Beijing Youth: The highest artistic concept of the Berliner Theatertreffen seems to be »innovation”. »Innovation” can surprise the audience through turning a classic drama into something »totally different”. However, being creative can also leave audience with the impression that the classic has been ruined and it’s no longer possible to recognize the origins of the work. So what is your opinion about »Innovation”? Compared with Russia and the UK’s theatrical interpretation skills applied to their cultural heritage, do you think German artists exhibit the strongest Avantgarde concepts in their theater productions?

Thomas Oberender: For the Berliner Festspiele, the institution that hosts the Theatertreffen, artistic innovation is one of the key principles. Our motto is: »Seeing what is coming”. The Berliner Festspiele invite and produce art works that cross boundaries, give us ideas of new ways to produce and experience theatre, visual art, music and installation projects. This said, the theatre performances for the Theatertreffen are being nominated by an autonomous jury. They travel around Germany, Switzerland and Austria, screen the field and nominate the productions they consider the most important from the previous season. In their selection, we can always see how tradition and innovation go together. Classic writers such as Shakespeare, Checkhov, Ibsen, Goethe, Brecht or Schiller remain very much present in the repertory. The audience knows their important plays very well; they are keen on seeing new, contemporary interpretations. So it’s not about ruining the classics, it’s about telling them from a modern point of view, and about researching their value for the future. Apart from that, there is a growing interest in different generations of artists for own creations that do not take the classics as a starting point. They collaborate with contemporary authors and create new texts, or they make a very visual or physical kind of theatre, sometimes using new technologies such as Virtual Reality. I think this combination of dealing with classics and creating ‘from scratch’ is typical for the German arts field nowadays. The horizon is very broad, and this wideness and liberty makes the landscape rich and diverse.