily, video technology was somewhat more digitalised than analogue cinema. We shot films for a stage production for the first time and pretended people were watching them live onstage. We would pretend to film the actors live up to the foyer, where they put on Ku-Klux-Klan hoods. Then extras wearing Ku-Klux-Klan hoods came into the auditorium, and we filmed them live. That was how I got into theatre. Castorf introduced live cameras into his work later, when Bert Neumann started to build sets that couldn't be seen by the audience. Nowadays reviewers often say that we got the idea from Castorf, who’d already done it much better than us. But whatever (laughs). Following your collaboration with Christoph ­Schlingensief, it took a while before you produced any work for the theatre again. Christoph’s death was a terrible loss. He left a huge vacuum behind him and it took me five years to work through it. But then I got a call from Kay Voges, who wanted to meet me because his video artist had dropped out. We met at eleven and talked all day and all night – even though it was the middle of the Berlinale. We barely talked about the project


Translated by Kate McNaughton



itself, but it was clear from the start: we’d be working together! It was another really special meeting of minds. I was so happy because at last I’d found someone again who I could develop something with in a playful manner. He knows about film, is always open to new things – he’s a very congenial partner for me! It’s insane, what we put on stage – things like “Stadt der Blinden” (City of the Blind) in Hamburg or “Dies Irae – Tag des Zorns” (Dies Irae – Day of Wrath) at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Digital technology is a gift for us; we’re like children, always trying out new stuff. Lots of nonsense – but at the end you have something too. Let’s talk about your work – I’m wondering what surtitles, which increasingly constitute an integral part of theatre productions, mean to you and for your work? The absolute best experience I had with surtitles was in Stockholm. Two years ago, we had a premiere at the Bergmann Festival with “Huset vid nattens Ände” by S ­ ebastian Hartmann, in which we worked a lot with projections. It was a dark production, in which every light had a sophisticated effect – it was all very complex, just the way I like it. When I asked about the surtitles, they kept telling me: “They’re on their way…” They didn’t arrive though – we didn’t have them for the dress rehearsal. The surtitles were ready for the premiere. And I thought it was going to kill me. The light scatter from the surtitle projections – it’s actually black light, but it still has a light value – in front of this carefully lit set. It completely ruined it. I flipped out! It was a disaster, as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t bear it and I stormed out to see the production manager. Then during the interval they found a way of setting it so that the whole stage lighting wasn’t destroyed by the surtitles. We’re now seeing more and more productions with English surtitles, not just when they’re on tour, but

also when they’re part of a theatre’s repertoire. Wouldn’t it be good for them to be given some aesthetic consideration? Yes, it’s ridiculous that people only think about the surtitles right at the end and don’t view them as that important. I’m always happy when I have surtitles, because sometimes I need them too. Usually you want to give them some consideration, but then you miss the starting point from which you should be thinking about them. Really they should be incorporated into the set from the start. Mostly it’s simply a lack of resources – either in people’s heads or in practice. Theatres aren’t prepared of course to pay for a surtitler who would be involved that early as in the rehearsal process. But really they should. Even I only get to be involved if I personally make sure I am. And then I discuss with my set designer how we should deal with the surtitling. But I have to ask around myself to find out who’s responsible for it and that requires an incredible amount of energy. At the Volksbühne, they’ve got this LED system, which is quite dominant visually, and which is now installed permanently. “Surtitling always If I want to has to fight for this see what efsort of stepmotherly fect it has on existence, because my lighting there are so many design, often other things to the people I deal with and so need aren’t people pay too little around for me attention to it.” to be able to try something out. But it’s important to do this, as the surtitles can massively change the stage design. Sometimes we simply hung the LED system higher up, painted it a bit, so that it wouldn’t look quite so bad. But the fact that it’s a wall of LEDs and not a projection with light scatter, that is definitely an advantage.

Would atively,

Th the sty a lo the int LE we wi Th pro for tit we for dr

Wouldn VR gla indepen

No vis Ot the the jus we siv Su of are pe wh yo rea

Would when y produc

I re est tio

ces – heata suras in hould. nally h my he self that y. D ly,

ys his erly use ny o o ttle ”

suresign. tem uldn’t wall scat-

Would it be possible to handle surtitles more creatively, then? There are definitely possibilities to design the surtitles differently, to integrate them stylistically. In “Don’t be evil”, which played a lot with social media, a WhatsApp look, etc., the English surtitles could easily have been integrated into the screens. But because the LED wall is fixed, we only thought about how we could hang it a bit higher, because otherwise it would get in the way of the spotlight. The way Kay and I work on the look of our productions – with an excessive supply of information – it isn’t really that bad if the surtitles are hanging higher up. But of course we could have incorporated the textual information into the design, which would have drawn the audience in even more. Wouldn’t you prefer it if the audience was wearing VR glasses, so that the surtitles were basically independent of the stage design? Not really. I prefer it when I can shape the visual impression made by my productions. Otherwise it’s too hard to control the look of the play. I’d rather do something else with the glasses – use them consciously, and not just for surtitles. But it really is a shame that we didn’t work more consciously and intensively with the surtitles for “Don’t be evil”. Surtitling always has to fight for this sort of stepmotherly existence, because there are so many other things to deal with and so people pay too little attention to it. Which is why often you’re sadly just left with a screen you have to project onto, or an LED system – really boring actually. Would it help if surtitlers were involved as early as when you are discussing the initial concept for a production? I really think it would make a lot of sense to establish this in theatres. The way productions are developed today, the director tends

to develop the text very freely. Especially with someone like Kay, who develops the text spontaneously: there often isn’t a script till the end. It develops. This process is celebrated and it needs to be too. And then you feel put under pressure by the surtitles and you’d rather not have someone there from the beginning. But in my view we should be encouraging directors to engage with this. Then you could play around with it, and it’s only then that we’ll be able to develop new forms. What would be important would be for us to see you – as surtitles personified, you might say. If you were involved early in the discussion about the concept, it would probably be clearer to us: we’re going to have surtitles here, we have to think about that too and maybe do things completely differently this time. But of course it always depends on the individuals involved. It really requires a certain sensitivity in the early phases of a production. But then I could imagine it working really well. Your presence could change a lot of things.

Voxi Bärenklau After his studies in Fine Arts at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach, Voxi Bärenklau worked as a cameraman for film and television – for directors such as Helge Schneider, Michael Ballhaus and Martin Scorsese. From 2002 on, his close artistic collaboration with Christoph Schlingensief, with whom he made numerous films, brought him to renowned European theatres and opera houses as a lighting and video designer. Since 2006, Bärenklau has also been teaching Digital Film at the design department of FH Dortmund.


nk don’t s oment hen h you they m the




"Translating literature and theatre too consists of hearing, recognising the tone of the literary voice(s) – how it’s made, and then recreating that with the tools of your own language. In theatre translation – with the more

realist, naturalist written plays – a characteristic way of speaking is created for every character,


which must function as a basis for the actors and the director. With plays that place a lot of emphasis on form (usually classical ones), this way of speaking is artistically modified. In many mod-ern plays, instead there is more of an author’s tone (similar to in works of prose) with different amounts of naturalness and artificiality. Depending on the type of text, the tone that must be struck is generated from a characteristic interaction between the stylised shaping of language and the attitude of the speaking voice(s)."

Dr. Frank Heibert is a translator, author and musician. In 2015/16, he held the August Wilhelm von Schlegel guest professorship at the FU Berlin. Has been awarded many prizes for his translations. Holds seminars, including on drama translation.








lhelm or his






Archives of the Performing Arts in the Digital Age By Christine Henniger and Maxim Wittenbecher / Translated by Anna Galt



However, the effects of digital technologies on the practice, knowledge and records of the theatre are neither positive nor negative per se. They must be understood Every process in the performing arts leaves traces and signs behind that have a relationship of tension with the and questioned in terms of their effect and effectiveness ‘now character’ of the performance event. These must be in order to make use of their advantages and to be able translated into a form, in which they can still be read and to assess and identify their (immanent) problems. understood beyond the present. This process of translating theatre from the past into the future is the task and What is not experienced in the present of the performance’s space-time can never be ­fully challenge of the institutions of memory and knowledge known. The performance disappears again that have dedicated themselves to collecting, recording in the moment it is created, the performance and making findable collections and archives of the carries its own disappearance in itself as one performing arts. of its main characteristics.2 Archiving the The possibilities for structuring information in performing arts and handing down what once the digital age, for networking, linking and transferring shared knowledge, and therefore also enabling knowledge was from the past to the future seems therefore to be an unusual process that seems to about theatre to be experienced in diverse ways, offer be contrary to the actual character of this art completely new methods of accessing these traces and form. What remains are possibly merely a few signs. Until now, we have not paid much attention to these methods, partly because of their dependence on leftovers,3 which are not directly the work of technology and therefore the apparent accompanying art, but rather represent it in parts – a pluridisempowerment of the individual, partly because of medial4 puzzle that can barely be put back how close the digital is to the technological and scientific together (again) into a whole. What remains of domains of knowledge, which (previously) seemed incom- the theatre – the leftovers, which supposedly patible with knowledge about the theatre. arise accidentally, but also the documentation

1. The title is a reference to the essay by Martin Nachbar and Jochen Roller: “Was das Archiv gewesen sein wird” (What the Archive Will

Have Been), in: Wolfgang Schneider/Henning Fülle/Christine Henniger (eds), Performing the Archive. Studie zur Entwicklung eines

Archivs des Freien Theaters, Hildesheim/Zürich/New York: Universitätsverlag Hildesheim 2018, pp. 202–224.

2. Peggy Phelan, for example, views the ephemerality of the performing arts as one of their essential features. See Phelan, Peggy:

Unmarked. The Politics of Performance, London: Routledge 2013.

that is provid what w exper formin event an inh more c this k and ti


ak availa analys big ch ory in in the cially is a co negot institu search consid access

that tr terms its pot findab the ba sificat first a and ca in rela contex alway in the the bi of info

3. The project coordinated by Dr Susanne Foellmer addresses this problem: “ÜberReste. Strategien des Bleibens in den darstellenden

Künsten“, which was funded by the DFG from 2014–2018.

4. Prof Jan Lazardzig calls attentions to this thingly diversity of leftovers in his “Drei Thesen zu einer zeitgemäßen Überlieferungs

strategie des theaterkulturellen Erbes” (Three Theses on a Contemporary Archiving Strategy of Theatre-Cultural Heritage), which he

5. F.A.

presented at an event organised by the Runder Tisch Berliner Theaterarchive (Round Table of Berlin Theatre Archives) at the Deutsches

Theater Berlin in 2018:

6. For a



the lly

ce ne

nce reo art few of ri-

s of dly tion



in their plurimediality and the relationship of the objects to the dynamic nature of the ­theatre event. No model of archiving is currently f­ ully suitable for addressing the “eventness” of theatre as well as the focus on objects inherent to the archive itself. None of them allows information on the performing arts that spans both documentation and the event to be sufficiently described. What used to be organised and classified with finding aids, classification lists and index cards now usually takes place digitally in databases, formalised in various data models. The transition to the digital age in the knowaking information on objects and events ledge and memory institutions for the performavailable so that they can be interpreted and ing arts happened slowly and is still ongoing. analysed in the performing arts is one of the Yet precisely this may present an opportunity big challenges faced by the knowledge and mem- for the special relationship of the performing ory institutions that look after theatre archives arts, in their inextricable link to the event and processuality, to the archive, in its centeredness in their everyday work. Archiving and especially creating records of theatre performances on objects and facticity. is a complex process that has to be continually negotiated and in the best case takes internal institutional archiving systems and ­external he use of so-called structured data offers a search and research methods equally into consideration, in order to offer as many ways to very promising option for being able to react to access the information as possible for posterity. the demands described above.6 It enables findability and comparability by making recurring The use of a specific language system types of information on objects and artefacts that tries to capture the history of an object in findable in recurring places. Structured data in terms of its creation and reception as well as its potential future in the form of preservation, an archive, and this is a significant advantage findability and classification has always been for records of the performing arts, is ­therefore the basis of archive work. While archival clasno longer bound to the physical materiality of sification in the traditional sense concentrates objects. Increasingly, data on non-tangible “obfirst and foremost on the precise description jects” is also recorded in a structured way. This and cataloguing of physical archive objects means: it allows ephemera like the events of in relation to the rest of the collection and the performances and productions to be described context of the collection in institutions, this is in a structured way. always already a problem for archival practice While in the past, relational databases 5 in the performing arts. This is because one of were mainly used to store data like this in table the biggest problems of the archival recording format, today flexible and dynamic technoloof information about the performing arts lies gies and methods are more frequently used,





ch he

5. F.A. Cramer and B. Büscher’s DFG-funded research project “Verzeichnungen” tries to exlpore this problem using tools from


performative practice:

6. For an explanation of structured data, see e.g. here:


pracher tood veness able

that is deliberately produced – can however also provide access to what was experienced live and what was not experienced, to what cannot be experienced, what has happened in the performing arts. Every object that documents an event process in the performing arts contains an inherent explanatory power, which must be more closely examined and which can translate this knowledge about this event across space and time.



such as the linked data application7 and the Resource Description Framework (RDF).8 Here the information is saved as a collection of many individual, clearly defined, almost natural linguistic statements, containing a subject, predicate and object. “Frank Castorf is the director of ‘Die Brüder Karamasov’” is an example of such a statement. The number of statements about a person, a production, a video, etc. are unlimited. It is precisely the fact that they are unlimited that gives the system of these initially simpleseeming statements its flexibility and dynamism. The data models behind such a system, described as ontologies, comprise descriptions of the classes, i.e. kinds of things, and the relationships between these things.

generates its own reusable data. It is involved in existing projects in the linked data application area, but also in the cooperative development of data models and data model further development.10 Furthermore, it seeks and offers a space for discussion on questions about applicability and the limits of such models. Every “How theatre is technological detranslated into the velopment should (digital) archive be questioned therefore depends and discussed in very much equally terms of its strucon the users of the ture and intensystems and models.” tion – so too should the technological implications that linked data-based models bring with them. Because what is said central idea of such linked data ontologies about performing arts events and their docuis that they can be shared and used along with mentation must be said in the model’s languatheir data, and that their applications are openly ge system, in which they are described. This means that such models can, firstly, come up described in order to give anyone access, not against limits of expressivity, i.e. they are not just to the data itself, but also to the language 9 capable of comprehensively representing the used for the description. This openness makes intention of the person creating the archive. But it possible to link archives from different institutions, thereby making the information they can also categorise things too n ­ arrowly coming from them visible so it can be shared and as a result leave too little space for interand used to complement other records. pretation for the person making the archive The Media Centre for Dance and Theatre and the person searching it. How theatre is at the ITI Germany, as a knowledge and memory ­t ranslated into the (digital) archive therefore institution, is working here on the intersection depends very much equally on the users of the between practical application and theoretical systems and models. As diverse as the possibilities of such reflection. It works in numerous projects both new, more flexible data models and modelling with freely available structured data, but also


7. An introduction to linked data can be found here: 8. A description of RDF can be found here, for example: 9. The models range from very simple forms like to highly complex models for the description of cultural heritage like the

are, so funda system the us the kn part o domai equal logica of the larly r archiv mutua areas crosso sectio profou tal tec the pe

tralisa dehier inform divers dict.11 system their p recogn then q one of their a mance betwe is cha of one metho the ch reflec persp and th and th

CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM).

10. Worth mentioning here are:

The founding years of the Tanzfabrik Berlin:

Meyerhold’s biomechanics and its reconstruction:

11. Jam

The digital festival archive of Theater der Welt:


Non-verbal theatre in the former Eastern part of Berlin 1970-1991:


s the ve nds lly the els.”

sed aid cuguais up not the ve. But wly erve s ore f the

ch ing

e the

are, so too do they require, on the one hand, a fundamental understanding of digital spheres, systems and the way they work on the part of the user, and on the other, an understanding of the knowledge and description domains on the part of the model’s developer. If the knowledge domains of the performing arts function on an equal level and in cooperation with the technological, information-scientific work processes of the modelling, in which artistic and scholarly reflective processes are studied alongside archiving and modelling processes for possible mutually transformative ways of working, both areas of work can significantly benefit in this crossover area of interdisciplinary and intersectional cooperation and thus enable a more profound critical questioning of the use of digital technologies, also in relation to archives of the performing arts. The possibilities resulting from a decentralisation of information inventories for the dehierarchisation of language, knowledge and information (for the performing arts too) are diverse, but on the other hand, hard to predict.11 Agency with regard to such new digital systems, however, will only result from testing their practical application, fundamentally recognising structures, categorising them and then questioning how they function. Herein lies one of the strengths of the performing arts and their accompanying Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies – in the relationship of tension between practice and theory in them, which is characterised by a permanent questioning of one’s own working techniques and research methods. They can react quickly and flexibly to the challenges resulting from the digital turn, reflect on and discuss these from different perspectives, negotiate newly created practices and thus link a wide range of ways of working and think about them together.

Christine Henniger manages the Mime Centrum Berlin Media Library for Dance and Theatre at the German Centre of the International Theatre Institute. As part of the Initiative für die Archive des Freien Theaters e.V., she is engaged in setting up a decentralised, digital archive of the performing arts and has co-published the study “Performing the Archive. Studie zur Entwicklung eines Archivs des Freien Theaters”. Maxim Wittenbecher coordinates the video and media studio at the International Theatre Institute in Berlin. Along with working on several ITI digitalisation projects in the area of cultural heritage – most recently “Nonverbal Theatre in former East Berlin” (2019) – he has developed the digital archive Theater der Welt. He is the coauthor of the Paam data model for cataloguing the contents of the archive for the performing arts.

11. James Bridle, for example, discusses “Handlungsmacht im Zeitalter der Dezentralisierung” (Agency in the Age of Decentralisation) and

questions about responsibility and empowerment in posthuman society. See Bridle, James: “Handlungsmacht im Zeitalter der

Dezentralisierung”; in: ARCH+ 236 (2019), pp. 24-31.


ved in ation ent velopspace bility




VICE-PRESIDENTS Martine Dennewald, Dr Bettina Sluzalek



Matthias Gehrt, Barbara Kastner, Jan Linders, Barbara Mundel, Holger Schultze, Tobias Veit, Jörg Vorhaben, Karen Witthuhn

Staff DIRECTOR Dr Thomas Engel








Michael Freundt

Michel Barre, Thekla Neuß, Jonas Pitz, Charlotte Warkentin


Lene Gaiser

Andrea Zagorski



Annette Doffin

PRESS Stefan Woll


Thanks to all INTERNS and FEDERAL VOLUNTEERS who have helped shape the work of the ITI over the past months: Lilian Chamai Bose, Laura Burkhardt, Elena Ferri, Teresa Fazan, Lene Gaiser, Hua Huang, Aylin Michel, Franziska Schüffler, Felix Sodemann


“What R

Kerstin Hefenbrock



Dorothea Lautenschläger



“Who Is

Jana Grünewald

“Arts un





Tel. + 49 (0)30 61 10 76 50 | Fax + 49 (0)30 611 07 65 22 |

MY 2020




o have hs: a Fazan, ffler,

PUBLISHED VOLUMES TO DATE “What Remains”, Yearbook 2013, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2013. “Festivals”, Yearbook 2014, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2014. “Understanding”, Yearbook 2015, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2015. “Who Is Europe”, Yearbook 2016, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2016. “Arts under Attack”, Yearbook 2017, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2017. "CO_LABORATION", Yearbook 2018, Zentrum Bundesrepublik Deutschland des Internationalen Theaterinstituts e. V. (ed.), Berlin: 2018.


Kunstquartier Bethanien Mariannenplatz 2 10997 Berlin


EDITORS Dr. Thomas Engel Dr. Yvonne Griesel

EDITORIAL WORK Dorothea Lautenschläger

SUPPORT Annette Doffin Franziska Schüffler


TR ANSCRIPTION Dr Yvonne Griesel Dorothea Lautenschläger Franziska Schüffler




Kate McNaughton Dr Anna Galt

Karen Witthuhn

DESIGN Jan Grygoriew / | Martin Eisenbeiß

T YPESET TING Martin Eisenbeiß

PRINT Spree Druck, Berlin



Title Page 4 Page 9 Page 1 Page 2 Page 2 Page 3 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 5 Page 6


Title Page 4 Page 9 Page 16 Page 22 Page 27 Page 32 Page 38 Page 45 Page 52 Page 58 Page 63

Luegen (Direction: Verena Regensburger), Münchner Kammerspiele, Photography: Franz Kimmel M (Direction: Eberhard Köhler), Teatr Pokoleniy, Photography: Victoria Atamanchuk Hamlet (Direction: Johan Simons), Schauspielhaus Bochum, Photography: JU Bochum Luegen (Direction: Verena Regensburger), Münchner Kammerspiele, Photography: Franz Kimmel Chroniques d’une révolution orpheline (Direction: Leyla-Claire Rabih), Grenier Neuf, Photography: Benoît Delgrande Paradies (Direction: Mina Salehpour ), Junges Schauspiel/Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus Photography: David Baltzer abgrund (Direction: Thomas Ostermeier), Schaubühne Berlin, Photography: Arno Declair By Heart (Direction: Tiago Rodrigues), Photography: Magda Bizarro Pratthana - A Portrait of Possession (Text: Uthis Haemamool, Direction: Toshiki Okada), Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Photography: Hajime Kato Theater der Welt 2014, Nationaltheater Mannheim Vi må snakke om Faust (Direction: Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson), Nationaltheatret Oslo, Photography: Daniel Angermayr Detail of a GraphDB visualization of Linked-Data Information on the 2017 edition of „Theater der Welt“, Project „Digital Archive Theater der Welt“





Yearbook 2019

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.