Press articles translated by Claire Cahm
FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU 13/05/2009
THE CITY’S BEST TRADITIONS
A New Theatre in Frankfurt
Suhrkamp is leaving but the Schmidtstraße is here to stay, now to be known under its new name Frankfurt LAB. An affiliation of Frankfurt artists and institutions plus funding from the "kulturfonds frankfurt rheinmain" have made this possible. By Peter Michalzik
As already reported in a section of yesterday’s edition, the "Schmidtstraße", Schauspiel Frankfurt’s second stage, is now not closing after all. An affiliation of several Frankfurt artists and institutions along with funding from the "kulturfonds frankfurt rheinmain" have made this possible. Suhrkamp is leaving but the Schmidtstraße is here to stay, now to be known under its new name Frankfurt LAB. Basic funding has been secured for four years, the kulturfonds decided on Tuesday.
The Schmidtstraße is dead, long live Frankfurt LAB. The idea is so good it immediately begs the question: How come nobody thought of it before? Why had it not been done already? Under Elisabeth Schweeger’s direction the hall had been extended into an external venue with the unconventional and successful program care of Armin Petras and Florian Fiedler. Nevertheless, Schauspiel Frankfurt’s new director Oliver Reese had still announced the premises on Frankfurt’s western periphery would be closed.
This prompted a decision by five Frankfurt institutions to turn these premises into their theatre: which is why finally William Forsythe and his Company will now have the free space in Frankfurt they had sought for so long to no avail. At last they now have a location where they can experiment with new ideas as well as a venue for showing these to an audience. This also means Forsythe has found a place for it to further develop its "Motion Bank" project.
The next partner is the Mousonturm. This cultural institution will now finally have a stage of a size suitable for guest performances with 20m by 20m instead of the ten by ten it had to survive on until now. Furthermore, the Mousonturm wishes to found a dance company here!
The music and performing arts academy Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst will finally have a space here where it can present performing art – at the academy itself there is only a concert hall. And it will also be able to cooperate with The Forsythe Company and the fourth partner, the Ensemble Modern.
The Ensemble Modern will now also have a location for presenting productions previously impossible to show in Frankfurt due to lack of suitable venue, i.e. not a classic concert space. The Ensemble Modern especially wishes to start work on productions developed with Heiner Goebbels, Goebbels being the fifth partner from the Hessische Theaterakademie. This theatre academy will now finally have a rehearsal and performance space in Frankfurt thereby making it a part of Frankfurt’s cultural sphere.
Frankfurt LAB will therefore be a workspace for some of the best elements on the Frankfurt cultural scene. Unbelievably, none of them have ever had a proper venue, especially since the closure of the Theater am Turm. The best thing about Frankfurt LAB is also that the city’s best traditions and culture, its emancipatory, independent and experimental spirit, its orientation towards not the past but the future, its somewhat brittle and intellectual nature, now have a venue. This is all the more necessary given that the city has for years been dominated by culturally conservative forces. At present, there seems no counter movement here except in the Schmidtstraße.
Frankfurt LAB will not function like a conventional theatre. The idea is that performances shown here will develop out of the working process and be lifted into the program at short notice. There is no elaborate program planning but simply an open venue for the spontaneous amongst us – the kind of people who say: "I wonder if there’s anything on in the Schmidtstraße tonight?"
Completely converted into a theatre, the hall was on the verge of being rented out to technical control board TÜV Hessen or similar bodies. All that is now missing is a light and sound unit as Schauspiel Frankfurt will be completely removing the existing one.
What is surprising is that the new theatre survives without any money from the City of Frankfurt which has not been involved in the project in any way so far. And yet Frankfurt LAB is tailor-made for this city. Making it all the more worthy that kulturfonds frankfurt rheinmain decided to step in at short notice.
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG RM 06/10/2009
"FRANKFURT LAB" FOR NEW PROJECTS DOVETAILING THEATRE, DANCE AND MUSIC
Interdisciplinary Production and Experimentation Centre Officially Opens
Contemporary and interdisciplinary performing art is to now have a new basis in Frankfurt: yesterday saw the official opening of "Frankfurt Lab", a "laboratory for modern expression in the Frankfurt Rhine Main region", as the title of this collaboration reads. The Forsythe Company, the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, the Hessische Theaterakademie, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and the Ensemble Modern will be able to use Schauspiel Frankfurt’s former venue on the site of the Kommunikationsfabrik in the Schmidtstraße for an initial four years now.
The venue is intended as a laboratory and space for experimentation where new projects can be developed without the constraints of conventional theatre operation – including the possible failure of such attempts. Spontaneous and occasional performances are to be held here at short notice but the laboratory is not intended as a theatre.
Within a few months since spring those involved have been able to rent the hall and develop a concept: funded by the kulturfonds frankfurt rheinmain, the Polytechnische Gesellschaft and the BHF-Bank-Stiftung the five-point alliance is run by an association presided over by attorney-at-law Stefan Mumme and has a good Euro 1.5 m available for four years. The sum is sufficient to cover hall rental and provide basic technical equipment and a technician. Lab participants must, however, fund the individual projects themselves, Mumme clarified yesterday. He is hoping more funding will come; negotiations are currently underway about the possibility of creating an organisational post.
Some projects have already been suggested. The BHF-Bank-Stiftung is considering holding the next "Frankfurter Positionen" project with its commissions at "Frankfurt Lab". There is also to be a youth dance project organised by Mousonturm in conjunction with regional broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk. The music academy is planning an opera with students studying under the composer Beat Furrer. At least one of the five institutions always has to be involved in any project.
Artists have been in search of a large hall where projects can be realised outside the traditional proscenium stage format for a long time now. Furthermore, those involved here, like William Forsythe, also hope to be able to join up with other participants to realise productions in planning for a long time as well as projects arising at short notice and "work in progress". These have often failed in the past due to a lack of time and venue. Both these will now be available at "Frankfurt Lab". Here students of the music academy, the International Ensemble Modern Academy and the Hessische Theaterakademie are now to be given the opportunity to gain practical experience. Alongside the recently renovated large hall there is also another hall for smaller projects and rehearsals.
Hesse’s Minister for the Arts Eva Kühne-Hörmann and Frankfurt’s Cultural Affairs Director Felix Semmelroth (both CDU) see Frankfurt taking on a pioneering role here alongside its international competitors. Kühne-Hörmann’s predecessor but one, Ruth Wagner (FDP), Board of Trustees Chairwoman at the kulturfonds, said funding "Frankfurt Lab" was a decision that defied traditions in favour of experimentation. After the four years a symposium is to examine conditions determining the success and failure of art projects, Wagner said.
FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU 06/10/2009
IN THE LAB
[…] This is stuff new ideas are made of. Amidst the crisis signals could be sent out from Frankfurt that prompt people to say: goodness, Frankfurt. Here most outsiders until now thought you can earn good money in the City on the Main and that the liberal climate lets you live and let live. With the work at the Laboratory of Modern Expression perhaps we will soon be able to say: from Frankfurt the avantgarde is discovering other aesthetic dimensions. This is not necessarily the worst thing around, especially in times like these when a different approach to modern expression can be a rewarding undertaking. Especially after all the shocks associated with the Rhine-Main region.
By Matthias Arning
FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU 06/10/2009
A TESTING GROUND
The Avantgarde Moves into the Schmidtstraße
The avantgarde has found its place again in Frankfurt. In the Laboratory of Modern Expression that theatre-makers, dancers and musicians want to set up in the halls of the Schmidtstraße. The project began on Monday. And Hesse’s Minister for Science Eva Kühne-Hörmann acknowledged the lab as an "important USP for the entire Rhine-Main conurbation" allowing the region to compete internationally. The laboratory will first enter into "an experimental phase", enthused the CDU politician which "is something that does not happen on the normal cultural scene." This is something to look forward to. […] The signal sent out by Monday’s opening is clear for Cultural Affairs Director Felix Semmelroth (CDU): "This is something new," the city councillor said. Those involved had now ultimately "already impacted the cultural profile of the region". It could be anticipated that "we will achieve something forward-looking" because musicians, dancers and theatre-makers would have the opportunity to try out the unusual while not having to stick to a program, he said. The halls along the Schmidtstraße formerly used as an external venue for Schauspiel Frankfurt could now, he said, be used to try out something new. No single body would have been able to manage this alone, the Cultural Affairs Director is convinced. […] Those involved are now venturing forth "to play a leading role alongside international rivals in the uncompromising search for contemporary aesthetics". At the lab it would be possible to make good progress in this direction constituting "an important step towards strengthening contemporary performing arts with music, performance and theatre". A path along which the Ensemble Modern, The Forsythe Company, the Theaterakademie, the Musikhochschule and the Mousonturm all definitely wish to take young talent: This means, says Music Academy Head Rietschel, "in future young people will have the chance to gather lots of practical experience in both rehearsing and performing."
FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU 06/10/2009
YARDSTICK FOR BOTH THE ART SCENE AND THE REGION
Metropolitan Region Takes on Joint Projects at the kulturfonds
[…] Therefore it is primarily about: a region in central Europe known for its economic strength staking its claim […] Economic strength alone is not enough to make your mark. From the kulturfonds’ perspective it is also about creating projects of significance far beyond the limits of the conurbation. […] When opting in favour of the Laboratory of Modern Expression the city and region along with the kulturfonds had set such a pace making him "proud of the municipality as well as the entire region", said Dieter Buroch on Monday at the presentation of the Laboratory of Modern Expression. This means, added the Head of Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, "Frankfurt is once again forming an avantgarde scene."
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG RM 04/05/2010
W-LAN AND ÉLAN
Open Day in the Halls of the New Frankfurt LAB
[…] On the Open Day members of the public were able to take a look round Schauspiel Frankfurt’s former external venue that now serves five partners as a kind of "lab" for artistic experiments. "Space and Time" was the afternoon’s motto and this will also be the continuing theme for at least until the middle of 2013 – as the project is safeguarded until then: new premises and plenty of time for contemporary performing art, for the avantgarde and for productions others are not bold enough to carry out. For this the Ensemble Modern, the Mousonturm, The Forsythe Company, the Hessische Theaterakademie and the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst have joined forces in Frankfurt. And the program they put on for Saturday was certainly worth seeing. In both halls covering an area of almost 1,000 m2 there were installations, video art, dance and musical performances to be seen, there were discussion panels, in the café there were artist discussions as well as great apple cake for sustenance between tours around the halls. […]