Wanna Play? Dries Verhoeven and the Limits of Non-Professional Performance

Michael Bachmann


In October 2014, Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer (HAU)—one of Germany’s most influential performance venues, programming and often co-producing work by artists such as Rimini Protokoll, Jérôme Bel, Meg Stuart and Gob Squad—opened its new season with a festival called Treffpunkte (meeting points).1 Conceptually, the month-long festival was located at the intersection of some of the major trends in contemporary Western theatre and performance, particularly the interest ‘in curating intimacy in public’ (Walsh 2014: 57; Read 2008), the renegotiation of theatre’s place in the public sphere (Balme 2014; Haedicke 2013) and the relation of socially engaged performance, in the broadest sense, to late global capitalism (Jackson 2011; Harvie 2013). Its explicit aim was to explore, through the means of performance, ‘the status of the private in the public sphere’ (den Status des Privaten in der öffentlichen Sphäre) and to find out whether ‘intimacy’ (Intimität)—equated with an authentic ‘communication between people’ (Kommunikation zwischen Menschen)—was still possible ‘in an age where the public space has been entirely pervaded by market conformity’ (im Zeitalter der totalen Durchdringung des öffentlichen Raumes durch das Marktförmige) (Vanackere 2014: 2).2

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