In 2012 nine students from Universität Bremen worked together over the course of two months to develop a stage performance on racism as part of a conference discussing imaginations of Africa in Germany. The title “Performance Schwarz/weiß. Eigenartig/fremd” can roughly be translated to “Black/white. Strangely mine/ The other self”.
In the Park (Claudia S., Manuel T., Katharina G.)
After discussing how to approach the delicate topic we eventually decided – as it was one of our most important intentions not to reproduce racist stereotypes – to work with our very own experiences and thoughts concerning every-day racism in Germany. Our first step was to dive deeply into ourselves and to honestly write down all racist experiences we had made/ acts we had committed/ things we had thought or said. As we were a quite diverse group (male, Black, German, liberal, mixed, Nigerian, female, conservative, white, Togolese, …) we had a broad variety of anecdotes, confessions and embarrassing/ funny/ shocking thoughts lying in a big pile of cut-out pieces of paper on our table, from which we alternatingly picked and read.
Wedding (Katharina Mevissen, Faveur G., Carolin Falke)
From this material we developed various scenes, some inspired by the material, others directly using it. During the working-process we realized that it is impossible to make racism visible without reproducing it. Dealing with that we decided to play with the expectations of our audience by constantly changing “race-” as well as gender-roles in order to create thought-provoking irritation. One example are the photo-triplets that you can see in this post which formed one scene of the performance.
Couple (Katharina G., Manuel T.)
For another scene we recorded some of the most interesting/ provoking/ funny bits of our paper pile of thoughts and stories, and played them to the audience. Later we were walking across the stage in irregular patterns, standing still here and there, reading out lout one of the bits each. The sentences were recorded and read anonymously, meaning the person who wrote it would not necessarily be the one reading it. In the following video we compiled some of them (subtitled in English).
We would be glad to read your comments/ questions/ associations!