26 Jun 2024

New formats & forgotten plays

Three projects in this year’s summer programme explore theatrical formats, neuronal processes and wandering memories – from very different vantage points. What unites them are collaborative techniques, inviting the audience to journeys of discovery through yesterday, today and tomorrow and making it the focus of attention.

Sasha Waltz & Guests and the theatrical collective Rimini Protokoll present their examination of human interaction and an experiment involving the audience at the SZENE Salzburg. Stefan Kaegi, one of the co-founders of this theatrical label, creates a “documentary evening of dance” in which the functioning of so-called “Spiegelneuronen” (mirror neurons) is explored.

These nerve cells in the brain are responsible for recognizing emotions and are said to spark action, perception and empathy. In the stage experiment, a huge mirror will serve to analyse the relationship between the individual and society by means of dance – starting with the movement impulses of the dancers of the Compagnie Sasha Waltz. “The audience is invited not only to observe dance, but to move itself, to be an active part of a collective system from their seat, to experience themselves as part of a kind of huge brain.” Rimini Protokoll, which tests its knowledge and abilities beyond the theatre, has developed this stage piece together with experts, involving concepts from brain research, biology, sociology and artificial intelligence.

The fact that new theatrical formats are not necessarily tied to unusual locations and can also revolve around the play as a form in its own right is proved by the “staged marathon reading” Vergessene Stücke (Forgotten Plays), in cooperation with the Mozarteum University. Assembling works from three centuries of theatrical history, with a focus on Austrian drama, the Swiss director Zino Wey and the German author Simon Strauß facilitate encounters with forgotten tales and voices. “This is about the fundamental question of what a canon means and what a counter-canon might be. What does it mean when we forget plays – and which political, social, mental relevance do pieces have which we have forgotten?”, says Simon Strauß. “However, this is not a museum project: we will present pieces which cut to the core of today’s zeitgeist, which unfold with incredibly radical verve and occupy our minds.” The discussions, films, installations, concert readings – presented by an extraordinary ensemble around Kristof Van Boven, Burghart Klaußner, Dörte Lyssewski, Stefanie Reinsperger and others, as well as students of the Mozarteum University – aim to create special moments of collective experience, making the audience a collaborator in the greater whole. “We invite people to spend a whole day with us, making their own discoveries in various spaces and constellations!”, says Zino Wey.

The German musician, composer, author and director Heiner Goebbels describes his 2018 production Everything That Happened and Would Happen (based on texts from Patrik Ouředník’s Europeana) as a “multi-disciplinary performance” in which music, light, performance, spoken word, objects and films are united in one installation. The large-scale work depicts the destructive history of Europe during the past 100 years in one theatrical chronicle, a landscape of images and sounds – starting with World War I and up to current events. This landscape, in which past, present and future are superimposed with the memories and associations of the audience, must be actively explored!

First published in the Festival insert of Salzburger Nachrichten 2024

Translation: Alexa Nieschlag


5. February 2024
Spiegelneuronen | Salzburg Festival 2024 – Statement Stefan Kaegi
12. December 2023
Everything that happened and would happen | Salzburg Festival 2024 – Statement Heiner Goebbels
Spiegelneuronen | Salzburg Festival 2024 – Statement Stefan Kaegi
Everything that happened and would happen | Salzburg Festival 2024 – Statement Heiner Goebbels