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Johan Simons – Ruhrgestalten
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Johan Simons

By März 27, 2017 No Comments

At the moment you are the director of Ruhrtriennale. Mid-August, your last season starts. What are your priorities for your 2017 program?

JS: We will focus on ideas of a future world. What are our visions for the future, our utopia or dystopia? In this context we will stage the world premiere of a new opera based on “Kein Licht.” by Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek. We will bring two trilogies we started two years ago to their conclusions: a dance performance inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy” by US choreographer Richard Siegal and an eleven hour theater marathon based on novels by Émile Zola, directed by Luk Perceval. We will show “Pelléas et Mélisande”, which is considered one of the first operas of the modern era. Barbara Hannigan stars as Mélisande. We will celebrate electronic pop music with several concerts, featuring Nicolas Jaar, SOHN or Arca. And I myself will direct a music theater adaptation of Don DeLillo’s great novel “Cosmopolis”. Only to mention a few attractions of our six week festival in the incomparable post-industrial venues that make the Ruhrtriennale so very special.


Afterwards you will be working for Schauspielhaus Bochum. What keeps you in the Ruhr area?

JS: First of all, people in this area are not only very honest, down-to-earth and warm-hearted – that is what they are famous for and it is really true – but they are also curious and very open-minded. The Ruhr area has a long tradition of immigration and cultural melting. This makes it a kind of model for Europe, I think. And, of course, the Schauspielhaus Bochum itself is a unique theater. The main stage is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen, if not the most beautiful. When I was a student at acting school I used to travel to Bochum to watch legendary performances there. It was a famous place back then. To have the chance to return to the same theater, to build my own ensemble and to work there as a director is a truly emotional journey. And a great challenge and adventure! Just the right thing at the age of 72! (laughs)


Without revealing too much: what is your vision for Schauspielhaus Bochum?

JS: Schauspielhaus Bochum has a long tradition. We will celebrate the 100th anniversary in our first season 2018/2019. From the early days on it was critically acclaimed and celebrated, especially in the 70s and 80s, when some of the most exciting directors used to work there like Peter Zadek or Claus Peymann. Since then, Schauspielhaus Bochum has been a legend in the German speaking theater world. I wish to build on those great times. I want to create an ensemble of some of the best actresses and actors I know –and also bring some fresh talent to Bochum. Together we want to present strong theater that tells profound stories. And I want to expand the range: with dance, with music concerts, maybe even with video art. Different nationalities and artistic branches shall in influence each other. I wish to create a theater without borders – which is in my opinion just the right thing to do in the current political situation: showing people the richness of our diverse world.


Besides Jahrhunderthalle and Schau­spielhaus: what is your favorite place or location in Bochum?

JS: Well, the Schauspielhaus definitely is my favorite place, as I already said. But if I had to mention another place in Bochum besides that, it probably would be a café or a restaurant. There are a few good ones in Bochum where I have already been several times. Good cooking (and eating) is probably my second favorite thing apart from theater.

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