Two theatres founded in Eastern Berlin in the middle of the last century turned Berlin into the centre of political theatre in Europe. The Maxim Gorki Theatre, having shed nothing of its power in the last century, is still one of the most important representatives of political theatre, and has dedicated a broad two-month program to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
In the 20th century, as debates over form raged, theatre stages witnessed the emergence of a new movement almost every year. One of the most significant among them is the epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht, who is considered the pioneer of the form. Following Brecht’s foundation in 1949 of the ‘Berliner Ensemble’ on the shore of the Spree River with his wife Helene Weigel, it did not take long for a theatre troupe to be formed in opposition of the theories of this group. In 1952, the ‘Maxim Gorki Theatre’ was established by those who, in opposition to Brecht, conveyed the idea of ‘socialist realism’ developed by Russian author Maxim Gorki in the field of literature to the stage. As the distinctions between theatre movements are blurred, the two most important stages of political theatre in Europe continue to produce ‘art for the people’ since the day they were founded. In this context, the dedication of the Gorki Theatre of its March and April program to the centennial of the Armenian Genocide is not surprising, but highly significant.
From March 7 to April 25, within the scope of the program titled ‘Es schneit im April: Eine Passion und ein Osterfest’ (It snows in April: Passion and Easter) a great number of artists and academicians from across the world have been invited to Berlin to present their own viewpoints on the subject of Armenian history and survival. This series of events that will continue for more than 40 days features, in addition to theatre plays and performances, film screenings, concerts, conferences and talks.
The program opens with the keynote speech of journalist Harout Ekmanian on 7 March, and the premiere of the documentary theatre ‘Musa Dagh: Tage des Widerstands’, (Musa Dagh: Days of Resistance) adapted by Hans Werner Kroesinger from Franz Werfel’s novel ‘The Forty Days of Musa Dagh’ is the stand-out event of the day. Kroesinger’s 2007 play titled ‘History Tilt’ will also be re-staged on March 12 for this programme. The play focuses on the assassination in 1921 of Talat Pasha by Sologhmon Tehlirian.
On the opening night, Marc Sinan’s lecture performance titled ‘Komitas war Osmane, so wahr ich Europaer bin’ (Komitas was an Ottoman, just like I am an European) will also meet the viewer. Arto Tunçboyacıyan and Ara and Onnik Dinkjian will also present concerts in Berlin within the scope of the events.
‘Anrufung - Ein filmisches Memorial’, (The Call: A Memorial in Film) a film series on the Armenian Genocide curated by Fred Kelemen featuring films compiled from across the world is also included. These films also include the 1919-film titled ‘Ravished Armenia’ known as the first film on the Genocide. Atom Egoyan’s video installation ‘Aurora’ is also part of the program, and his renowned film ‘Ararat’ will also be screened.
Canadian actress Arsinée Khanjiyan, dancer Mihran Tomasyan, director Lusin Dink and Chairperson of Anadolu Kültür Osman Kavala are among those invited to Berlin. An exhibition curated by the Argentinean Armenian artist will be open throughout the programme.
The names of the 235 artists and intellectuals forcibly gathered from their homes on the night of 23 April 1915 will be commemorated on April 24 with the performance of singer Kim Seligsohn.