“The theatre event of the year” – What 2016 brought, what 2017 will bring
“It is considered the theatre event of the year.” This is how the Basellandschaftliche Zeitung summed up the triumphal march of the German-Swiss-Belgian play “Five Easy Pieces”, which has been celebrated by audiences and critics worldwide and has generated heated debate in response to various measures to censor it. “Breathtaking, analytically clear and horrible”, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “the undescribable happened”, stated Die Welt, the tv broadcaster RTBF called it “the most impressive, touching performance of the last ten or fifteen years,” the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant gave the production first place in its rankings, and the Belgian critics ‘ jury created a “special prize” so that they could make Milo Rau and the IIPM the first foreign recipient of the Belgian Theatre Critics’ Award. But “Five Easy Pieces” also encountered official opposition. Singapore restricted it to audiences 18 and older, Munich authorities censored a particular scene and in Frankfurt it was denied a permit to be staged at all.
Besides “Five Easy Pieces”, IIPM has brought out two further theatre plays, two audio plays and a book in the past year. The double-monologue “Compassion. The History of the Machine Gun” made its German premiere at Berlin’s Schaubühne theatre at the beginning of January. The successful production was nominated for the Friedrich-Luft-Preis and the magazine Theater Heute awarded leading actress Ursina Lardi second place in the best-actress category for 2016. In September, IIPM concluded “The Europe Trilogy” with “Empire” at the Zürcher Theater Sspektakel and the Schaubühne in Berlin, and simultaneously published the full trilogy in a single volume, which was selected as “Book of the Month” by the magazine Bühne. The “superb world premiere” at the Zürcher Theater Spektakel “moved the audience to standing ovations” (Tages-Anzeiger) and has since thrilled viewers at such venues as the co-producing festival steirischer herbst in Graz and the Théâtre Vidy in Lausanne. “Empire,” wrote the NZZ, is “the theatre of Euripides for our time.” Le Temps witnessed a “masterpiece” and the Stuttgarter Zeitung went so far as to say: “Theatre doesn’t get any greater.”
The year 2016 has surely been IIPM’s most successful one since the company was founded, with over 300 stagings of Milo Rau’s plays and films all over the world. Along with the IIPM team, we thank Prohelvetia for their support and the Berlin Schaubühne and CAMPO in Ghent for their tireless touring – “Compassion” alone was performed more than 60 times in the last season from Sweden to Crotia and Spain. In collaboration with the broadcaster WDR, “The Dark Ages” and “Compassion” were both made into audio plays in 2016, with the latter being nominated “Audio Play of the Month”. Rau’s “opus magnum” (ORF), “The Europe Trilogy”, is additionally being produced as a video installation for 2017 and will make its debut in March at the Schauspiel Freiburg in conjunction with the Ivo Kuyl-curated exhibition “Eurotopia”.
There were also a number of awards in 2016. Milo Rau, named the “most exciting artist in Europe” by the newspaper De Standaard on the occasion of the premiere of “Five Easy Pieces”, was chosen for the World Theatre Prize of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) for his work, becoming its youngest-ever recipient (following artists such as Frank Castorf and Pina Busch). He was also honoured with the Saarbrucken Poetry Lectureship for Drama, which he will assume in the coming year. From January 2017 he will join the regular panel of experts of Swiss Television’s “Literaturclub”. Rau, who received the Berner Literaturpreis in November 2016 for his literary work, is currently working on the manifesto “Die Rückeroberung der Zukunft” (Reconquest of the Future) for Rowohlt Verlag and the collected volume “The Congo Tribunal” (Rolf Bossart and Mirjam Knapp, editors) for Verbrecher Verlag.
The first publication of 2017, however, will be devoted to the two productions “Five Easy Pieces” and “The 120 Days of Sodom” – the play currently being developed with the disabled actors of the theatre HORA (world premiere 10 February 2017, Schauspielhaus Zürich). This monograph will bring together contributions by Kristof Blom, Dirk Pilz, Patrick Primavesi, Klaus Theweleit and Stefan Zweifel, among others (Stefan Bläske, editor). Along with touring, the rest of 2017 will largely be dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. After creating a new play with the ensemble of the Berlin Schaubühne around the Russian Revolution of 1917 (working title “1917”, world premiere October 2017), IIPM will stage a re-enactment of the Storming of the Winter Palace in November 2017 and will convene a World Parliament in Berlin (working title “General Assembly”). In the German capital, over 100 representatives from all over the world will form the first global parliament and draft a “Charta for the 21st Century”.
The first pilot project for this “art that operates on an equal footing with the globalised economy” (Milo Rau on the occasion of the ITI Prize) was no doubt “The Congo Tribunal”. After a preview tour through, among other places, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the film on the “megalomaniac project” (DIE ZEIT) will open in German and Swiss cinemas in autumn 2017, parallel to the World Parliament. It will be accompanied by a multimedia platform on the “most ambitious political theatre project ever staged” (The Guardian), in cooperation with the broadcasters ARTE, ZDF and Swiss Television, and the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
We thank all of our partners and friends for their support and their critical interest over the past year and look forward to an eventful and successful 2017.