Editorial by the festival direction

We are back again! With the onset of summer, public life has picked up in many European countries, so there are more encounters, more travelling, and larger audiences for the arts. And more Zürcher Theater Spektakel than last year as well! But what exactly have we come back to? Does this festival take place at the end of a disruption or at the beginning of a transformation?

During these special times, it has been even more of a privilege to prepare an arts festival in tandem with our international network. In conversations with artists worldwide, we have been continuously reminded of the bigger picture. Otherwise, we might have believed in the relevance of asking when the restaurants will open again. Many of the artists performing at the festival come from countries where, due to the unequal distribution, the population will not see any vaccines for quite some time. And this has not been the only reason for bewilderment in such conversations. For some of our international colleagues, it has been hard to understand why some wealthy European societies would accept full intensive care units rather than to protect the health of their citizens with more drastic measures.

The visual artist Vlatka Horvat and the theatre-maker Tim Etchells have asked 15 international artists what they deem worthy of our attention this summer, who needs to be given public space and what ideas deserve a monument, particularly in times like these. With this in mind, they have commissioned the creation of imaginary monuments on the Landiwiese during the festival. Since last year, artists have continuously found new ways to present their works without them being physically present. Royce Ng, for example, sends avatars from Hong Kong to our stage for «Presence». We are also continuing «Collective Listening», introduced last year, and have commissioned the Lebanese theatre-maker Chrystèle Khodr to create a work for this audio-format.

Among more than 30 international projects to be presented on our stages and in the Landiwiese, there are a remarkable 10 world premieres! They come, as things stand now, from places such as Hong Kong, Casablanca, Windhoek, Tokyo, Yogyakarta, London, Bogota and Zurich. A boat from the Columbian Pacific coast will land at the shores of Lake Zurich. It is part of a showcase by Mapa Teatro from Bogota. For more than 30 years, this company has portrayed Columbian society with its interdisciplinary art. Mapa Teatro’s confrontation with Columbia’s violent history has assumed new relevance following the current clashes. Several of the festival projects investigate the violence that people and nature are exposed to. Dorothée Munyaneza, Marina Otero and Mónica Calle demonstrate how, against all odds, the human body and communities are capable of remarkable vibrancy, virtuosity and resilience.

This year’s festival does not take place on the Landiwiese alone. Never before have there been so many cases of cooperation with other institutions of the city. We will present new pro- jects in collaboration with Fabriktheater, Theater Hora, Gessnerallee, Tanzhaus Zürich and Neumarkt. Some of them have been on hold during the long closure, while others are fresh co-productions with international artists affiliated with the festival.

The architecture of the festival site will take into account this year’s special conditions. We will set up only one of our temporary venues and very limited gastronomic services. Instead, there will be some projects in the public space and a new stage at the lakeshore. Street art will be offered in various districts of Zurich during the week and on the Landiwiese at the weekends. For all our venues, access rules in line with current regulations will apply. Relevant information is updated regularly on our website. It is our intent to ensure maximum safety while keeping the festival as accessible as possible. Given the current situation, this may involve some potential obstacles. If such is the outcome, please feel free to come to our info desk, where together we will figure out what to do.

With this festival, we look back on a year which in many parts of the world has been not just inconvenient, but continues to be devastating. At the same time, the Zürcher Theater Spektakel 2021 aims to create a moment of optimism, of joyful encounters and of international community. We are looking forward to meeting you again!

The festival direction
Matthias von Hartz, Sarah Wendle, Veit Kälin