Collaborative Village Play Part II: Alte Bäume werfen Schatten (Old Trees Cast Shadow)
Bostelwiebeck, Niedersachsen
September 2022

A three-hour performance, developed and presented collectively in Northern Germany

Jahrmarkttheater Bostelwiebeck, Posaunenchor Altenmedingen and the long list of cooperators that you find at the bottom of the text

In 2021, this long-term project started with a collaboration with people from the Hungarian village of Nagykamarás. Part I was named Watermelon Republic . This year we are working in parallel on two Village Plays, in Porto do Son, Spain and Bostelwiebeck, Germany. Both make use of the network and shared knowledge of the first play, but translate it to new contexts.

In Bostelwiebeck we searched for locally relevant questions with the Village Play Shaping Committee. Together we talked about the relationship between generations, the challenges of taking over family farms and the local particularities of land ownership. In northern Germany the Lower Saxony Farm Act (Niedersächsische Höfeordnung) regulates how farms can be inherited and states that a sole heir has to be chosen, so that the farm is not divided, but remains intact and economically viable. Many things are subordinated to the preservation of the farm; it is a great responsibility and often puts a strain on family relationships.

Sometimes we call the Village Play a celebration, sometimes a performance — you could also say a new ritual, whose form we invent collectively. In any case, the excitement of performing together and sharing the play in public gives the collaboration momentum.

We hold group meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. At our first meeting with the committee, gardens and the change of generations emerge as shared concerns, so we propose these as main themes for the Village Play. Everyone immerses themselves in the drawing of their gardens. Gardens are an easy subject, farm handovers and how different generations can live well together prove to be a more difficult topic.

Bostelwiebeck is a village southeast of Hamburg. It has 45 inhabitants. People from Altenmedingen, Gienau, Eddelstorf, Secklendorf and Vorwerk also join our meetings. We decide to start the Village Play from the main square of Gienau, making use of the small stage built above the fire brigade pond. With a procession of tractors, trailers, and bicycles, we make our way to Bostelwiebeck, to Jahrmarkttheater.

Antje and her partner Thomas create a tablecloth from the garden drawings. We present it to the committee. Heike, Susanne and Svantje embroider it, confronted with the difficulty that it is too much, that it cannot be done — just as the garden sometimes is. Together we read the ‘garden monologues’, texts that we have compiled from what has been said and recorded at previous meetings. Based on these conversations, Katalin has also created a so-called ‘generations’ text with India, to be read at a long dinner table, accompanied by different actions, synchronous movements performed in silence. Everyone brings the spoon to their mouth, everyone bends over and looks into their neighbour’s plate. We rehearse for a long time and have a lot of laughs.

In spring, five wind turbines were erected between Gienau and Bostelwiebeck, becoming subject to a long and bitter dispute within the community. Should this conflict have a place in our ritual? Antje proposes to make her largest painting yet that we set up like a billboard on the way between Gienau and Bostelwiebeck. She brings two drafts to discuss with the committee. There is careful deliberation about what mood should prevail, how cheerful or gloomy. The picture introduces wind turbines to the genre of landscape painting - during the performance, the public passes by and everyone can form their own opinion.

The Altenmedingen Trombone Choir rehearses a new song about caring for and taking responsibility (Kümmern und Sorge tragen) with Thomas Matschoss, which he wrote especially for the occasion. The 7-year-old Marlene, the only child of Bostelwiebeck, acts as moderator and host of the performance. Gábor, Tünde and Viki arrive from Hungary with a trailer full of melons, with which we perform a melon choreography led by Katalin at the model airplane field.

Performance / celebration: September 3rd, 2022

By and with: Eckhard Burmester, Tina Brinkmann, Marit Dick, Stephan Dick, Heike Eggersgluess-Möller, Katalin Erdődi, Hauke Feddersen, Nadine Gleitze, Johanna Graf, Sven Heese, Leonard Hyfing, Anja Imig, Gisela Imig, Herbert Imig, Antje Knobloch, Karin Knobloch, Hans Kramer, Eckhard Krause, Alina Kuhlmann, Michael Kuhlmann, Hannelore Marquard, Werner Marquard, Thomas Matschoss, Annette Niemann, Svantje Nissen, Janine Oswald, Hella Paschen, Thomas Pelchen, Birgit Prigge, India Roth, Simone Rowedder, Susanne Schienke, Wolfgang Schienke, Antje Schiffers, Marcel Schmitz, Susanne Schubert, Karin Seedorf, Bianka Skiba, Ina Sommermeier, Elisabeth Tippe, Swaantje Traffa, Marlene Wieczorek, Patricia Wieczorek and the Trombone Choir Altenmedingen
Artistic collaborators: Anja Imig, Thomas Matschoss und India Roth / Jahrmarkttheater Bostelwiebeck, Antje and Karin Knobloch / Posaunenchor Altenmedingen, Markus Voigt (arrangement), Martin König and Thomas Sprenger (film), Barbara König and Janine Oswald (photography)

The working title of our 3-year performative project is Rural Productive Forces, initiated by Antje and the curator and dramaturg Katalin Erdődi.
In cooperation with Jahrmarkttheater Bostelwiebeck, supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung and Soziokultur Niedersachsen.

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