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Interview with Holger Schultze and Jürgen Popig

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Interview with Holger Schultze and Jürgen Popig
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Differences First Become Clear When You Move Together

Berlin, April 2009. Theatre manager Holger Schultze and his scenario editor Jürgen Popig are in Berlin for the afternoon especially for an interview in Kreuzberg's "Textetage", where the editor Simone Kaempf has her office. Schultze, who has been managing the Osnabrück theatre since 2005 and was chief producer in Augsburg and Bremerhaven, was born in Berlin. Friendly and casually dressed in a T-shirt (black of course, like his trousers), he tends to speak more quietly and quickly towards the end of his sentences. Perhaps because his mind has already jumped forward to the next topic, or maybe because he prefers an impulsive answer to a meticulous one. In any case he appears to be quite at ease. Popig seems just as relaxed and really prefers asking questions himself, rather than giving answers. Like Schultze he was born in 1961 and comes from Swabia, and was at the Stuttgart National Theatre for 12 years before going to Osnabrück in 2005. There are some biscuits on the table, and water is preferred to coffee on this hot day in Berlin on May 1st. Micro on. (peko) This September you're beginning your season with a show concerning German premieres. What makes European drama so important to Osnabrück?

Holger Schultze: We want to raise the awareness of the problems with contemporary theatre in a programmatic way with the Spieltriebe festival. Four years ago the problems concerned premieres, two years ago second performances, and now we realise that the German theatre and feature pages hardly deal with foreign theatre literature at all.

Jürgen Popig: There are many good authors in Germany who finish their writing workshops and are quickly discovered by theatres and bound to them. Rebekka Kricheldorf and Dirk Laucke are our own writers.

The result of this is that theatres loose their capacity to look around for new plays abroad. This becomes clear if you take a look at the statistics of the German Stage Association: The amount of German premieres has gone up as it does every year, but proportionally the amount of premieres has gone down. So has the flourishing of German performances lead to an unawareness of European productions?

Jürgen Popig: Not generally speaking. There are still regular festivals which feature productions from across Europe, such as the biannual film festival in Wiesbaden or the "Theatre of the World" festival. The German Endowment for Culture explicitly supports the exchange between European stages with their Wanderlust fund. We're taking part in it with the Drama Theatre in the Bulgarian town Russe. But in our opinion more needs to be done than a mere visit and a guest performance for a proper exchange between countries. We think one a closer look should be taken at the plays that are performed, translate them and consider if they would be interesting for German stages. This way of dealing with foreign literature has clearly decreased.