Helena Waldmann Company | Berlin
Good Passports Bad Passports
concept, choreography, sets: Helena Waldmann
dramaturgy: Tobias Staab
costumes: Judith Adam
light design: Herbert Cybulska
technical director: Carsten Wank
premiere: Theater im Pfalzbau Ludwigshafen, 2017
actobats, dancers: Danica Hilton, Sara Enrich Bertran, Antonia Modersohn, Chris Jäger, Tjorm Palmer, Lysandre Coutu-Sauvé, Carlos Zaspel, Declan Whitaker
production: Helena Waldmann and ecotopia dance productions
coproduction: Theater im Pfalzbau Ludwigshafen, Hessisches Staatsballett/Tanzplattform Rhein-Main, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Colours International Dance Festival Stuttgart, Kaserne Basel, Kurtheater Baden, FFT Düsseldorf, Tafelhalle Nürnberg
supported by: Committee for Dance and Theater of the cantons Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft
Every stage represents a border. This was radically overstepped on December 11th, 2014, in the theatre of the French Institute in Afghanistan, by a Taliban-organized suicide bomb attack. It happened during the performance of the piece "Heartbeat: The Silence after the Blast." The explosion was followed by a panicky silence. What had occurred was a politically motivated border violation that collided cruelly with an aesthetic experience also on the borderline. The connotations of a borderline experience are usually strangely positive. Whereas a border could be counted a relic of the bygone constitution of national entities, which regularly led to military confrontations. The current re-establishment of borders within the EU supersedes the pacifistic purpose of the founding fathers such as Walter Hallstein or Francois Mitterand ("Le nationalisme, c'est la guerre"). Thus we see the rebirth of national entities in Europe as well as the birth of unbridgeable differences within those 'divided nations'.
Committing herself on a global scale, dance director Helena Waldmann is going to cross boarders once again, this time with "Good Passports Bad Passports". Following her sensational dance piece "Made in Bangladesh" on the economic parallels between factory workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry and artists in the West, her new production shows the connection between national borders and the longing for closed communities. It is a piece for two companies - one contemporary dance company, one from the world of nouveau cirque. They are separated by a wall made of human beings. These people who are cast locally represent the border. The border defines the company, and it limits freedom of movement. In contrast to information, goods and money, people without the right passports are not allowed to cross the border. The choreography uses the means of theatre to visualize the mechanisms of this exclusion. Waldmann chose the title "Good Passports Bad Passports" because you can associate one company with countries like Afghanistan or Syria, where territorial conflicts have made the value of their passports plummet, whereas the other company could be Europe, Canada or the USA, whose passports enjoy the highest reputation and guarantee practically complete freedom of movement for their holders. This performance is a deliberate cross-border project that involves seven co-producing theaters in Switzerland, Luxemburg and Germany and it is meant to prompt a debate on how we take our borders for granted and how nationalism stops people almost unwittingly from making free choices and thinking outside the "closed shop".
Helena Waldmann! The globetrotter of dance: Even by the standards of a thoroughly international scene, her sphere of action could scarcely be wider. Working at the interface between stage direction, choreography and sociological field research, Helena Waldmann produces, tours and commits herself on a global scale - from the Middle East and Latin America, to Asia and Africa. Her sure sense of the ever-existing contradictions of our lives and the fragility of our good fortune acts as her artistic compass. This is why Helena Waldmann's pieces are so touching. They aim at changing the audience and regularly address social and political issues. Waldmann's desire to fully immerse herself in different cultures and still maintain a critical distance is tangible in all her works. Her subjects range from the frightening, anarchic freedom of Alzheimer's syndrome ("revolver besorgen") and the sensual game of dependency ("Burka Bondage") to women in Islamic countries, apparently so restricted, but so free inwardly ("Return to Sender"). The project ensembles she tends to cast on site give an authenticity and intensity to her pieces. However, producing and directing do not seem to be sufficient to fully absorb Helena Waldmann's energies. Workshops and teaching assignments lead this extraordinary cultural activist to institutions and universities all over the world. Waldmann's intelligent and gripping works have won numerous awards and the greatest acclaim of audiences in Germany and abroad.