Undernational Affairs is a new theatre network that was founded in the summer of 2016 in the garden of Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater. The network views itself as an international alliance of smaller and medium-sized political theatre institutions which have allied in the fight against right-wing, conservative, neo-nationalist and racist currents in Europe.
The members of Undernational Affairs in Athens, Berlin, Chişinău, Istanbul, Kiev, Sofia and Zurich are united by the will to resist ideological thought. For them, the freedom of art includes the defense of the right to express artistic criticism, and the freedom from censorship. Together they demand that democratic mechanisms be established and respected throughout Europe. The members are committed to contemporary political art, as well as a common search for new aesthetic styles, voices, and working methods. "Undernational" means: an attitude which critically scrutinizes the nation as a model of social order. Opposing the advent of nationalism, we seek to establish a trans-local awareness towards the conflict zones in the world.
The network members are: Studio Я (Berlin), a platform and arts asylum for discussion, music and creative processes associated with the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin‘s historic centre, the Experimental stage / -1 (Athens), newly formed under the artistic direction of Anestis Azas and Prodromos Tsinikoris in October 2015, GalataPerform (Istanbul), an institution of the alternative art scene in Istanbul, the Theatre of Displaced People (Kiev) which has worked for years with forms of documentary theatre – mainly in the Eastern regions of Ukraine –, the independent socio-cultural Red House Centre for Culture and Debate (Sofia), focussing on the connection of art and discourse formats, Theater Neumarkt (Zurich), under the artistic direction of Peter Kastenmüller since the 2013/14 season, and the political art space Teatru Spălătorie (Chisinau), led by author Nicoleta Esinencu.
What can theatre make in 24 hours? On the first Friday after New Year's, six directors and writers, actors and their audience meet at the foyer bar in Studio Я at 10 pm. Together, we think about relevant theatre: how can art change society, which stories are unheard and must be told? Literally over night, six writers put the thoughts expressed into their own text form, which is subsequently transformed into six productions by the directors and ensembles within a few hours: 24 hours after their first meeting, the audience experiences six short premieres in a row. In this season, the newly-formed European theatre network Undernational Affairs sends artists from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Switzerland and Turkey to Berlin for a special edition of our now legendary happening format.
Four authors traveled to cities in the eastern part of Ukraine, bringing together high school students and Ukrainian soldiers to speak about their feelings and fears, about their anger and hopes against each other – in an quite unusual protected environment. Director Georg Genoux, who was awarded the Grand Prix Generation 14plus at the 2017 Berlinale for his new documentary Shkola No. 3, will present the collection of texts in a staged reading. How can we speak about a war which has become a part of everyday life in Ukraine and which we know so little about in Germany?
Theater artists from Sofia, Athens and Istanbul use documentary approaches to dig into the history of waves of displacement and ethnic cleansings which shook the Eastern Balkans during and after WW I and continue to shape it today.