Das Treffen – the other side world premiere

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In 2005 the city of Magdeburg, capital of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, is celebrating its 1200th birthday. Theatre Magdeburg, the city theatre of Magdeburg, is planning to actively participate in the festivities by designing and producing a unique multimedia arts and performance project under the title Das Treffen (The Gathering) – The Other Side. Partner of Theatre Magdeburg in this special theatre venture will be the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville. Nashville, capitol of Tennessee, is linked to Magdeburg by a vital Sister City partnership.

Two renowned authors, Thomas Oberender and Sebastian Orlac, have created a specially commissioned script placing the audience as the actual protagonists at the center of the performance. The experienced team of theatre director Markus Dietz and video artist Oliver Iserloh will stage the performance with five actors/actresses of Theatre Magdeburg and five actors/actresses from Nashville. The show will be presented in Magdeburg and Nashville simultaneously.

At both venues – Theatre Magdeburg and Tennessee Repertory Theatre (in Johnson Theatre, Tennessee Performing Arts Center) – the spectators will face a wide video screen. They will take part in the same performance, the same plot being performed on both sides: The actors enter and take their seats among the audience. Video cameras on both sides focus on individual spectators and transmit their images onto the screen and into the performance while on “the other side,” the actors, having become part of the audience, will tell individual stories, thus linking the people presented live onscreen to the narrative. The stories are based on real-life anecdotes and day-to-day experiences and express desires and disappointments, as well as moments of great happiness or tragedies of love.

The evening floats between the authenticity of the live situation and the fiction of the narrative. Not unlike a musical composition, text and visual images oscillate between points of closest intimacy and widest distance. A meeting of people on both continents, a meeting with one’s own self seen through the mirror of the vis-à-vis, a bridge to the “the other side.”

The show will be presented five times altogether. All performances will take place simultaneously in Magdeburg and Nashville and be transmitted live to the respective Sister City (the time difference between Nashville and Magdeburg being 7 hours).

The performances will also mark the opening festivities of the refurbished Schauspielhaus Magdeburg.

Performances:

Friday, September 30, 2005
12:00 AM and 3 AM local time, Schauspielhaus Magdeburg
5:00 PM and 8 PM local time, Nashville, Johnson Theatre, Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Saturday, October 1, 2005
8 PM, 12:00 AM, and 3 AM. local time, Schauspielhaus Magdeburg
1:00 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m., Nashville, Johnson Theatre, Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Credits:

Script: Thomas Oberender/Sebastian Orlac
Director: Markus Dietz
Video Artist: Oliver Iserloh
Project Manager: Gunda Mapache

A note from the Tennessee Rep artistic director

When I was approached with the idea of collaborating on this project, I immediately and enthusiastically said, “YES!” The idea is bold, the concept is fresh, the subject matter entirely accessible. And how often does any theatre company get to participate in a project that is truly groundbreaking, the first of its kind?

At Tennessee Rep we believe that theatre has the power to change lives for the better, to create moments of transcendence in performance, and to open up the limits of experience for our audiences. This project is a perfect fit for our mission.

Our nation, the U.S., tends to be very self-involved. Far too seldom do we look beyond our borders for the similarities in human experience that exist across the globe.

And although the technology utilized in this project allows us to break down the barriers of distance, what we are really breaking down is the delusion that differences in geography, race, politics, or class make us fundamentally different from one another. No matter where we live or what we profess, we are all made of the same stuff: the same cosmic dust. We share the same experiences. There are many different paths, but only one journey.

Tennessee Repertory Theatre is honored to taking part in this project. And we send our congratulations and best wishes to the Citizens of Magdeburg in celebration of your 1200 th year. Perhaps you will help Nashville celebrate the same anniversary in a thousand years or so. The technology will surely be different. But the journey will still be the same!

David Alford
Artistic Director
Tennessee Repertory Theatre