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photo © Akademie der Künste Berlin/Kai Miedendorp

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2014

SPIELWEISEN is an idea as simple as it is clever: a series of ten filmed conversations with German actors about the moment and methods of acting. Curated by Ulrich Matthes with artists of his choice, it takes place in theaters significant to that person (e.g. Edith Clever with Nele Hertling in the Hebbel-Theater, Sandra Hüller in the Munich Kammerspiele etc). The conversations vary greatly with regard to mood as well as content, given the range of individuals concerned. This is then reflected in the visual composition.

SPIELWEISEN poses the question: what is real? How do aesthetic productions behave in relation to political and social space? In that nexus of subject and object, of physical presence and image, of the present, the here and now, and of memory, the Berlin Academy of Arts shines a spotlight on the construction and deconstruction of reality in the artists themselves. After all, it is an accepted and indisputable truism that the threshold between digital information and analogue use, between machine and man, between virtuality and body has long since become a dialectical key motive of contemporary art.

The moment in which somebody stands in front of another and claims to be someone he or she is not is the original moment, the big bang, of theater. Whether the claim is made in the form of a masquerade, through changed behavior or words, makes no difference. When acting is afoot, then for the length of the play the reality is that people watch other people reflecting that reality. As the greatest ever dramatist William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 2): “For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” Exactly.