The season 2019/20 at Münchner Kammerspiele


One thing that no one can accuse us of over these past five years is laziness. At the end of the 2019/2020 season, this will be clear once again:

When we launch a 24-hour performance of Roberto Bolaño’s novel “2666”. Board a bus at noon on Saturday and join the other audience members, actors and technicians for the next 24 hours. Perhaps together you will gain a fresh perspective of your city at different venues? The tour starts on Munich’s Olympiaberg. If you look at these grounds, you immediately realise what has been lost. When Hans-Jochen Vogel planned the Olympic Games in 1972, the emphasis was on greater democracy, a transparent society and a hospitable city. Munich’s structure has since changed from a village to a modern metropolis, and in the process, it has forcibly taken on a new dimension.

Bolaño’s exuberant novel begins with a small circle of German scholars searching for an ominous writer named Benno Archimboldi. Along an elaborate, unfurling maze of muddled storylines in the tradition of a Jorge Luis Borges, the plot arrives at a series of unsolved murders of women in the border region between Mexico and the USA – which is still ongoing today. Munich is not Ciudad Juárez, of course, the real scene of these terrible crimes. But to take differences as a starting point for new ideas is challenging. “Olympia 2666” will be performed in many unusual locations in the city. Perhaps you will find yourself in the university library at 4 a.m. or at BMW’s development centre for driverless cars at dawn?

The project resonates with the main topics we have explored over the past few seasons: turning theatre into a special experience and bringing something to Munich that the city itself lacks. We also touch on post-colonial issues, part of Germany’s past that it is only now learning about. In our confrontation with fascism, our involvement in colonialism has receded into the background. Suddenly we have to acknowledge that the division of Africa took place during the Berlin Congo Conference, which was held in 1884/85 under the direction of Bismarck. Together with the Goethe-Institut, we are planning a focus on Postcolonialism in early 2020. The work of Anta Helena Recke corresponds with this line of thought. At the beginning of the season, she presents a work that deals with Freud’s insights into the “insults to humanity”. The first is the Copernican turn, the second is Darwin’s theory of evolution (that man descended from apes), and the third is the discovery of the subconscious. To these “insults”, which were identified by Freud, Recke adds a fourth: there is not only one (white, heterosexual, male) mankind. Almost concurrently, Stefan Pucher will stage “King Lear”. The play can be read as a parable of the current emancipatory movements in our societies. Old, white men have to surrender their power to younger generations and diverse structures.

Marlene Monteiro Freitas is one of Europe’s leading choreographers. We have shown two of her works at the Kammerspiele to date. After the orgiastic debauchery in “Of Ivory and Flesh” and “Bacantes”, she now turns to a less joyful subject: evil. What immediately springs to mind, of course, is Georges Bataille or, in the German philosophical tradition, Goethe’s “Faust”, or perhaps Genet. Her approach to the subject will certainly be a postcolonial one, too. Freitas’ works are often influenced by the tradition of carnival on the Cape Verde Islands where Freitas grew up before she went to Lisbon. Her dance pieces are carried by rhythmic, repetitive images and a very unique choreographic language. They are great aesthetic spectacles. It was a case of love at first sight between our ensemble and Freitas. I am very happy that the Münchner Kammerspiele is producing and showing the premiere of “Le Mal”.

I am equally pleased that René Pollesch will once again be directing a production at the Kammerspiele. As a director, he operates a radical form of philosophical writing. With the title “Passing – It’s so easy, was schwer zu machen ist”, Pollesch takes on a challenge from the Open Border Ensemble. It will be interesting to see what form he finds for its predominantly Arabic-speaking protagonists.

In the 2019/20 season we will continue with “Dionysos Stadt”. This production has been a great experience for me personally. It runs against common sense to take on such a huge project at a theatre that struggles with audience numbers. For each of its performances, there are eight actors and seventy-two other employees working for you! And for logistical reasons, it is not possible to show a regular production the day before. If the play had not been a success, I might have jumped off Wittelsbacher Bridge. But as it was, things turned out quite differently. It was invited to the Theatertreffen in Berlin and changed the attitudes of Munich residents towards our theatre. For that, I would like to thank you and everyone concerned.

I am similarly delighted with “Farm Fatale” by Philippe Quesne. His work “Caspar Western Friedrich” was a step that many audience members were not ready to take in our first season. Now Quesne has achieved something like a Beckettian comment on climate change – in a very enjoyable form. Even on the night of the premiere itself, the play was invited to guest perform in Santiago de Chile, São Paulo and Novosibirsk. The story is simple: five scarecrows discover that birds and bees have all disappeared: and so they are unemployed.

Nature has always played a major role in Philippe Quesne’s works. He also initiated the idea of photographing the ensemble outside in the snow for this season’s magazine. We usually see actors on stages. What happens when they experience the last days of winter in front of the camera? Freed from the compulsion to produce something of aesthetic significance, they indulged in a snowball fight or tucked into a plate of Kaiserschmarrn. It is here that Quesne’s signature reveals itself, a reduction in identity in an almost romanticised world. When I look at these photographs, I am happy and proud of the community that we have become.

When this season is over, one in which we have set ourselves further goals, we will need a break from each other. I will be in Beirut putting together an edition of the Homeworks Festival. The last few years in Bavaria have often been more demanding than revitalising. But I’m looking forward to going to town with you again in the forthcoming season!

Best wishes
Matthias Lilienthal