The Builders Association USA
After their celebrated world premiere of "Jump Cut" at SPIELART 97 the Builders Association opened SPIELART 99 with their production JET LAG, an ironic multimedia parable about the mobility and media publicity of our time, with Diller + Scofidio from New York.
Marianne Weems founded the Builders Association in 1993. The group, consisting of established American artists from different fields, produces multimedia performances in which the mode of expression of television, cinema and architecture is examined. The New York multimedia duet Elizabeth Diller and Riccardo Scofidio explore the interfaces between graphic arts, architecture and performance.
François Béchu / Théâtre de l'Echappée France
François Béchu is an actor and a director. In 1999 he was a guest performer at Spielart with his production "Mendel Schainfeld - Le Deuxième Voyage à Munich." Hans-Dieter Grabe's 1971 documentary film about Mendel Schainfeld's journey provided him with a starting point for his theater piece. François Béchu plays Mendel Schainfeld, who tells stories from his life to his traveling companions while on his way to Munich. The audience is a witness of a time period, and the stage is a real railroad car.
Eimuntas Nekrosius / Meno Fortas Theater Company
Born in 1952 in Lithuania, the director Eimuntas Nekrosius has influenced the development of a new style in Lithuanian theater with his productions. His works are poetic and metaphoric, and their main focus is on the precise and three-dimensional performances of the actors. The visual language of Nekrosius is filled with multiple layers of meanings. In his production of "Makbetas," performed at the SPIELART 1999 festival, huge swinging tree trunks determine the rhythm. "The sudden flood of mysterious, cryptic images keep posing questions ..." (Theater heute, April, 1999).
In 1988 he and his theater in Vilnius became famous overnight in the West with their guest performances of "Uncle Vanja." They followed that production with Puschkin's "Mozart and Salieri. Don Juan. Plague," and Chekhov's "Three Sisters." Both productions were awarded numerous prizes. Nekrosius' version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" was created as a coproduction with the Hebbel Theater in Berlin. Hamlet was played by the young Lithuanian rock star Andrius Mamontovas, whose melancholic songs, according to Nekrosius, have the power to turn a horde of juveniles into "tame lambs." Under Nekrosius' direction, the stage transforms into an "icy children's hell," into a "torture chamber of slave-driving fathers and their mistreated children." Ice water incessantly drips onto the stage. Sigrid Löffler wrote these comments on the production for the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit": "Vilnius' Hamlet is a Hamlet for advanced students. Nekrosius doesn't stage the text, he translates the subtext into images. As a neurotic, tortured oedipal child prince, this Hamlet has no equal."
Showcase Beat Le Mot Germany
Showcase Beat Le Mot is a collective of six performers who work in a large artists' network. All of them studied at the Gießen Institute for Applied Theatre Studies. Showcase Beat Le Mot examines the connection between leisure time and work in a society in which millions of people do not have a job - or do not know how to kill time.
Acco Theater Center Israel
The Acco Theater Center blazes new trails in the area of social theater, and it has given itself the goal of striving for strong alliances between Arabian and Jewish artists. The ATC was founded by David Maayan und Smadar Yaaron; Ms. Yaaron has played a central role in this theater's history as a actor and artistic director since that time. Smadar Yaaron was born in Petach Tikva, Israel, and she spent part of her childhood in Czechoslovakia. From 1976-80 she studied social theater at the University of Tel Aviv. Today she teaches at the University of Haifa.
Theater Basel & Stimmhorn Switzerland
The two musicians Christian Zehnder and Balthasar Streif make up the duo Stimmhorn, which dare to cross the borders of Helvetian soundscapes with Alphorn and harmonic singing. Zehnder and Streiff were given several commissions for compositions and awarded several prizes for their willingness to experiment in innovative ways. They have been enchanting audiences all over the world with their incomparable concerts in the meantime.
In "Verlust der Stille" ("The Loss of Silence") Stimmhorn presented in 1999 for the first time a scenic piece, which they created as a musical-archeological project together with actors from Theater Basel.
"Extremely serious, technically brilliant, and totally crazy .... You just have to experience it! They belong in a category closer to art than to music; they are typical local, living sculptures - and much more amusing than Gilbert and George." The Guardian
The Young at Heart Chorus USA
The producer Roy Faudree was a guest at SPIELART in 1995 with "DUPE" and in 1997 with "DFS - De Fiance Suction". 1999 he presented a special kind of music theatre with "Road to Heaven". The performers of the Young at Heart Chorus, all of whom are between 66 and 94 years of age, take the audience on an unusual yet moving journey through the stories of their lives. The stops along this "Sentimental Journey" are songs of yesterday and today by Bob Dylan, the Bee Gees, by the Talking Heads and many others.
"Road to Heaven" is dedicated to all those chorus members who have died within the last 15 years - especially R. Warren Clark and Anna Main. R. Warren Clark was famous for his imitation of Sophie Tucker, the vaudeville star of the 1920s, who as Red Hot Mama got audiences cheering loudly. Anna Main, mother of 21 children, was one of the leading ladies of the chorus until the day of her death.
The members of the Young at Heart Chorus live in an old people's home in Massachusetts where they practice regularly. Since 1982 they have appeared at international festivals and work with colleagues from various fields - e.g. Hispanic-American break-dancers, musicians and dancers from Cambodia and Puerto Rico and the Pioneer Valley Gay Men's Chorus.
Forced Entertainment Great Britain
Forced Entertainment was founded in 1984. Since then the group has been working more or less in the same formation, developing themes and expressive forms during the working process. Using fragmentary remembrances, ideas and set pieces from old and new stories, they create masterful, comprehensive compositions by means of ingenious timing.
The story of SPIELART is to a large degree also the story of Forced Entertainment, which celebrated their first guest performance at a German festival with their work "Speak Bitterness" at the SPIELART festival in 1997. Since then, SPIELART has coproduced every important new creation by Forced Entertainment, such as the 24-hour performance "Who can sing a song to unfrighten me?" in 1999, which was performed throughout Europe at all of the important festivals; the piece "First Night" in 2001, which split the audience into two camps of those who were shocked and those were captivated; and "Bloody Mess" in 2003, the preliminary result of a work-in-progress that was completed in 2004 for the twentieth anniversary of Forced Entertainment.
"One of the most influential new British theater companies of the last twenty years." The Guardian, London
Fanny & Alexander Italy
The performance group Fanny & Alexander was formed in Ravenna in 1992. As one of the youngest groups of the "new wave" of Italian neo-avantgarde theatres it was awarded the Premio Bertolucci and the Premio Coppola Prati in 1997. A branch of Fanny & Alexander is the Teddy Bear Company, which has been carrying out campaigns in the public sector since 1993.
Station House Opera Great Britain
The London company Station House Opera was founded in 1980, and since then it has gained an international reputation for its astounding works that are very relevant to the specific performance space.
The productions take place all over the world in a wide variety of venues, from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City to Dresden's Frauenkirche, or the cathedral in Salisbury.
Wim Vandekeybus/Ultima Vez Belgium
Wim Vandekeybus is director, choreographer, actor and photographer. After working together with Jan Fabre for two years, he set up his own structure for working, Ultima Vez. Ultima Vez is a company consisting of a dozen young artists and actors and several artistic, technical and administrative colleagues. In 1999 he was a guest performer at Spielart with the production "In Spite of Wishing and Wanting." This piece was created in collaboration with musician David Byrne (formerly of "Talking Heads").
Teatr Cinema Poland
Teatr Cinema was founded in 1992 by Zbigniew Szumski. Since that time, the company has worked on pieces as "a revolt of the imagination against the routine of reality." The style of Teatr Cinema is characterized by a vibrant poetry between normality and abstraction, inspired by paintings by René Magritte, texts by Samuel Beckett, and art from the Dadaists. Teatr Cinema is considered to be one of the most internationally renowned representatives of the theater scene in Poland.
Jerzy Lukosz, one of the best known contemporary authors and playwrights in Poland, had this to say about the work of Teatr Cinema: "Someone once said that ninety-nine percent of everything that calls itself art is not art at all. If I can say something with certainty, then it is this: The work of Teatr Cinema is part of that one percent the skeptics have reserved for art. Kantor and Marthaler are in good company here."
Alexander Gerner Germany
In 1998 the writer and producer Alexander Gerner presented the multimedia performance "Zap Through My Life" in the Munich Muffathalle which met with great success. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: "Without moralising, Alexander Gerner succeeds in making the paradox mechanisms of media machinery transparent, which are steered by voyeurism and exhibitionism, a machinery in which we all play a role, whether we want to or not."
Stück für Stück - A performance festivity in six courses
Roman Signer/Pierre Favre Switzerland
Roman Signer, born in Appenzell, studied in Zurich and Warsaw, worked at a pressure-cooker firm and took part in the Biennale in Venice in 1999. Pierre Favre, a drummer and percussionist born in Switzerland, has played in various European big bands and with famous jazz players from America and Europe. His interest in complicated rhythms and new sounds led him to world music via free jazz.
Seiji Shimoda Japan
Seiji Shimoda is performance artist, poet and director of NIPAF (Nippon International Performance Art Festival). Born in 1951 in Nagano, Japan, he started to write poetry in highschool and then discovered performance art. Shimoda explores the boundaries of writing with his action poetry. Using his large network of international performance artists, Shimoda organizes Nippon International Performance Art Festival since 1993.
Akemi Takeya Japan/Austria
The dancer, choreographer, performer and musician Akemi Takeya comes from Japan. She interwove the structures of Butoh with other Japanese and European dance forms, thus creating an autonomous body language.
Maren Strack Germany
Maren Strack was born in 1967 in Hamburg, and studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Munich. In her performances she moves between sculpture and dance. She constructs stories using movement, props and noises, and the stories tell something different to each member of the audience.
In 1995 Maren Strack received a sponsorship grant for theater and dance from the City of Munich, and she was awarded a grant to study at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, in 2001.
Fen-Ma Liuming China
Fen-Ma Liuming's themes bear the imprint of his daily experiences, of his position as an outsider, of the capitalisation and the upheavals of society in China.
Since 1993 he has been living and working in Peking, where he had to spend two months in prison in 1995 for the "obscenity" of his performances. The performance of his work is only permitted in private rooms in China.
Toshimasa Furukawa Japan
Toshimasa Furukawa endeavours to vegetalise or to mineralise his body in various ways. He runs an antiquarian bookshop in Osaka.
Actor's Choice - Actor's Sketches
Richard Crane/Marta Oldenburg Great Britain/Sweden
Richard Crane, member of the group Remote Control and an actor in advertising films and B movies, lives and works as a freelance actor and performer in London. The Swede Marta Oldenburg has been engaged as a dancer, actress, performer, accordion player and singer by Remote Control and Ingmar Bergman amongst others.
Natali Seelig Germany
The magazine "Theater heute" crowned Natali Seelig "Actress of the Year" in 1998. After studying acting at the Otto Falckenberg School in Munich, she was hired by Staatstheater Hannover in 1992. One year later she followed general administrator Eberhard Witt when he moved to Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel. After working at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Natali Seelig has been a member of the ensemble of Thalia Theater in Hamburg since the 2002/2003 season.
Viviane De Muynck/Martijn Vink Belgium
Viviane De Muynck, protagonist of the Needcompany in Brussels for many years, is regarded worldwide as one of the most renowned freelance actresses. Martijn Vink works as a cellist for various ensembles.
Wu Wenguang/Walter Siegfried China/Germany
Wu Wenguang lives and works as a documentary film maker and performer in Peking. Walter Siegfried, who has a doctor's degree in psychology, works as a performer and singer in Munich.