Independent theatre and music theatre ensembles in Germany usually work under precarious conditions. With the existing funding institutions, they shimmy from one project application to the next. Rarely is the funding then high enough to allow more than two or three performances in the end. The amount of work and the number of performances are hardly in a meaningful relationship and many a project would have more than deserved to reach a larger number of spectators.
The Netherlands and Belgium show that things can be done differently. Those who receive funding there receive it over several projects, so they are structurally secure and can plan for the longer term. Funded groups perform their plays not only a few times at the premiere venue, but tour with them across the many stages of the country, because unlike in Germany, these stages are not staffed with their own ensembles.
This has an impact on the aesthetic forms that music theatre takes there. After all, projects have to function not only in front of a smaller ingroup, which is usually the audience in Germany, but in front of a much larger group of an audience that is interested but by no means specialised in contemporary music. On the other hand, a much larger audience than in Germany is socialised with new forms of music theatre.
The cooperation of several theatres within the NOperas! programme tries to create synergies that compensate to some extent for the dilemma of local funding structures. However, productions do not move from one stage to another as completed projects, but at the same time find the opportunity for further development. Just how worthwhile this can be was already evident last summer with the further development of “Kitesh” in Bremen and now also with the second station of the “Obsessions” project in Wuppertal.
The decisive factor for the changed stage effect that “Obsessions” has now acquired in Wuppertal is the enlarged space in which the individual with his or her actions appears more isolated and therefore more emphasised. At the same time, the spatial distance to the audience is also greater in Wuppertal. This makes the stage action seem much more pictorial than in Bremen.
The new performers in Wuppertal each fill out the basic concept developed and adopted in Bremen in a new way. Whereas in Bremen it was easy to distinguish between actors, singers and members of the Oblivia ensemble in terms of the type and quality of their respective physical actions, the performers now form a much more cohesive ensemble that works on a homogeneous common basis.
Oblivia’s working method is similar in some ways to that of Pina Bausch, and even though this choreographed theatre is quite different, at the premiere Wuppertal seems to have remembered the old days. There was great and sustained applause.