"We should celebrate life and art" – Season Opening HELLERAU 14.09.2018

“What a start! Touching theatre with content, recollection and full topicality. A German premiere, which was certainly not brought to HELLERAU for this reason, not as an end in itself. The new artistic director Carena Schlewitt proved her courage and attitude by inviting the production “War and Turpentine” by Jan Lauwers and the Belgian Needcompany to Dresden.” The DNN drew this result after our opening of the 2018/2019 season on 14.09.2018. The evening was also framed by opening speeches by the artistic director Carena Schlewitt, the cultural mayor Annekatrin Klepsch (Die Linke) and the art minister Eva-Maria Stange (SPD). All speeches have one thing in common: The aim is to preserve the freedom of art and to promote coexistence among all people from a HELLERAU reputation. 

Now you can read the opening speech of the artistic director Carena Schlewitt here: 

Dear guests of the evening,

HELLERAU – the European Centre of the Arts and also the Festspielhaus Hellerau would not exist without the arts and without the visionaries who promoted, supported and also accompanied the arts. HELLERAU is a house for artists. And I can tell you that last Sunday we, the HELLERAU team, were already very happy, almost exhilarated, to have many Dresden artists in our house on the day of the open monument to our Spielzeitfest. Artistic work is a hard profession, a permanent process of search, a process marked by success and failure, a process of collective work as well as loneliness. And: With the decision to work professionally in art, artists consciously take risks in their private lives. It is important for me to express my appreciation of art, its processes and its makers as an introduction to my new task. Now art, especially in the performative arts – dance, theatre, music, performance – is bound to include the audience. With our season programme, we will only be getting to know the Dresden audience in the coming weeks and months. Based on my experience to date, I am convinced that the breadth and versatility of contemporary art can attract and inspire an equally broad audience. By this I also mean very different formats in the encounter between artist*in and visitor*in. An open house without a grandstand, flooded with light from the Portikus, through the festival hall to the garden, and a performance throughout the house, as on the day of the open monument, perhaps attracts other visitors than a choreography, a concert, a staging that addresses an audience frontally in a closed room, or as a performative walk with an artist collective through the garden city of Hellerau. This diversity, these forms bring contemporary art with them and involve the audience in ever new situations, experiencing art not only as art, but also in different social constellations. Every audience situation can also involve risks – encounters cannot work out or even take place in the first place. But they can also trigger a lot emotionally, socially and culturally. I think that the encounter with the audience must be more than the question of the number of visitors – however much I like to have full halls, a full house. We won’t be able to get to know every visitor, but we would like to get into conversation with each other. And a culture of conversation about art is always also a culture of conversation about society. Now I have described HELLERAU as a house of artists and audiences. But the house also stands as a cultural institution in today’s society and is part of that society – in Dresden, in Saxony, in Germany and in the world. Even if this may sound a little full-bodied, we are networked and connected with many partners at home and abroad. In recent weeks and months I have had many conversations with Dresden actors, partners and institutions and I have great hopes that together we will not only set one but many signs for a pluralistic, diverse society, for a life in peace and for social coexistence. It is very alarming that these self-evident aspects of human coexistence still have to be repeated every day and increasingly so – not only here in Germany, but in many countries and cities. We should celebrate life and art with many people, and that too is a political sign, a sign against exclusion and hatred. At this point I would like to say a few words about today’s play of the evening “War and Turpentine” or “My Grandfather’s Heaven”, as the title of the first German translation of the book is called. Stefan Hertmans wrote this novel as a tribute to his grandfather. The story runs in parts parallel to the project to build the Festspielhaus HELLERAU: Here the vision and the leap into modernity, there the human struggle with industrialisation and above all the confrontation with the First World War. But with all the difficult experiences and experiences, there is always the existential longing for art. It is this perspective that impressed me so much in the congenial realization of the Needcompany with the great narrator/actress Viviane De Muynck. With this in mind, I wish you a stimulating evening. Last but not least, I would like to thank the supporters of HELLERAU – European Centre of the Arts, first and foremost the City of Dresden. It’s a great stroke of luck that the city of Dresden supports and promotes a house like HELLERAU. I would also like to thank the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, who supports HELLERAU within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses. And we are extremely pleased about the support of many partners and foundations this season, of which I can only name a few here: the Federal Agency for Political Education, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony, the Free State of Saxony, the National Performance Network, the Dresden Foundation for Art and Culture of the Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden, the Foundation for Art and Music for Dresden, the Förderverein Hellerau e.V. and many more. And everything that takes place in HELLERAU and has to do with HELLERAU would not be possible without the great commitment of all employees who approach the challenging tasks with commitment and a good atmosphere day after day. For this I would like to express my sincere thanks!