Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with PanOptikum, a theatre ensemble based in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.
My relationship with the producer Matthias Rettner of Pan Optikum actually began 5 years ago when Chantal Mailhac (fellow Clown Me In member) and myself were performing Whispered Tales in Portugal. Pan Optikum were doing a huge street production so Matthias was there and able to catch our show. He loved it and invited us to work with the theatre one day.
5 years later and here we are! Matthias contacted me and asked me to take part in PanOptikum’s project entitled ‘Power of Diversity – The Crossing Lines’. I was invited to Freiburg on 3 separate occasions for 9 days each where I worked with youth and refugees to develop the piece HOCHWASSERZUKUNFT (High Water Future) which was co-directed by Sigrun Fritsch.
I had a fantastic time working with the group who were enthusiastic and great collaborators! We had the pleasure of working in the big and beautiful PanOptikum workshop space ordinarily used for building their sets. Working on a German text was a challenge for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I was able to focus more on the physical performance and stage presence. Sigrun did the rest and most of the amazing work
In February, the show was finally performed for two nights on the small stage of the Freiburg Theatre to a completely packed audience on both nights!
My final week in Frieburg, I performed Whispered Tales in two cafes. Whispered Tales is a collection of Lebanese and Syrian stories told alongside musical accompaniment and enjoyed with Lebanese coffee and thyme and oil. The performances in Freiburg were particularly exciting because I teamed up with students from UCW Freiburg. I spent three hours at their school telling them stories with students improvising the accompanying music and then three of the students offered to perform with me in the cafes!
So, together with Imelda, Donovan and Katja, we spent three hours rehearsing and then set off for our first performance. It took place in a small local café with an audience of about 40. The second night we performed at the theatre café before the main performance where we attracted an audience of 150 people! Both shows were a huge success, so thank you Imelda, Donovan and Katja for taking part and being so wonderful!
All photographs credit to Felix Groteloh