Theater in Munich: Three premieres in one weekend – Munich

The last time Bonn Park directed at Munich’s Volkstheater, his evening came out on an unforgettable weekend of premieres. His high school opera “Gymnasium” was one of the opening productions of the new venue on Tumblingerstraße. Anyone interested in theater in Munich was somehow there. Bonn Park is now working on Tumblingerstrasse for the second time, and this time its production is also part of a strong premiere weekend.

Only this time the evenings are scattered throughout the city: Kammerspiele and Residenztheater each bring out a premiere. All three together will set many people in motion – and of course distribute them to the houses.

The first evening, January 27th, belongs solely to the Volkstheater and the world premiere of Bonn Park. Together with composer Ben Roessler, he has again decided on the format of a musical, this time with the title “Everything is over, but we have each other (underwater)”. Instead of a large cast, this time they work with just four musicians on harp, synthesizer, marimba and double bass. Park calls them the “Octopus Band” because each of them uses two arms of an octopus.

An underwater world in the Volkstheater: The world premiere of “Everything is over, but we have each other (underwater)” by director and author Bonn Park and composer Ben Roessler.

(Photo: Arno Declair)

This detail alone reveals that Park will once again be working with large sets. In “Gymnasium” he had already had opulent buildings built, high school furniture with a volcano in the background. Now everything should be “much more,” he says, an underwater world with set pieces from a lost civilization. Because that’s what it’s all about: an approaching end time. For the director, this reflects the current social feeling, this “feeling that you wake up in the morning and the world is ending”. Until recently, the opposite was dominant: years of economic boom, peace in Europe, economic growth. “The feeling that everything is getting better and better wasn’t that long ago,” says the director, who was born in Berlin in 1987.

What sounds so gloomy now, Park doesn’t want to bring gloomily to the stage. “I wanted to do something fun,” he says. So he does an interesting combination: He uses some elements of the episodic Love Actually, a romantic comedy from 2003 in which, as Park says, the attitude to life was different. The film, which airs every year around Christmas, tells several parallel love stories, including that of the British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and his maid (Martine McCutcheon). Also in Park’s “Everything is Over,” there’s this seemingly impossible love between Premier and an Empress, set in an underwater world of mermaids and mermen all trying to ignore the demise of their civilization. That all sounds – as in “Gymnasium” – pretty weird.

One day after the Volkstheater premiere, the Kammerspiele and the Residenztheater compete with each other. Both venues will take to the big stage on Saturday, January 28th with new productions. The Kammerspiel evening is already a success. Everything is sold out until the end of February. The obvious reason: “A scheene Leich” is by and with Gerhard Polt and the Well brothers, that has always drawn audiences to Maximilianstrasse.

This time it’s about death. The trigger for the story was the scandal surrounding the retirement home in Schliersee, in which massive care deficits came to light, says dramaturge Viola Hasselberg. However, the story that is now being staged is a purely fictional one, steeped in the personal experiences of Polt and the Well brothers in the village. “Energizing and at the same time nightmarish” is this, says Hasselberg. The focus is on the head of a funeral home who dies and now has to be buried. What happens to the legacy of the thriving business? Everyone has their own interests there. The deceased knew how to cooperate “very smoothly” with all those who have to do with the business of death. So it’s about a lot – and not always about the grief.

The result was a humorous, poetic, musical evening, a great satire on society and its non-existent culture of mourning, says the dramaturge. In addition to Polt, Stefan Merki and Maren Solty, there are various roles on the very changeable stage, as well as the Well brothers and an amateur choir. Unlike previous productions, this time Polt and the Well brothers have teamed up with director Ruedi Häusermann. “They wanted to challenge themselves again,” says Hasselberg. The Swiss resident studied economics and music, is a jazz musician and has already received awards for his musical theater evenings.

The grief must turn

Incidentally, “A scheene Leich” should not be confused with a beautiful corpse. What is meant here is a successful funeral, it is, as Polt says, “something funny, maybe even a booze, that has to turn, back to life. The grief has to turn into the fact that we live on.” And one more thing: This evening has nothing to do with the album of the same name “A scheene Leich”, which Polt and the Well brothers have already released, assures Hasselberg.

The premiere at the Residenztheater is not that far away, both thematically and geographically. Mateja Koležnik directs “Antigone” by Sophocles and incorporates Slavoj Žižek’s “The Three Lives of Antigone”. In the ancient drama, Antigone defies the ban on burying her brother, whereupon the ruler Creon sentences her to death. How is this to be interpreted, is Antigone’s act deeply committed to values, did she “keep sacred things sacred” or does she simply disregard laws that also apply to her?

Theater: The Residenztheater relies on the classic "Antigone".  Vassilissa Reznikoff (right) plays the title role, Linda Blümchen can be seen as Ismene.

The Residenztheater relies on the classic “Antigone”. Vassilissa Reznikoff (right) plays the title role, Linda Blümchen can be seen as Ismene.

(Photo: Sandra Then)

By including director Koležnik Žižek’s text, the first interpretation is at least not the only possible one. The pure Antigone is accompanied by an uncanny one. This consideration arose during the phase of the pandemic, in which some of course wore a mask and tested themselves, while others refused. At that time, the director is quoted as saying in the program booklet, she “thinked a lot about the effects of personal decisions on the community and above all about social responsibility”. This now flows into her production, which intervenes strongly in the ancient original, in which Vassilissa Reznikoff plays the title role and, for example, the choir breaks up into members of a parliament.

All in all, this XL theater weekend is one that deals with society, coexistence, responsibility, the end in a very different and probably exciting way and tells stories in the process. What more do you want? One thing, of course: maps. In most cases, these are for the following evenings.

“Everything is over, but we have each other (underwater)”premiere: Fri., Jan. 27, 7.30 p.m., Munich Volkstheater; “A beautiful corpse”world premiere, Sat., Jan. 28, 8 p.m., Kammerspiele; “Antigone”premiere: Sat., Jan. 28, 7.30 p.m., Residenztheater

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