The starting point for our work is a question: How does our tradition of memory need to change in light of the radical diversity of our society?
Therefore, we understand memory work as a current issue, as work on our open society. Our project intertwines historiographical endeavors, e.g. the effort in the context of archaeology relating to the present or the attempt to do networking history, with artistic strategies. Consequently, the reflection of historiography and narration also plays a big role. In this context, our "artistic field of research" strives to achieve a kaleidoscopic perspective on the past to enrich our understanding of history, and therefore also our understanding of the present.
Memory work then becomes "work on the present", striving to find each other in the present through a shared understanding of the past. Artistic approaches enable shared experiences that can be the starting point for mutual understanding.
Since 2018, the couple Janne and Klaus Weinzierl have been researching with me the FATES of people who worked at the Munich Kammerspiele and were persecuted, deprived or murdered from 1933 on. Since then, we have become aware of a whole range of well over 200 FATES.
We currently publish a weekly podcast series on this research and we are working on a website that will provide online access to our research whilst also making it possible to have an actual experience of our very impactful research process.
We will also inaugurate a commemorative sign at the entrance to our playhouse on April 7. A plaque commemorating 28 people who worked at the Kammerspiele, were murdered from 1933 onwards or who chose to flee towards their deaths.
Such interventions in the architecture of the building alter the self-perception of the Munich Kammerspiele including, for example, the renaming of the second chamber as the Therese-Giehse-Halle.
For myself, there have been two shifts in the self-perception of the Kammerspiele in particular: On the one hand, I understood how strongly our organization was oriented to the East in its early days (1911 to 1933), which we consciously emphasized when we founded SISTERHOOD with Ukrainian artists in recent years. On the other hand, it has become clear to me that the aesthetic tradition of the Kammerspiele is fed from various sources. It seems to me very important to understand the differences in detail in order to clearly distinguish and at the same time to acknowledge!
The working methods of the founding period are authoritative for me: Experimentation, internationalization, and striking historical eyewitness testimony.
Our colleagues have made very different decisions. The closest colleagues were able to leave Mariupol in time. Nevertheless, I am very concerned about all those comrades who I met at the founding of SISTERHOOD in June 2021 in Mariupol.
Some artists have joined the defense of Kyiv, others are in Western Ukraine and are active there. Others have come to Munich, Vienna or Berlin to organize solidarity events in association with us and other theater institutions and also to continue their artistic work. The work of SISTERHOOD has been under two headings from the start: Distant neighbors and theater as a form of witnessing.
Our neighborhood in relation to Ukraine is now obvious, and so is the mission of art to engage in work on the present. A look at Putin's struggle for past narratives, as with the forced closure of Memorial, shows why we at the Kammerspiele regard memory work as work on the open society.
We try to provide support by initial reception as a theater, by initiating joint projects so that our colleagues in Germany can continue their work. We also organize solidarity events which serve to make Ukrainian perspectives visible as part of our European, democratic civil society.