Dear audience,

The contrast to the last SPIELART edition could hardly be greater. Whereas in 2021, the containment of the pandemic still dominated, now everything is more in motion than ever. Munich Airport achieved record numbers last summer - and immediately collapsed under the rush. A “suitcase chaos” broke out and had to be hastily cleared up by temporary staff flown in especially for the occasion. The hectic search for (skilled) workers has not stopped since then: German politicians go on a worldwide poaching spree in their desired countries, ostensibly in the interest of both sides. In other words, a continuation of the extractive brain drain of poorer countries in service to the motherland. Never since the beginning of the census have so many people been as displaced as at this moment, more than 108 million according to the UNHCR. 1,166 died in the Mediterranean Sea in the first half of 2023 alone while trying to reach Fortress Europe – always in obscene proximity to holidaymakers. However, seeking refuge can lead to a condemnation to inactivity, where refugees are kept in economically and culturally unproductive camps along their way to the new homeland of Germany, waiting there for residence or work papers. From the perspective of a disabled person, Chiara Bersani contributes another aspect: “I have been a disabled child, often immobilised. I was left in one place for a long time, so I memorized that location inch by inch and knew perfectly the spots where to rest or find peace and relief. ” How are containment, forced or desired mobility connected?

In a variety of ways, artists at the festival make this reality the starting point of their work. With photobook and sound file, Dmytro Levytskyi reports on the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine based on a specific street in Kiev. Pankaj Tiwari questions the privileges of flying, Thomas Bellinck and Said Reza Adib the practice of fingerprinting.

In view of the renewed tensions between the U.S. and China in the Pacific region, the artistic and discursive program WHEN MEMORIES MEET explores the figure of thought of the "Cold War" and its effects on the countries of East/Southeast and South Asia. Local conflicts at the time were seen in light of the struggle between the USA and the Soviet Union. This led to narratives in which individual countries became almost invisible in the shaping of their own history. This is accompanied by the question of how historical events are remembered differently in different parts of the world and why? ‘In bringing artistic practices in the East, Southeast, and South Asian countries to focus at SPIELART Theatre Festival, WHEN MEMORIES MEET intends to provide opportunities for dialogues that reexamine these legacies across contexts. Recalibrating our perspective to social procedures and memory work outside of Europe this way, the programme aims to initiate encounters and exchanges at SPIELART that challenge the idea of a fixed identity and absolute separate histories in order to stimulate different imaginations of the world we live in.’ (Betty Yi-Chun Chen)

Familiar to SPIELART audiences by now is the Viennese collective God's Entertainment, which is planning a major project for the city: During the entire festival period, the inflatable GGGNHM – guggenheim in munich?, a replica of the legendary New York museum, will be open on Max-Joseph-Platz. The DEUTSCHKURS oder GOETHE IN 15 TAGEN (GERMAN CLASS or GOETHE IN 15 DAYS) as well as an interdisciplinary programme developed together with numerous Munich groups deal with language as a power factor, law(s)writing (the spelling-out of laws and the laws of spelling) and (dis)integration.

NOTHING TO DECLARE on the last festival weekend in the Kreativquartier on Dachauerstraße is a ‘testing ground’ where international and local artists meet. For three days, artists will transform the site into a seedbed where first-time theatre makers, visual and performance artists will display the outcome of their research, either as first steps, brief reflection pauses, or a potential final destination. ‘That the future is always in doubt is not reason enough not to face towards it and offer our best ideas at the time, in the hope they'll make it better. Our high propensity for failure is counter-balanced by the small modicum of rare insight as a comfort.’ (Boyzie Cekwana)

This year’s festival programme thus deals not only with our current crises, but also and above all with possible strategies for overcoming them - via the head, the body, the encounter. Julian Warner calls for class struggle with wrestlers; the Congolese-Swiss GROUP50:50 actively campaigns for the restitution of human skeletons with their brilliant music theater in order to heal the wounds of colonialism; Igor Shugaleev and Gosia Wdowik deal with the question of how to bring together one's own individual life and the political struggle. There are new love songs, puppet (play), posthuman and Afrofuturist thought. With Maria Metsalu or Teresa Vittucci SPIELART shows ‘fierce makers who are there to remind us that performative practice is more than just storytelling, it does not fit into easy definitions, and sometimes just seeks magic, a certain vibration, an intense presence that strikes you with awe for this world and all the wilderness inside of ourselves. ‘ (Eva Neklyaeva)

For a brief moment, and in the midst of multiple societal challenges, SPIELART aspires to be a place of encounter, with numerous events offering free admission and in the urban space, discourse and conversations, parties, the festival center as well as the Armenian-German "Bisetka" in the Kreativquartier.

We look forward to seeing you!

Sophie Becker

Artistic Director and Festival Director on behalf of the SPIELART Team