Focus on the programme: “Biergerbühn”

Sasha Ley in "Der Besuch der alten Dame" ©Patrick Galbats

A fantastic shared theatre project

Whilst Biergerbühn (“citizens’ theatre”) is widely practised in Germany, the Esch-Alzette territory has until now lacked a place for meeting and sharing where local people can discover all the facets of the art of the stage, working in partnership with live-theatre professionals. The first Biergerbühn project was therefore mounted in 2017 by the collective Independent Little Lies (ILL), with the support of the city of Esch-Alzette, the Fondation Sommer and Kulturfabrik. This theatre project now allows “Bierger” citizens of all ages, cultures and origins to work with a team of professional artists. Together they create stage works from start to finish, in a collaborative process of co-creation: playwriting, stage work, costumes etc, including the technical and logistical aspects of each project.

In the framework of Esch2022, the collective Independent Little Lies (ILL), based on their regular weekly workshops with children, adolescents and adults at the Kulturfabrik (before moving to “Bâtiment IV” in the autumn of 2021), is opening the Biergerbühn to the largest number of people, to encourage access to theatre arts, even for those who rarely participate in cultural events. For Esch2022, the Biergerbühn has conceived two great projects:Der Besuch der alten Dame” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, directed by Claire Thill in co-production with the Escher Theatre (premiere 08/10/2021) and Doheem, a collaborative creation between the people and ILL professional artists, in residence at Bâtiment IV and with performances at the FerroForum, which will take place in 2022.

“Mixing an existing text with elements of documentary theatre and interdisciplinary cultural performance, we will rewrite Der Besuch der alten Dame (“The Visit”, 1955) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, bringing to the fore the social controversy surrounding the history of the Minett region.” “An arsenal of surprising similarities presents itself between the mining basin and the village of Güllen, where Dürrenmatt’s play takes place: the ‘glorious’ past, the present in which there is a certain disenchantment, the quest for a new image, as well as the desperate search for new investors. Other aspects of the play also have a striking contemporary resonance: the discussion of feminism, with the #MeToo movement, and the controversy about ‘Fake News’ are in a sense the thematic backbone of this project. In the play, the Güllen community takes the real main role. Dürrenmatt created 32 characters in all, the people of the village. These roles will be taken, sometimes as solos, sometimes as a ‘Greek chorus’, by citizens. In this process, the citizens will be in direct contact with a classic play, making it their own at the same time.”

The Doheem project, under the artistic direction of Elsa Rauchs and Claire Wagener, will be an almost documentary exploration of the city of Esch as a place to live, public space and historical site. In order to mount these two shows, ILL is launching an appeal for the participation of citizens who are curious about the world of live performance. The aim of this second project is an almost documentary exploration of the city of Esch as a place to live, public space and historical site. “It is in giving a place in daily life to culture that, together, all generations mixed, we can weave enduring social links, diversify the cultural landscape and propose an alternative to the social system.”

The exchange of ideas experienced during the workshops and the testimonies collected from the population will make up the content of the play. The professional artists will guide people to express the themes that are important to them, in the writing of texts as well as in putting them on stage. Collaboration with existing associations will help to bring value to the cultural and historical identity of the city of Esch-Alzette and its inhabitants. This collective show bringing together citizens and artists will be a REMIX opportunity for everyone and bring together different ways of life and of seeing the world, which are too often segregated.

In order to participate and to get a taste of the project, you are invited to take part in a public rehearsal of Der Besuch der alten Dame which will take place in the Escher Theatre on 25 September 2021, in the context of the “REMIX Festival”.
Independent Little Lies (ILL) is an interdisciplinary theatre collective that brings together theatre professionals, artists, teachers and those enthusiastic about the arts. Their productions and cultural events deal with contemporary and social concerns, in several languages. Their different shows defy the traditional limits of live theatre by giving emerging artists from the most diverse backgrounds the possibility of developing their creativity.

Practical information – theatre workshops ( [hyperlink]

Watch the Esch2022 film about this project: