Kunstfest Weimar from 21st August – 7th September

Under the new artistic direction of Rolf C. Hemke, the internationally renowned festival for the contemporary arts will present a current, decidedly political and international reflection on the cultural history of Weimar.

Speakers at its spectacular and dramatic opening event recreating the adoption of the Weimar Constitution 100 years ago include top-level national and state politicians from Bodo Ramelow, Gregor Gysi and Birgit Diezel to Katrin Göring-Eckhardt, Nina Scheer and Carsten Schneider.

Rolf C. Hemke said, “Kunstfest Weimar is the biggest central German arts festival. The upcoming edition is my first and brings new focusses around experimental music theatre and a far-reaching reflection on postcolonial themes in an irreversibly migrant society.

 “Those political issues develop an even bigger importance set against the background of three regional parliamentary elections in central Germany on the 1st of September and 27th of October, when the right winged-nationalistic AfD could gain the majority in each. This would represent a significant rupture in German post-war history.

 “Therefore, it is even more important to develop a creative vision of a diverse and tolerant world, which tears down borders instead of creating new ones. Weimar with the splendour of its classic heritage from Bach to Goethe and Schiller to Nietzsche, with this year’s grand centenaries of the foundation of Bauhaus and the adoption of the democratic Weimar constitution, but as well with its dark Nazi history is the perfect place for a complex artistic counterstrike.”

Fifteen world premieres and eight German premieres of theatre projects, installations, compositions and choreographies. Prominent international artists like Katie Mitchell, Benjamin Verdonck, Falk Richter and Kettly Noël are highlights of “2019 – the Weimar Year”. The programme is in thematic clusters based on this year’s anniversaries: 100 years of the Weimar Constitution, 100 years of Bauhaus, 80 years since the start of the Second World War, 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and 200 years since the publication of Goethe’s West Eastern Divan.

With its new focus on contemporary music theatre and international and interdisciplinary theatre and performance projects, the artistic programme will be complemented by wide-ranging events including lectures, discussions and readings including a semi-theatrical panel discussion led by the provocative political artist Philipp Ruch set against the upcoming Saxony and Brandenburg elections. Joining Ruch are Lea Rosh, Naika Foroutan, Professor Michel Friedmann and on the phone from the afterlife Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

The spectacular opening will be Nurkun Erpulat’s staging of Reichstags-Reenactment on the 21st/22nd of August with musical interventions by Matthias Goerne. Participants in this recreation of the historic moment the Weimar constitution was adopted not only include Weimar citizens and the national theatre ensemble, but also a series of top-level national and state politicians from Bodo Ramelow, Gregor Gysi and Birgit Diezel to Katrin Göring-Eckhardt, Nina Scheer and Carsten Schneider.

The music theatre programme begins on Friday the 23rd of August: with the four-hour urban intervention by Novoflot to launch the world premiere of Die Oper #1. This paraphrase of Monteverdi will continue in the evening with a stage performance involving the work of a number of famous jazz musicians: Hayden Chisholm, Eric Schaeffer, Nils Wogram, Chris Dahlgren.

The same night, a 25-hour immersive musical multimedia installation will begin on the Bauhaus University campus, created by the Cologne sound artists Rochus Aust. On the 24th of August, Katie Mitchell’s Zauberland will celebrate its international premiere – a staged version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe enhanced by a song cycle by Bernard Foccroulle.

The same night there will also be the world premiere of Weimar Cabaret by the performance group Gintersdorfer/Klaßen under the musical direction of Ted Gaier (drummer of the cult band Die Goldenen Zitronen) on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the opening of the exhibition Entartete Musik (degenerate music) in Weimar in 1939.

The second week of the festival explores the voices of Arabic-speaking artists in exile – three German premieres by well-known Arabic-speaking theatre artists: Layl/Night by the Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour and two exile Syrian projects: Wael Ali with Sous un ciel bas/Under a Hanging Sky and Wael Kadour/Mohamad Al Rashi with Chronique d´une ville qu´on croit connaître/Chronicle of a City We Think We Know.

Other highpoints in the programme are the world premiere of Sag mir wo die Blumen sind by the Flemish performance artist Benjamin Verdonck on the 29th of August, the world premiere of the gender project Redcäppchen by the German-Polish director Paulina Neukampf. The dance tetralogy Signifying Ghosts by Bonn company CocoonDance includes work by the internationally distinguished choreographers Rafaële Giovanola, Vera Sander, Nelisiwe Xaba and Kettly Noël. The project will be completed with the world premiere of Noël’s Dialogue entre mouche et moustique and will be shown in its entirety for the first time.

Thuringen’s biggest festival for the contemporary arts will end on the 7th of September with just as much panache as it began: Matthias Goerne will interpret a newly created, large-scale work by world-famous painter Georg Baselitz in a recital, which will be presented to the public for the first time on that night. The painter will also attend in person.