Belated Preparations for a New Generation based on Lear.
“Better thou, hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better.” (King Lear to his daughter)
“Daddy’s working boots have filled their obligation.” (Dolly Parton about her fatherʼs shoes)
In the first scene of Shakespeareʼs “King Lear”, the old man tries to bequeath his kingdom in a grand gesture to his three daughters in the hope of thus securing an arrangement for his old-age – a plan that fails violently. This is not surprising, as of all the trade-offs we are involved in, the one between the generations is the most complicated and devious.
The value of something and its equivalent (like money and love) are in principle concealed and no one has ever officially agreed to their conditions of exchange. This applies to almost all agreements between the generations: they are foul. They have never taken place. They donʼt exist. The stables which need to be cleaned out, are filled to the rim with data and details, trinkets, genealogies, laws of descent and distribution, hereditary diseases, oaths of love, care plans in case of infirmity, gas receipts and feelings of guilt – all of them bargaining chips in this public confrontation of daughters and fathers.
For “Testament”, She She Pop will be inviting their own fathers to join them on stage. The theater is the negotiating table for a utopian process: a compromise between the generations.
Concept: She She Pop. With Sebastian and Joachim Bark, Johanna Freiburg, Fanni and Peter Halmburger, Lisa Lucassen, Mieke und Manfred Matzke, Ilia and Theo Papatheodorou, Berit Stumpf.
Stage: SSP und Sandra Fox.
Costumes: Lea Søvsø.
Music: Christopher Uhe.
Documentation: Bianca Schemel.
Light: Sven Nichterlein.
Sound: Florian Fischer.
Assistant and Dramaturgical Advice: Kaja Jakstat.
Hospitation: Laura Lo Zito.
Graphic: Tobias Trost.
Production and PR: ehrliche arbeit.
Administration: Elke Weber
A She She Pop production. In Co-Production with the Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg and FFT Düsseldorf. Funded by the City of Berlin, the City of Hamburg and the Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V.
She She Pop is a Berlin-based performance collective that emerged from the Applied Theater Studies program in Gießen in 1998. Its members are Sebastian Bark, Johanna Freiburg, Fanni Halmburger, Lisa Lucassen, Mieke Matzke, Ilia Papatheodorou, and Berit Stumpf. Elke Weber runs the companyʼs office on Mariannenplatz in Berlin.
The collective develops concepts and shows beyond the hierarchical divisions of labor in directorʼs theater. For She She Pop, the stage is a utopian space in which acute decisions are made, social systems and conversation techniques are tried out, and in which major gestures and social rituals can be rehearsed and discarded again and again. She She Pop sees its purpose as seeking out the societal borders of communication and then strategically and artistically transgressing these boundaries in the shelter of the theater.
At the moment, She She Popʼs most important base for productions is Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin. The companyʼs productions travel regularly to various independent theaters and festivals internationally and throughout the German-speaking world.
In its 15 year history, the performance collective She She Pop has developed a specific aesthetic and ideological profile. Here are a few important aspects of this profile:
Our works are created collectively, without directors, authors, or actors. This is as much an aesthetic premise as an ideological one. Our understanding of performance puts the individual responsibility and artistic liability of each and every performer in the center of our work. Against this backdrop, we hope that onstage individual decisions as well as successes and failures will become legible und topical.
We are not actresses. Instead, we give ourselves and each other interesting tasks to be solved onstage. Each performer develops her own perspective from her own, exemplary horizon of experience. Though this might be interpreted as autobiographical theater, recourse to our personal lives is a methodological decision, not a thematic one. Condensing personal materials always points to exemplary positions and strategies – an invitation to identify with a specific line of questioning and thought.
She She Pop is a womanʼs collective. Perhaps this is the reason questions of the gaze, power structures, potentials for action, and unconsciousness are inseparably connected to our practice. Our confrontation with socially defined images of femininity and masculinity and the bodily conceptions that go along with them, as well as with the coercion of and outside ascription inherent in (feminine) conceptions of the self goes hand in hand with our feminist project. The unique situation of being a group of women presenting to and being presented to viewers is a constant object for observation and reflection for us both on and off stage.
Our form of theater is experimental. This means we work on the fundamental forms of theatrical communication and never take them as givens. We see our work in redefining the implicit agreements between performers and audience in every production and in insisting on these negotiations as part of the events themselves.
As such, in earlier shows the spatial division between “stage” and “bleachers” was constantly in question, and interaction with the spectators was often a characteristic element of the performance. The history of She She Pop could be told as a chronicle of varying modes of audience participation. Often, the dramaturgy of an evening with She She Pop is defined by shifts between inclusion and withdrawal, control and escalation, seeing and seeing oneself, denial and indulgence.
In She She Popʼs most recent works, there is no space for individualized spectator participation. Nevertheless, the audience always receives an ascription as a directly addressed public and thus retains a particular function: as all works by She She Pop are in their own way experiments or lines of evidence, they would be invalid without witnesses.
"Rarely do the great questions of life present themselves on stage so spirited and full of feeling , so touching and allusive... Absolutely remarkable."
Dirk Pilz, NZZ Online. June, 1st, 2011
„I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU. For twelve years now, the performance collective SHE SHE POP has transformed issues of (also) personal meaning to them into theater. Their most recent production “Testament” is a particularly well-made and successful example of this.“
Eva Behrendt, Theater heute, 06/ 2010
„Once the first “Lear” scene is read, the beautiful delirium, which She She Pop so expertly know how to work with, sneaks its way onto the stage... The She She Pop fraud is less about lying than about dithering. Dithering between process and product, discussion and text, intimacy and distance... In the personal conversations, the piece surprisingly returns over and over again to precisely those leitmotifs, which propel the old drama forward. “Testament” offers hundreds of such possible misunderstandings.
Tobi Müller, Frankfurter Rundschau, February 27th, 2010
„ ravely, forthrightly and intelligently or: well worth seeing and discussing.“
Klaus Witzeling, Hamburger Abendblatt, March 9th, 2010
This piece has been celebrated and for good reasons, as can be stated after the Zurich premiere of „Testament“ by She She Pop and their fathers. It stirred the audience considerably and set a first highlight at the Theaterspektakel.
Claudio Steiger, NZZ, August, 20th, 2011