8th Festival 1998


»Vision Europa – dem Fremden eine Tür«

(»Vision Europe – an open door to the stranger«)

10 – 15 November 1998

(Preface to the printed programme – including conception of the festival)

To shake the pedestal

I. The less theatre is played, the more people get ill. Theatre's healing effect is well known since antiquity. In the famous Greek spa Epidauros – risen from what once was a place of worship to honour the god Aesculapius – the priests built a theatre into which up to 14 000 spectators per performance crowded themselves. In this presently best preserved Greek theatre anywhere the performing arts were considered, as one also did in the ancient Corinth, an obvious therapeutic measure. An educational excursion to Greece is highly recommended to all presently serving politicians …

II. Anno Domini1685 a boy was born in Eisenach, he never crossed Germany's borders yet his music has a truly people-synthesising character: he was Johann Sebastian Bach. He lived and worked in Leipzig from 1723 until his death in 1750. His music is often played and much admired but is it really loved? The reverence paid him seems much too unyielding, one must shake the pedestal to once again find Bach, the human being, aback the »divinity« since he has an amazing lot to tell us.

This year, taking the Fleming's Alain Platel new production as a starting point, euro-scene Leipzig puts the emphasis, aside from creative speech theatre performances, on Bach. With it, and for the first time, the festival acts as a co-producer and puts the City of Leipzig in the same league of such important partners as the EXPO 1998 in Lisbon and the Parisian Théâtre de la Ville.

Bach never composed for the stage, nonetheless he held great a attraction for choreographers everywhere. The Germans made heavy weather with it, in other countries the approach to his music was far less tense. Vaslav Nijinski, probably our century's most famous dancer, planed a choreography after Bach's piano music in 1913. That would have been history's first Bach ballet. Nijinski's notes however were the beginning of all scenic approaches to Bach.

III. euro-scene Leipzig does not see as its goal to achieve spectacular »events« and a window-dresserís aesthetic of limelight »shooting stars«. It attempts to track down real pearls of Europe's theatre and dance avant-garde. What counts are quality, a strong individual signature, aesthetical risk and wary eyes for contemporary events. There are moments in which a single human being on stage can say more than all histrionic though world-shaking affairs – and that is a goal well worth searching for.

Ann-Elisabeth Wolff
Festival Director