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Ballet of Difference
BRIEFE VON INTERNATIONALEN KÜNSTLER*INNEN ÜBER DIE AKTUELLE KRISE UND IHR KREATIVES POTENZIAL
Die Brieffreundschaft erlebt derzeit ihr großes Revival. Sie gehört zu den Veränderungen, die auch über die Corona-Pandemie hinaus positive Auswirkungen haben könnten. Wie viel Raum für Neues birgt die Krise für die Kunst, macht Not erfinderisch? Wir laden Künstler*innen aus aller Welt ein, ihre Eindrücke, Erfahrungen und Erlebnisse in dieser besonderen Situation mit uns zu teilen. Mit CONT/ACT entsteht ein virtueller Briefkasten, der perspektivisch ein Netzwerk bildet, das über die nationalen und geographischen Grenzen hinaus einen Platz für Begegnung, Diskussion und Solidarität schafft. Einen Blick nach vorne wagt. Wie hat sich der Alltag der Künstler*innen verändert? Lassen sich Projekte einfach digital adaptieren? Wie fängt die Politik diese Bedürfnisse auf? Und gibt es sogar ein utopisches Potenzial, das die Kunst für sich nutzen kann?
The correspondence between pen friends is currently experiencing its big revival. It is one of the changes that could have positive effects even beyond the Corona pandemic. How much room for renewals does the crisis hold for art, is necessity the mother of invention? We invite artists from all over the world to share their impressions, experiences and stories of this special situation. A virtual mailbox is set up, in an effort to form a network that creates a place for encounters, discussions and solidarity beyond national and geographical borders. To take a look ahead. How has the everyday life of these artists changed? Can projects be easily adapted digitally? How do politics respond to their needs? And might there even be a utopian potential that art can use for itself?
Maya Arad Yasur
Maya Arad Yasur is a playwright and dramaturge. Born in 1976 in Israel, she studied dramaturgy in Amsterdam. Arad Yasur has been working as a production dramaturge in the Netherlands and in Israel, specializing in devised theatre and documentary theatre. Her plays deal with issues of identity, exile and war and are staged in Israel, England, France, Germany, Austria, Norway and the U.S. The most known are SUSPENDED and AMSTERDAM. Her latest play
was staged at the Schauspiel Köln in February 2020.
Read Maya's letter
»Born and raised on Long Island NY, I’m a professional bartender with a background in photography, graphic design and horticulture. I’m the eldest son of two Salvadoran immigrants who fled the civil war in the 80s. Currently working toward my dream of opening a cocktail bar on Long Island. I love science and strongly dislike Adirondack chairs.«
Read Jonathan's letter
Paula Roy is an actress based in Madrid. Born in Barcelona, she graduated with a BA in Acting at the Institute Of The Arts Barcelona (2018). Since then, she has been working in different projects in Spain, film and theatre.
Read Paula's Letter
David Gaitán ist Schauspieler, Autor und Regisseur aus Mexiko. Sein Schauspielstudium schloss er an der Escuela Nacional de Arte Teatral del INBA in Mexiko-Stadt ab. Später gründete er die Ensembles Teatro Legeste und Ocho Metros Cúbicos, AC und schrieb bislang 20 Theaterstücke. Seine Arbeiten wurden auf vielen internationalen Theaterfestivals gezeigt: u. a. Heidelberger Stückemarkt, Mülheimer Theatertage, Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires, Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá. In den vergangenen Jahren war David Gaitán ebenfalls als Lehrer an den führenden Theaterschulen Mexikos tätig.
Lesen Sie Davids Brief
Maya Arad Yasurs Letter
I GUESS YOU HAVE TO BE THERE – THEATER AFTER CORONA VIRUS
I have two toddlers running around me while writing this text. It's the end of their third week at home, since the lockdown in Israel has begun. Yesterday I decided that my "no screens policy, only on weekends", a policy which I maintain in routine days, will no longer be effective during lockdown. And so I decided to let them watch two episodes a day of the old TV series for kids made in 1978 "Once Upon a Time…Man" (Es war einmal) which unfolds the history of Mankind from the big bang until the end of the 20th century, a series I used to watch when I was a child in the 1980's. While binge-watching the whole story of humanity; a story full of wars, epidemics and natural disasters but also prosperity, comfort and unbelievable accomplishments, unfolding episode after episode one realizes that this is not the first nor the last crisis and that the versatile and adaptable survive. But adapt to what? What will the day after look like? Is the human specious going to become more communal after weeks or months of isolation or rather more isolative and anxious of viruses? Are we going to realize that solidarity is our only way to survive or are we going to conclude that isolation (social? National? Racial?) is the safest way of living and actually not too bad of an option? Are most of the people going to be fed up by digital communication and yearn to socialize or rather start to realize that the digital is actually enough for them? For the future of theatre these are crucial questions. Isolation, social distancing, digitalized art consumption, are all consequences that can put an end to theatre as we know it. We cannot predict nor can we control what's coming. In my pessimistic days I think that theatre will never recover or it will take a decade before people will be willingly sitting shoulder to shoulder in a closed space, getting annoyed rather than hysterical by someone coughing. In better days I think that the opposite it the truth: that finally people will realize that gathering to watch something together is an essential experience for our well being as individuals and as a society. Coronavirus showed that we are able (even if we don't like it) to survive with minimal physical interaction, without socializing, without gathering. It is the golden hour of the digital and the virtual. Theatre was the first to shut down and I'm afraid it will be the last to recover. There is no theatre without social gathering, the corporeal presence of actors and audience is the essence the condition to the theatrical experience. But has it really been the case so far in most of theatre which we make and see? Is most of the theatre we see really based on principles of co-presence? If so, how come theatres are rushing to live-stream now all their archived performances? If it can be streamed and perceived on a screen, what makes it theatre to begin with? If you can enjoy it without actually being there what makes it theatre?
Theatres worldwide have been struggling to attract audiences in the last years, especially younger ones, now the Coronavirus faces it with the fatal question which should have been asked anyway: what makes theatre essential in times of Netflix, internet and digital interactive narratives? We must take this opportunity which was forced on us and face the fact that theatre was the first to be considered non-essential. We must spend this time, not proving the world that it is indeed not essential by live-streaming it, but rather spend this time in a pervasive searching and drilling brainstorming of how we can make our art undoubtedly essential with all its glorious bodily presence. Emphasizing the necessity of corporeal presence and the materiality of theatre must be an aesthetic strategy. We can only justify our art if we make theatre that is based on those principles; forms that no other art can imitate and no digital streaming can replace. Independent theatre companies worldwide have long been doing that but the repertory theatres, even in Germany, is still much based on an experience of spectatorship only, such which can be watched on a screen. The rush to stream all these performances show that. Quite a few examples for such experiences can be found in the most instituted theatres as well: the use of closed circuit video which Ivo van Hove did in his Opening Night, or the restaurant he build on stage in Network, the reconstruction of the original setting of Drums in the Night in the actual theatre of the world premiere which I saw on the 2018 Theatertreffen was for me an unstreamable experience because of the site-specificity of it. Improvisation and audience participation such as in The London Royal National Theatre's production One Man, Two Guvnors is an example for a presence-based experience which is not experimental or marginal*. I purposely choose examples which were proven popular and not necessarily on the account of its quality, to show that these principles do not contradict art not commerciality, the only thing I want to stress here is the use of the medium in a way which distinguishes it from any other medium; emphasizing the nature of theatre as a live event.
It is our role to tell society when this crisis is over: you must gather, you must get together, you must eliminate social distancing and you must physically be together and share space and time. We must prove that it is necessary and not only for the sake of theatre but for the sake of solidarity and socializing – the things that make us human. This can be theatre's contribution to the world, demonstrating why bodily co-presence is necessary. We should take it as a guideline: A performance which can be streamed - is not enough theatre. "I guess you had to be there" must be our motto.
*I'm sure there are many more examples from the German theatre.
Jonathan Gonzalez' Letter
Perspective from NY
Today I woke up not realizing the date, I wandered through my home looking at the same walls, the same news broadcast and the same sad pale face.
It's Saturday, I had to look it up.
The thing with isolation is that you think you can handle it, as an introvert, you think. "sure, this will be a breeze. I don't like going outside anyway". As day fades into evening and into early morning things start to blend into strange moments of confusion. You ask yourself,
"Did I shower today? or was that two days ago?"
"Wasn't I supposed to call someone?"
"How many times did I masturbate today?"
You start to realize how we all need some form of routine. Any time we get our schedule pulled away from us the cards holding up the castle come tumbling down. This is where I am now. Somewhere between the unemployment website and porn. The most powerful government in the world is having trouble with the website traffic meanwhile popular porn sites have engaged into a new strategy: Stay Home, Watch Porn, Stay Safe. How wild is that? Seriously, this is the reality I live in, the porn market is more equipped to handle its users than social services do.
This can also be my cynicism finally making its ugly return.
For the last few days I have been avoiding all negative thoughts. I tend to be more aligned with the depressing side of things. Frankly, it doesn't help that I also quit taking antidepressants as well. Hell of a time for something so reckless. Now everything is heightened; anxiety, sense of loneliness, angst, anger, sadness, and that cold feeling licking at your spine hinting at the moment it will crumble and bring you into the deepest damned heart of total fucking misery. So far that hasn't happened, but with everything going on, the lockdowns the lack of social interation, the lack or routine, its fuck with your head.
Sure I can spend all day watching porn and masturbating and texting my exes for some glimmer of attention but slowly that is also losing is lustful luster.
Today is Saturday, normally I would be headed to work about now. I would have gone into the bathroom, jerked off, jumped into the shower, bathed and got myself spruced up for a long night of drinks, flirting and pretending to be much more charming that I really am. I would shake cocktails and look for those guests who need that extra sense of attention. You can call it professional flirting, flirting at a distance. Harmless and innocent enough that nothing happens after the tab is closed and everyone has left. That was my Saturday night earlier this month, instead I have spent more time online that I typically do. Same sites, same faces, hit refresh and hope something new is happening. Spoiler alert, nothing new has happened.
As a bartender you usually have a reasonably stocked home bar, and my inventory is reasonable. There is the temptation to join a lot of my online friends in just drinking all this away, but I know myself and there is a big chance that I will emerge from this with a new terrible habit. Drinking feels like the right response but, I've been avoiding that. Also who the fuck wants to be hungover during a national emergency?
Today is still Saturday and this is my new normal, for now.
I don't think I ate breakfast today, but I could be wrong. I am aware that in the last few days I have made all the intentions of learning something new and being productive and in some respects I have, but the motivation is diminished, the air around me is heavy and stale with tedium.
You probably want to know what I feel, because up until this point I have only been expressing what I have been doing, and the truth is, I'm not sure what to feel. In one instance I feel slightly zen about the whole thing, there isn't much I can do, so I shouldn't trouble myself with worry. Then in another instance I feel overwhelming fear that all my goals have been pushed the side or altogether discarded because the economy is going to fall into another recession.
Why should I care? Why should I give a damn? There comes the anger, this isn't my fault and it's not fair. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
So I hide, I hide under heavy over ear headphones and put on music and allow myself to live in the emotions inside the songs. Song is over. Hit Repeat. Hit Repeat. Hit Repeat. My life is in the middle of the tempo of the universe.
The calendar on my phone tells me it's still saturday. At least right now I know I'm in the present. As much as I want to say time is relative, right now it just feels more important to remain in the present. At least for now.
Paula Roys's letter
DAY 40 OF CONFINEMENT
Being an artist and making a living from it is hard. We all know. We knew it before we started dedicating our lives to it. But we try, and we try with all our heart and passion. I have been absolutely astonished by the reaction artists have given to this crisis. In Spain, once the number of COVID cases started to be alarming, all cultural events and venues closed down, artistic contracts were cancelled or postponed, and people found themselves without any sort of income for an unknown period of time.
To give a brief overview of how Spain is living this situation, I’d like to begin by talking about how late the serious measures were applied to stop the virus spreading. Before it all started, many people did not believe how scary everything was going to be, how many deaths we would have to face, how many families were going to be affected by losing relatives from one day to another, and how painful it would be not being allowed to say goodbye to them. Well, yes, strict measures were now applied in our country, we are under a state of alarm since the 14th of March, but before that day, we already had 5.753 cases and 136 deaths.
Currently, no one is allowed to leave the house unless they go groceries shopping (we have to do that separately), bring medicines, food or primary necessity products to the elderly or ill patients. Or unless they have a primary necessity job they have to go to, or returning from these jobs (proving why they haven’t been able to return earlier). It is also allowed to visit financial and insurance institutions, or leave the house because of force majeure/situation of need. If you set against the confinement, you have to face fines from 601 euros up to 10.400 euros. The government has extended the state of alarm three times, and now they are able to give us an approximate plan of what the next months will be like.
Coming back to how it has affected the artistic industry, it’s important to talk about the governmental specific financial aids to arts and culture. At first, the government declared that there were NOT going to be any specific aids for us, and our response was a 48 hours cultural blackout from all social media. It was called off on the 11th of March after the Ministry of Finance promised to listen to all the proposals from the Artist Unions, and give a response to them.
One of the main reasons that brought us to defend the 48h blackout, was also the huge effort that all artists had been making since day one of the confinement. And that despite the huge losses we had in many productions. Instead of getting fixated with the idea of what would happen us, having no way of earning money and being imposed – for the good of the country – to stay at home during 24h, we all stood up, connected, and started to find ways to entertain, calm, and lift the spirits of the people around us. Musicians and singers started to give concerts on their balconies, actors and actresses started to perform online, using social media as a way to get to everyone, Casting Directors started offering free one-to-one sessions, Q&A, and sharing texts to inspire actors to continue exercising their performing abilities.
On another note, and being a bit more specific about how I personally have lived these first 40 days of confinement, I would have to start by saying that it truly has been a roller coaster of emotions. I consider myself to be a quite social person, and I used to spend most of my day outside my house, working, meeting friends, assisting cultural event, and usually, If I had nothing going on, a bit of anxiety would kick in, and my way of coping with it was walking around the city, without any specific purpose other than to observe and calm my mind. The first week was the toughest, I found myself encaged, and having to find other ways to stay active, motivated and ready for what was to come. I tried to be very creative, to write lists of things to do, projects to film, and as most of the people I know, who were sharing this feeling: We all became a bit obsessed with being productive. That didn’t work out very well, the more I wanted to be productive, the lesser my energy wanted to be active. I had to find another way, so I took it day by day. Started by writing a timetable every morning, with very specific activities and actions that I wanted to accomplish that day. And that has kept me going until today. Luckily, I am not alone. I share an apartment with two other actresses, and we have worked together very much trying to stay healthy and supporting each other.
I have the hope that this situation is going to change soon, and our society is going to become a better one. Since the 14thof March, with the declaration of the state of alarm, every night at 8pm I experience one of the most beautiful and gratifying moments of the day, which is meeting all my balcony neighbours and clapping for all the primary necessity workers that are risking their lives every day, to save lives, to provide us with food and products. That keeps this country going.
David Gaitáns Brief
Covid-19 und das Theater Mexikos
Die Künstler eines mexikanischen Ensembles rufen die Schulen an, an denen sie unterrichten. Sie erklären, dass ihr Theaterprojekt in Deutschland abgesagt wurde – sollte sich eine Lücke ergeben, wären sie nun wieder verfügbar.
Oma Amapola hustet mehr als sonst. Sie glaubt nicht an das Corona-Virus. Sie scheint nicht einmal an den Tod zu glauben.
Eine Krankenschwester überschminkt die Spuren eines Schlags in ihrem Gesicht. Sie verwahrt ihren Schwesternkittel in einer Plastiktüte; ihr fällt auf, dass er ein wenig durchscheint. In einem öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel in Mexiko mustern ein paar Leute erstaunt die geschminkte Frau, die misstrauisch ihre Plastiktüte umklammert. Einige tragen einen Mundschutz. Es ist unmöglich, ausreichend Abstand zu halten.
Ein Patient liegt im Sterben, seit ein paar Tagen wird er beatmet. Ein zweiter mit besserer Prognose wartet auf dem Krankenhausflur, bis er an der Reihe ist. Der Pfleger wartet, dass die diensthabende Ärztin ihm sagt, was er tun soll.
Ein schizophrener Penner steht mitten auf einem breiten Boulevard. Meine Theorie stimmt doch, denkt er: Die Stadt gehört mir. Mir.
Ein Millionär sieht sich die Umsatzgrafiken seiner Geschäfte des letzten Monats an. Nur in einem Fall sind die Einnahmen nicht gesunken: seinem Fernsehsender. Er schwitzt. Er weiß, dass sein zweiter Platz auf der Liste der reichsten Männer Mexikos gerade ins Wanken gerät. Sieht sich das Foto seiner Familie an. Atmet tief durch und ruft die Abendnachrichten an: „Macht publik, dass die Regierung lügt. Draußen ist es sicher.“
Ein Schimpanse lässt auf einer Dachterrasse einen Papierdrachen steigen.
Oma Amapola ruft einen Krankenwagen.
Ein paar arbeitslose Jugendliche in einer WG versuchen, die Utopie zu leben: Sie teilen sich die Hausarbeit, lesen, was ansteht, schauen dem Regen zu, schreiben Tagebuch.
Von ihrem Bad aus ruft eine Frau ihre Arbeitgeberin an. Sie bittet sie, wieder arbeiten zu dürfen. Das Risiko einer Ansteckung ist ihr lieber als das Risiko so vieler Stunden neben der Wut ihres Mannes.
Eine Frau verlässt im Morgengrauen ihr Haus. Sie geht zur Hauptstraße. Mit einer Sprühdose schreibt sie folgende Botschaft:
W I R K Ö N N E N A U F H Ö R E N , Z U P R O D U Z I E R E N.
Oma Amapola ist mitten in einem Science-Fiction-Film. Sie hätte sich viele Todesarten vorstellen können, aber niemals diese: umgeben von Astronauten.
Die Theaterhochschule meldet sich bei einem der Künstler, der sich nach der Absage seines Projekts in Deutschland beworben hatte. Du bist wieder an Bord. Wirst Schauspiel unterrichten. Über den Bildschirm. Über den Bildschirm. Über den Bildschirm.
Gestern hatte Trump eine Eingebung. Heute läuft ein Mann von Apotheke zu Apotheke, um das Medikament seiner Schwester zu besorgen. Sie hat Lupus.
Ein Dokument trägt die Unterschriften hunderter Künstler. Offenbar fällt der Kulturhaushalt der Wirtschaftskrise als Erstes zum Opfer. Der Beamte überfliegt es und schiebt das Ärgernis beiseite; er drückt die Space-Taste und sieht sich weiter das Theaterstück an.
Eine Schauspielerin postet auf Instagram die Origami-Figur, die sie aus ihrem Terminplaner für 2020 gefaltet hat.
Ein erfahrener Arzt verteilt unter seinem Personal Spritzen, die nicht aus dem Bestand stammen und unbeschriftete Ampullen. Alle wissen, dass es Pentobarbital ist.
In China erreichen die Scheidungszahlen nach der Quarantäne einen Rekordwert.
Ein Lehrer teilt per Zoom eine Video, in dem Trump dazu rät, gegen das Virus Desinfektionsmittel zu spritzen. Noch Fragen zu dieser grotesken Komödie?
Ein Angestellter hängt ein Schild auf: Keine Betten mehr für COVID-19-Patienten.
Ein junges Mädchen erkundet die Welt durch ihr Fernglas. Als sie den Horizont absucht, fällt ihr Blick auf ein Schild: Freitag, 18 Uhr, Dachterrassentheater.
Eine psychiatrische Klinik fordert in einem Brief mehr Personal an.
Ein Künstler entwickelt eine Performance über Leerlaufzeiten in digitalen Konversationen.
Oma Amapola sieht ihre Familie in kleinen Kästchen im Handy ihrer Krankenschwester.
Ein pflichtbewusster Pfarrer stellt sich den unendlichen Abgründen des Internets.
Eine Schauspieldozentin twittert: Lassen wir die Wortklauberei, ob das, was die Leute in den sozialen Netzwerken machen, nun Theater ist oder nicht. Darum geht es nicht. Sondern: Es ist ergreifend, zu sehen, wie sich die künstlerische Community in den öffentlichen Foren abmüht, die gesellschaftliche Aufgabe dieses Berufs zu erfüllen. Lassen wir die Zukunft dafür einen Namen finden.
Ein einheimischer Fischer versteht nicht ganz: Bietet man ihm wirklich ein paar Cent für jedes Barrel Öl, das er mitnimmt?
Es gibt jetzt eine App, die Novenengebete aus der Ferne anleitet.
Aufruf zum Fenster-Applaus für das medizinische Personal um 18:30 Uhr.
Millionen Menschen denken gleichzeitig das Gleiche.
Der gesunde Enkel holt die Urne mit Oma Amapolas Asche ab.
Vier Wände begrenzen einen Wald, der mit jedem Tag dichter wird.
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