Press Release: Transmedia Theater Project B61-12
September 22, 2017
The change of artistic directorship at the Volkbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is about more than the question of appropriate leadership for some theater.
This theater is a symbol of urban development.
If we want to reject the liquidation of a space of resistance, then we need to ask:
To whom does the city belong? What conditions do we want to work, live and act in? How can we defend our vision of a city in which all people flourish peacefully in equitable living conditions?
Berlin once offered a unique, historically-conditioned situation: for decades there was an abundance of cheap or free spaces in the city center. Our city became a place of hope and desire — attractive and livable for freedom-loving and creative people from across the globe. Everything seemed possible. Due in part to a lack of industry, the cultural sector became a cornerstone of the economy.
In the ‘90s, Berlin was a place of peaceful anarchy, but that didn’t lessen our quality of life. On the contrary, it was the condition that allowed cultural diversity to flourish.
But this potential crumbled because political policies failed to preserve the abundance of space. Instead, our city was offered up as loot amidst an unchecked drive for profits. Today, Berlin stands before a path that many other European metropolises have already trodden: a path of displacement, a path of exclusion, a path through the destruction of any sense of community.
Exorbitant rent and uncertain labor relations are leading to existential fear, an inability to act, resignation, and isolation. We must break out of this state of shock together.
With this collective, transmedia and mimetic theater project, we are occupying the Volksbühne and declaring it the property of all people. We’ve opened the doors, and we’re making it available for general use.
We appeal to everyone who feels they’ve been robbed of a self-determined future by the pressures of a career. We appeal to those who want to risk stepping out of the hamster wheel to create out of a wealth of alternatives.
We are part of the tradition of workers who, more than 100 years ago, independently financed, built, and ran this theater on their own groschen.
We warmly invite you to recognize and use this special building on Rosa-Luxemberg-Platz as a great stage for the renegotiation of urban development policy, for artistic creation, and for formative interventions.
It’s about reclaiming public space in a decade of privatization and commercialization. All participants are to have equitable claims to financial resources for the realization of short- and long-term projects. We subscribe to the principle: equal pay for equal work.
Dust to Glitter, signing off.
For over 9 months, a core of approximately 40 people, with an ancillary group of up to 110 people, have actively worked on this operation. An artist studio served as office and control room. Large gatherings were held in spaces made available by various institutions sympathetic to our cause. Today, our collective and the operation Dust to Glitter take our leave. Dust to Glitter is history. As of this moment, a new collective has been constituted in the context of this transmedia mimetic theater project. And with this, we extend a warm invitation for you to participate.
We would especially like to welcome the former artistic staff of the Castorf era to engage with this grand staging in diverse ways. At least 50% of the members of all potential committees will be women. No exceptions. Positions will remain unfilled until the quota is reached. The Volksbühne Collective is feminist, anti-racist, and queer, and will promptly develop appropriate tools to prevent age-based discrimination and to guarantee accessibility.
The Carstof Era
We call all former directors to integrate their repertoire pieces, where possible, into the future program. We would like to express our gratitude for the refusal to continue the repertoire program under the auspices of a frivolously installed artistic director. We hereby explicitly request the employment of the former artistic staff within the new structures—whether in a sporadic, temporary or long-term capacity.
Our staging is the transmedial, mimetic and consistent continuation of the past decades of productions in the Volksbühne Ost. It’s about a committed dialectical Theater 2.0.
The entire current house staff will, in conversation with the former leadership, be fully integrated into the new hierarchy-free structure. No one should be exposed to existential fear as a result of our movement.
In addition to the program of a fixed ensemble, the various stages should be available to an increased number of theater initiatives and collectives from the Berlin community—from East, West, North and South.
The name Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz was, is, and will be preserved; it stands for the political orientation of every production in and around this building. This theater will be a place for negotiations and discussions of urban development, particularly as it relates to systems of global development.
This theater stands for a possible world—free of nationalism, free of military threat, free of exploitation and slavery, free of racism and gender injustice.
The Volksbühne Ost on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz stood and stands for a potential society without classes, in which all people can peacefully coexist in equitable living conditions.
The Volksbühne stands for solidarity, communal production, and the advancement of free, creative work.
Dedicated to using space responsibly
We are aware of the significance of this historically protected building. We will assiduously preserve and protect it and have already taken comprehensive precautionary measures to ensure no damage will occur under the collective artistic directorship.
Over the coming days, weeks and months we will comply with noise, fire and safety regulations. To this end we have organized and trained committees to oversee necessary tasks. This includes a professional awareness team, well-versed stage technicians familiar with this space, and an experienced security team, all founded on. We’ve taken ample precautionary measures to ensure order and sanitary conditions.
No nail will be pounded into the wrong place, no paint will be smeared on walls, no wood will be scratched. Vandalism will not be tolerated. Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. We are equipped with sufficient technology and therefore will not use or endanger the in-house technology.
As a peaceful demonstration of collective strength, we will use the building’s center, the main stage, for the artistic staging of a true-to-original reconstruction of the modern atom bomb type “B61-12”.
The Volksbühne as center of an urban movement
The Volksbühne is the new center of anti-gentrification. People who stand under the threat of displacement, or have already been displaced, will find here an informed community that will support their resistance. We reject all forms of violence and militance.
The Volksbühne is a peaceful place for discussion and a peaceful place for arguments, a place for dissensus and congress.
On the homepage of our theatrical staging B 61-12, you’ll find a proposal for the participatory configuration of this project.
This includes a space-time concept as well as a model economic plan. They serve the theater collective as a basis for labor practices and discussion. We will present our results at a future press conference, at a time to be determined.
The theater is to continue to function as a place of social experimentation. It is to create space for the new, space that encourages artistic risks. We want to play, to experiment, and to be allowed to fail in the process. The goals of the city theater are not to increase audience numbers and profit at any price; the goal is the creation of mimetic spaces of possibility.
Together we want to raise questions about urban politics and the potential of theater.
Our program welcomes everyone to participate. New projects can be proposed and existing projects can be pitched. For this process, several members of the collective have been appointed to accept project proposals. We are working together with diverse local political initiatives and theater collectives. We want to establish a parliament of the homeless and provide space for panel discussions and readings. Join us, become part of out transmedia theater project! This space will be created, negotiated, and, above all, played out through participation.
To the current artistic director
Our performative intervention is not about the person Chris Dercon, but rather about the renegotiation of Theater 2.0. Our criticism of Dercon’s appointment as artistic director of the Volksbühne is issued on the the level of cultural and urban development policy. We explicitly distance ourselves from all attacks against his person.
Chris Dercon is still to receive the state funding for his project at Tempelhof Airport and can carry it out there. The Volksbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, however, is to be managed by the Collective for the duration of our staging. We invite all artists already engaged by the Theater on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz to realize their productions as planned within the new collective structures.
Over the past weeks, all the artists involved have entered discussions with representatives of Dust to Glitter and have signaled their willingness to discuss and negotiate.
We would like to thank the many networks, collectives, and individuals who have helped to make this theatrical experiment a reality.
We hope negotiations will begin quickly.