The subject of escape and the engagement for refugees are increasingly leaving their mark on the daily operations of theatres in Germany. Not only are theatres opening their doors to immigrants, but they’re also trying to present the current social upheavals dramatically on stage.
How can theatres sustainably integrate refugee artists into German ensembles? What kind of bureaucratic hurdles and language barriers exist and how can they be overcome? How can integration be achieved in this special world of municipal theatre? These are the questions the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin has addressed with the “Exil Ensemble”. The theatre has developed an extensive, two-year model project based on the theme of integration. The aim was to create a model of artistic production with refugees which could be adapted to other theatres. The project has established a professional ensemble of seven refugees, who have worked full-time at the Maxim Gorki Theatre for a period of two years. Receiving dramaturgical support, the members of the Refugee Ensemble have developed one production per season which could be taken on tour to other cooperating theatres.
The members of the Refugee Ensemble have also performed in other productions at the Gorki, as well as developed their own individual performances and lectures. As part of the project, the refugees had the chance to receive further training, support from actors of the Gorki Theater in a mentoring programme, and the opportunity to participate in master classes under such renowned directors as René Pollesch, Sebastian Baumgarten, Sebastian Nübling and Falk Richter. For their part, the refugees had been invited to share their own experience and knowledge in the educational programme of the Maxim Gorki Theater. Three members of the Exil Ensemble had already been chosen, and another four were selected in an open call competition.
The Maxim Gorki Theater is predestined to take on such a model project at a German city theatre. Since Shermin Langhoff assumed the position of General Theatre Director, the topics of escape and migration have become central points of reference in the theatre’s artistic activities. The theatre has since received numerous inquiries from other institutions which are interested in learning more about the results of these projects.
Artistic directors: Shermin Langhoff, Yael Ronen (IL), Ayham Majid Agha (SY), Irina Szodruch
Artists: Ayham Majid Agha (SY), Maryam Abu Khaled, Karim Daoud (PS), Tahera Hashemi (AFG), Kenda Hmeidan (SY), Mazen Aljubbeh (SY), Hussein AL Shatheli (SY), Thomas Wodianka, Nils Bormann, René Pollesch, Sebastian Baumgarten, Sebastian Nübling, Falk Richter and others
Berlin: workshops/master classes, studio production, stage productions: 8 Apr. – 31 Dec. 2017; Stage production tour with workshops: 1 Jan. – 31 Jul.2018