Approaching GERMAN STAATSTHEATER from a different angle

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Drawing from ugly feelings and imposing arts institutions, Rosie Sommers and Micha Goldberg join to fuse these concepts in 'GERMAN STAATSTHEATER'. Graduates of KASK and RITCS, respectively, Rosie and Micha met at Volksroom, a performance art off-space in Brussels. We had a chance to talk with them about their work together, and their new project, which opens at Les Halles de Schaerbeek on 08 - 09.02.2024, during the 'It Takes a City' performance arts festival in Brussels.

Your new project together is called 'GERMAN STAATSTHEATER'. Could you tell me a bit about it? How did the idea come about?

Rosie: You want to?

Micha: Should I start?

R: Yeah, you start!

M: It originated from the performance organism, Ne Mosquito Pas, which ended this autumn, where we worked around bad taste, guilty pleasure, and failure. While we were working around this, GERMAN STAATSTHEATER somehow came up.

R: Ne Mosquito Pas is a platform where many artists from different backgrounds can make a short solo performance. I think 50 solos were made, in total, over the past four years. We wanted to do GERMAN STAATSTHEATER with all these people performing this piece, but that didn’t work out because it would’ve cost too much money. [Laughs] So, yeah, we did it step by step and now we are with 13 performers who all made a Ne Mosquito Pas solo.

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M: Ne Mosquito Pas is somehow individual, but individuality together in the collective. Meanwhile, GERMAN STAATSTHEATER is a collective work in the sense that it’s Rosie and me who organise and do it. But what comes out is really a collective, group work.

R: Yeah, it’s based on group actions, on different elements that come forth out of our imagination around the GERMAN STAATSTHEATER , that is really there in Germany. From these elements, we build actions, and that’s what we do with the group, basically. So, it’s a performance piece, a group piece.

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Is the performance of 'GERMAN STAATSTHEATER' in German?

M: Yes but it’s subtitled.

R: And it’s not in correct German. It’s German that we kind of created. In the beginning, we did it with two. So, a lot of text comes from us two speaking together in a language that we both don’t really speak. But we managed to understand each other. [Laughs] Most of it is action-based but language is also very important because it’s a lot about somehow …

M: … performing a feeling, or an emotion. The language, in one way, is not so important, but it’s also very important. Actually, the base of what we started up was ugly feelings, which are seven different, not-cathartic feelings.

R: I took it from a book, by Sianne Ngai, who wrote about these ugly feelings, which are…

M: … envy, paranoia, anxiety, animatedness…

R: … disgust, irritation, sublimity...

M: … This in-between state, it’s almost like apathy, but not really.

R: We wanted to combine our idea of the GERMAN STAATSTHEATER, the big theatre, the exaggeration of emotions, with these ugly feelings. So we try to mix those and build actions on them that were coming from this strange imagination around these huge theatre machines, let’s say. Out of that came a lot of material. 

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/65ae82661333ff59d488c317__Jonas_Reubens_DC_MICHA_ROSIE-03.jpg"/>

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We wanted to combine our idea of the GERMAN STAATSTHEATER, the big theatre, the exaggeration of emotions, with these ugly feelings

You’ve both ended up in Brussels. How do you find working on your art in this city?

R & M: We love it! [Laugh]

R: It’s funny because on the bike, we were saying: ‘Ah, this is really my city’. Yeah, it’s kind of good for artists. I also feel like it’s an open city. There are lots of possibilities here to try out stuff, much more than in Amsterdam or Paris or something, like these other big cities. Brussels is a very nice city, actually, to try and figure out stuff, and do that for years. 

M: I like it. I wouldn’t stay in Belgium if it weren't for Brussels. There are a lot of things happening in different communities. Maybe the institutions could be a little more dirty, like to try out things and not have this super beautiful façade all the time and just show shit. That would be great. It would be even more fun.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/65ae8264eee55f3e562e45ba__Jonas_Reubens_DC_MICHA_ROSIE-04.webp"/>

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Brussels is a very nice city, actually, to try and figure out stuff, and do that for years

R: That’s the only problem, I feel, that with the institutions, it's very unreachable. 

M: In general, it takes time, and it doesn’t need to. They can loosen up the system.

R: Yeah, it stays a bit rigid. Every theatre has to have this kind of identity and a political agenda. But, for example, Het Bos in Antwerp is actually very nice, it’s very fast.

M: Yeah, the spirit of a space, you sometimes just feel it’s heavy. You go into a theatre and it’s heavy. Why? [Laughs]

Is there a discipline or artistic medium that you haven’t explored yet that you would like to delve into?

R: We want to make a movie, no?

M: Yeah, we want to make a video!

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/65ae82637250ccd9998e2a32__Jonas_Reubens_DC_MICHA_ROSIE-12.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/65ae8265ae392e54d2da7a66__Jonas_Reubens_DC_MICHA_ROSIE-13.webp"/>

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @sommersrosie / @michasamateurtheater / @halles.be </div></div>

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