Every year at the end of the Theatertreffen, a young actress or actor is honored with the Alfred Kerr Actor Award for a special achievement. The award is endowed with 5000 euros, it is presented by the Alfred Kerr Foundation in memory of the great Berlin theater critic and supported by the daily mirror. The juror this year was actress Valery Cheplanova. In earlier years she made guest appearances at the Theatertreffen with productions by Dimiter Gotscheff and Frank Castorf and, selected by Edith Clever, received the Kerr Prize herself in 2014.
I was allowed to see ten performances and was amazed ten times. First of all, I was amazed at the still lively punch line and timing craft and the interlocking of young and old theater makers, who happily took the butter off their bread in “Tartuffe”. I marveled at the humble and immediate willingness to tell a story like A Man in His Class.
Some theater makers seem to still be sitting at the rehearsal table
I marveled at the filigree Japanese miniature “Doughnuts” (Thalia Theater Hamburg) into which a handful of Europeans were stuffed like a sardine can and who, amazed and happily wrestled with punchlines, and I marveled at the fact that reading a text together was a Theatrical process can be as in “All right. Goodnight”.
I was also amazed at the countless small, winding turns, dead ends, detours and junctions in “Das Neue Leben” from the Hannover Schauspiel, but even more so that the bear’s share of stage time wasn’t given to people, but to a circling lamp.
Then I marveled at myself too. I was unable to let strange actors touch me and follow instructions, even though I bought a ticket describing the process as a theatrical performance. I left “The Rest” after three hours.
Finally, I was amazed that some theater makers seemed to me to still be sitting at the rehearsal table or only apparently got up and walked on stage, as if they wanted to sell me a half-finished shoe and I should be responsible for explaining why the shoe wasn’t finished and pay full price for the unfinished shoe.
Also, I couldn’t figure out why a 200-year-old narrative that was described as outdated on stage (in “The Maid of Orleans”) is still being discussed. In the meantime, countless poets have swung their pencils, so a suitable narrative can certainly be found. Up until now it had also seemed to me as if singing in the theater was a different kind of singing, direct, unreinforced, unembellished, and if I enjoyed rehearsing and acting, I didn’t miss the support of video, microphones and pompous costumes for myself. Colleagues in the pop business definitely have the better budget for such utensils.
And if it’s discourse, if it’s theory songs, then it’s as outrageously ostentatious, charming and exuberant as in “Like Lovers Do”. I was amazed that so many drastic words in colorful packaging trigger something like a cheerful forgiveness.
I also saw young people, many young people who wanted and could play characters and who smuggled the will to tell about a person or character into the auditorium – bypassing the stage discourse and directorial ambitions.
Nikolai Gemel, who quietly carries away a human life in “Man in His Class”, Phillip Grimm, Jannik Hinsch and Henriette Hölzel, who remove the roof from the Dresden theater in “Tartuffe”, Annemarie Brüntjen, who sketches Joan of Arc for twenty minutes, Vassilissa Reznikoff , who dreams herself into a character as Agnes in “The Maid of Orleans”, Gro Swantje Kohlhof, who plays cinematically on stage without a camera in “Like Lovers Do”, Vadina Popov, who in “Slippery Slope” at Maxim Gorki Theater doesn’t actually need an autotune on her voice, Anna Drexler, who swindles stage time in “Neues Leben” in competition with that lamp, and Johannes Hegemann, who as a Japanese hotel worker (“Doughnuts”) feels at home in a strange humor.
And then there was “humanistää!”. A human poem full of pain jokes and language dance and an ensemble to which I would like to transfer the Penunsen from the Kerr Prize in its entirety. But there is: the difference.
Samouil Stoyanov, what a lump of precision and grace. Right at the beginning, when he was still covered with a mask, I asked myself who was dancing such a language ready for battle. Then there was a lot of good ensemble work and then his great monologue, and Samouil Stoyanov from the Vienna Volkstheater turns Ernst Jandl’s clever, sparse sentences into a thoughtful feat of strength, sweats the language and freezes our blood by omitting the word “third”.
I just thought, dear heavens, don’t let him be 50 because from five to 50 I’d seen all sorts of ages, genders and shapes going around in this amazing being. So, after the final applause, quickly hit the street and google, Samouil Soyanov 33. Bingo, the Kerrpreis 2022 goes to Samouil Stoyanov!