After the actor Ron Iyamu made racist incidents public on March 21 at rehearsals at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, which took place two years ago, a debate has begun about the structures at German theaters. The Düsseldorf Artistic Director, Wilfried Schulz, apologized and announced that he would deal with the events at his house. Because 22 artists did not want to expose themselves to the “retraumatising” conditions of another production co-produced by the Schauspielhaus, they declared that they wanted to end their cooperation with the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and demanded that politicians finance an open stage for blacks and people of Color – a so-called Safe Space. The Berlin dramaturge Bernd Stegemann responded to this demand in an article in the FAZ on April 9, in which he described Ron Iyamu as an “insecure young man who is blocked in his acting expression”. Over 1,400 theater professionals asked Stegemann in an open letter to apologize to the actor. How should things go on at the theater?
Much has been said in and about the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus in recent weeks. There were racist and discriminatory incidents in the theater and dealing with them showed us what we did wrong and what needs to be done urgently in the future. A lot has been said about this in the last few weeks, in the media, in ensemble, company and staff meetings. Together with external consultants, we will clarify the events over the next few weeks and draw conclusions from them. But there is more to it. The incidents are also the hallmarks of a more far-reaching debate for which the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus is exemplary. And they are an expression of a process of change in the company that began some time ago, with very different intensities in different areas. Which is why it is now hitting some of us with unexpected force, while for others the measures do not go far enough.
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