The start of the Esch2022 theatrical season
On 13 July, upon returning from Avignon Festival, Françoise Poos, Cultural Programme Director, and Melissa Grozinger, Cultural Programme – Performing Arts at Esch2022, were invited by the Grand Est region to present the roundtable conference ‘Esch2022, European Capital of Culture – Spotlight on the performing arts’ at La Caserne (an emblematic venue in the Grand Est). They were accompanied by Bernard Baumgarten, Artistic Director of TROIS C-L – Centre de Création Chorégraphique Luxembourgeois, and Lawrence Rollier, Communications Officer at the Escher Theater, both partners of Esch2022 projects. One of the objectives of the delegation’s journey was to unveil part of the performing arts (theatre and dance) programme of the European Capital of Culture. The performing arts are an essential part of the programme, which will be implemented in partnership with institutions and companies from Luxembourg (Escher Theater, TROIS CL, Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Kulturfabrik, to name but a few) and the CCPHVA (L’Arche de Micheville, a.o.) as well as institutions from the Grand Est such as the Théâtre National de Strasbourg (shows for young audiences) and NEST – Centre Dramatique National transfrontalier de Thionville (through a new production around cross-border commuting).
Projects carried out in collaboration with institutions
The contribution of the Escher Theater to the Esch2022 programme is divided into three parts. Firstly, a programme for ‘Young Audiences’ will be scheduled throughout the 2022/23 season, unfolding mainly at the former Ariston Cinema. Secondly, the theatre festival ‘D’Autres Histoires’, scheduled for May 2022, will be developed in partnership with Passages Transfestival-Metz and L’Arche de Micheville, with the aim to transcend geographic and narrative boundaries. The third part, entitled ‘Panorama’, will bring together productions of the Escher Theater with plays selected as part of an Esch2022 call for projects. A collection of diverse original productions, ‘Panorama’ is conceived as an eclectic mix that is adopting various angles to explore the identity of the people who live and work in the Esch2022 region. In line with the ‘REMIX’ theme, ‘Idiomatic’ by the Brussels collective Tranquinquennal will address multilingualism; ‘En Escher Jong’, a project by Frank Feitler with André Jung and Luc Feit, will delve into the history and culture of Luxembourg through the life and work of the famous Luxembourgian actor René Deltgen, before and after the Second World War; ‘ARTraverse – FLAMENCOtre’, a series of three flamenco shows presented at the Escher Theater and the Kulturfabrik, will examine the complex contemporary realities of Hispanic culture. The ‘Panorama’ productions and co-productions created in Esch and beyond will subsequently tour to France, Lithuania, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal and Germany.
Creating spaces for dialogue with the public
Inclusion, participation and sustainability are key aspects of all Esch2022 programmes, including in the performing arts. A good example is the work by KompleX KapharnaüM, a Villeurbanne-based company well known for its artistic research in urban spaces. Concluding a nearly two-year-long collaboration that includes the digital residency ‘Fenêtre Ouverte’ in December 2020 and the series of on-site residencies ‘Arpentages’ from May 2021 to March 2022, their project ‘BLOOM’ is centred on the region and its inhabitants. The first presentation of their findings will revolve around the notion of conviviality and is scheduled to take place in December 2021. It will be followed by the highlight of their contribution, a grand presentation in Esch in spring 2022. Numerous other performing arts projects will also emphasise a participatory approach, such as ‘Totem – un Sens Commun’ and ‘Visage’.
Inspired by English and American musical comedies, ‘Totem – un Sens Commun’ is inspired by a short story written by Laurent-Guillaume Dehlinger, adapted for the stage by Andrew Todd and produced by The Company Deracinemoa. A large-scale production (for 5,000 to 10,000 spectators), this multilingual and participatory philosophical tale will be performed by artists from various disciplines (actors, singers, musicians, dancers, acrobats). Recounting the collective experience of mass exile, the scenic performance at Carreau de la Mine in Audun-le-Tiche will explore the relationships between the individual and the group in the public realm. Conjuring diverse creative forces, it will revolve around a series of key gestures: changing, turning away, leaving, starting all over again…together. Spectators will be seated between four six-metre-high wooden totem poles, engaging in a process of co-creation across theatre, music and dance. ‘Visage’ is a philosophical and theatrical project advocating the fundamental values at the heart of the European project, which takes its cue from the writings of the great Franco-Lithuanian philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. The piece, which establishes a link between two European Capitals of Culture, will be performed in French language at Esch2022 and in Lithuanian language at Kaunas2022. A universal ethical value, ‘the face’, according to Levinas, ‘is what prohibits us from killing’. ‘Visage’ explores the philosopher’s fundamental concept in the form of a theatrical performance and a shared photographic and visual experience.
Stimulating co-creation with children
The face is also the theme of a photographic project specifically aimed at school children. Portrait photographs accompanied by texts written by the participants will be exhibited in public places in Esch and Kaunas. Other educational projects also adopt a participatory approach, such as the collaboration with the Théâtre National de Strasbourg or the project ‘Déi Wëll danzen am Bësch’ (The Savages Are Dancing in the Forest), a contemporary circus staging by the duo Mara Daro and Ole Schöne. Children from both sides of the border will be invited to listen to, imagine and reconstruct the stories that can be heard along the Minett-Trail, which runs partly through forests.
Literary meetings around a Stammdësch
Join us in reimagining the world as part of the ‘RDV STAMMDËSCH – C’était mieux demain’, a literary project based on author residencies led by the collective of cross-border playwrights Le Gueuloir in partnership with the company La Spirale. Set around a table of regulars, or Stammdësch, it will encourage ordinary citizens to express themselves along the theme ‘It was better tomorrow. Invent your urban legends and share them to enable us to imagine new worlds’. In villages and towns that have in the recent past seen their traditional Stammdësch disappear, the public will be invited to reappropriate real or imaginary places by giving them a new voice and tracing possible futures.