Dr. Ulrike Hartung hat als Rednerin bei der Jahrestagung der International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) teilgenommen, die vom 24.-28. Juli 2023 in Accra, Ghana stattgefunden hat. Gemeinsam mit Anja Quickert sprach sie über : “So I Go Hunting for Witches.” Myths Of Womanhood in German Contemporary Independent Theatre.
This paper makes the immanent connection between working conditions and aesthetics within German contemporary independent theatre a subject of discussion. It specifically highlights female artists and the questions of physical autonomy and integrity, motherhood and related reproductive rights as well as of gender-based discrimination they raise – by and within their work. Receiving the least amount of financial contribution and essentially as short-term, project-based funding for independent theatre makers it is equally important to demonstrate “aesthetic innovation” and “social relevance” of their work. Looking at two concrete examples deriving from different performative aesthetics – music theatre and performance – we would like to trace the extent to which these questions are dealt with on and off stage.
- In September 2020, the feminist collective She She Pop released “Hexploitation”: “Loosely based on Hollywood”. The production deals with the fear of the ‘hag’ – the old woman and her unproductive body. Around the horror and distorted images of ageing acting divas, the US film industry Hollywood developed a specific horror genre, founded in 1962 by the film „What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?“. The collective transfers this setting to the stage, makes its own ageing body the object of contemplation and reflection in order to deconstruct the figure and the myth of the witch. In doing so, the collective borrows from the cultural-historical analysis „Caliban and the witch. Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation“ (2004) by Silvia Federici. The production also focuses on a critical examination ofs own working conditions in a patriarchal social context: „If I hadn’t created a job for myself, I would have disappeared from this stage.”
- The independent production of “Dein Oxy” (“Your Oxy”) refers to Oxytocin, a natural hormone that manages key aspects of the female (and male) reproductive systems, including labour and delivery and lactation, as well as aspects of human behaviour. The piece was developed and produced collectively by a team of 13 female artists in Hamburg, problematizing the topics of womanhood already mentioned on stage as well as in their production practices. Being what we claim to be postdramatic music theatre it does so by also questioning conventional practices of the female singing voice and women’s physical performance in general. Elaborating on specific feminist methods of music theatre making we will discuss to what extent.