Welcome to the Theater Festival Basel!

Dear audiences, festival friends and fans,

This year’s festival programme was basically in the bag when the coronavirus outbreak struck. It soon became obvious that the festival would not be able to go ahead as planned. Actually, we were on the verge of cancelling the whole thing when the situation started to improve and we decided, without too much hesitation, to put together an analogue festival. We want to offer a platform for live art and to enable you to meet artists whose existence is threatened like never before. We want to create spaces for personal interaction, in a way only theatre can.

We’re kicking things off with the impossible: With the voices of artists from Rio to Manila, from Johannesburg to Tehran. They’re the ones worst hit by the pandemic and who receive little or no state support. They’ve all come up with five-minute pieces that have been turned into a radio ballet by the artist collective LIGNA. Wearing headphones, you’re invited to come and dance together on the Kasernenwiese. Moving on from a world of sound, you’ll enter a world of vision: Ho Tzu Nyen’s «Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia» is a gigantic multimedia archive. Between A for Anarchism and Z for Zombies, «R for Resonance» opens up the door to a complex virtual world. Audio and virtual reality installations roll out the carpet for theatrical and choreographic journeys that can be experienced live over the next twelve days.

Syrian choreographer Mithkal Alzghair opens his work «Déplacement» as an isolated figure, fragile and uncertain. How do you get your feet back on the ground after being displaced? How do I start to live my life in a foreign country? The piece highlights a still extremely painful crisis, the war in Syria, and the desperate situation of refugees. Something that has almost been forgotten at times due to the coronavirus crisis.

Solo performances play a key role at this year’s festival. Sharing very personal and intimate stories, you’ll be taken on a journey deep into Korean cultural history and along labyrinthine pathways to the universe of a brilliant forger and the homes of Italian senior citizens who are cared for by Ukrainian nurses.

In «Du Sale!», the young performer Laëtitia Kerfa and the dancer Janice Bieleu combine unrestrained narrative enthusiasm and rousing rap to take us on a music and dance trip towards self-determination. The theme of self-determination is also the focal point in Rimini Protokoll’s production «Chinchilla Arschloch, waswas». Three performers with Tourette’s syndrome transform an unrepeatable evening of theatre into a truly magical live event.

A real-life trip is offered by the festival’s Outdoor Parcours: It starts on Birsfeld power station island with twelve performers and the choreographer Yasmine Hugonnet, who playfully gets you thinking about the way you normally view things. Via Museum Tinguely, where the Lebanese performer Khouloud Yassine knocks Arab heroes off their pedestals, we reach Theaterplatz, where the Brazilian performer Volmir Cordeiro lets us rediscover everyday urban life.

The world’s most beautiful and enchanting circus awaits you at Rosentalanlage! Yes, of course that’s slightly exaggerated – but then again it’s not: The world into which Bonaventure Gacon and Titoune take you in their beautiful two-mast tent is characterised by heady emotions and dazzling charm.

But back to the solo performances: All the roles are played by just one actor in a extremely clever adaptation. This is the simple and efficient recipe for «Phèdre!», arguably one of the finest French dramas. And last but not least, the grand finale: On the last three days of the festival, nine self-portraits by members of the new ensemble of Theater Basel celebrate their premiere in a performance staged by the Argentinian director Lola Arias. Running parallel to that, Oona Doherty uses her highly energetic solo to dissect images of masculinity, of chavs, smicks and thugs, while Florentina Holzinger creates a stunning, scenic experience along with eight naked ballerinas and two flying motorbikes in «TANZ».

We look forward to welcoming you to the various venues, which all accommodate safe seating, and to the newly designed festival centre at the Kaserne site!

Sandro Lunin and the whole festival team
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