Aus „Little Red (Herstory)“ © Hila Flashkes
Aus „Little Red (Herstory)“ © Hila Flashkes
Scene from Little Red (Herstory) © Hila Flashkes

The international performance collective andcompany&Co. was founded in Frankfurt in Main in 2003 by Alexander Karschnia, a theatre expert, author and performer, Nicola Nord, a singer and performer, and Sascha Sulimma, a musician and DJ. It perceives itself as an open network which new artists from every possible discipline are constantly joining – among them the author Bini Adamczak, the visual artist Noah Fischer, the artist Hila Peled, the musician Thomas Myrmel and the New Music Ensemble MAE.

Its performances are arsenals of a 20th and 21st century history which embarks on a tour from Mahagonny, Brecht’s gold rush town, and the legend of Europe to the trilogy about the rise and fall of communism. Utopias and snatches of memory are picked up and checked for added value when they are promised once again. Since 2007 the collective has been artist-in-residence at the HAU theatre in Berlin; some of its performances are the result of coproduction with the Forum Freies Theater (FFT) Düsseldorf, the Pumpenhaus in Münster, the Ringlokschuppen in Mülheim and the Frascati in Amsterdam.

Related links

andcompany&Co.: Portrait

May 2004. Frankfurt’s Theater am Turm closes down: “Death of a city, death of a theatre” is the swan song of the avant-garde, to which five performers dance a silly yet solemn syrtaki, a dance of letters around the tower. This was the first major project for andcompany&Co., “for urbanites – after the big cities”. In it, the history of the TAT and of the Bockenheim quarter is linked to Mahagonny, Brecht’s gold rush town: once the gold – or in this case the culture – runs out, the gold diggers move on. The international performance collective, however, first moved to Amsterdam and then to Berlin, where it is now artist-in-residence at the HAU theatre. Places where its performances have been staged include the Brussels KUNSTENFESTIVALDESARTS (2007), the Styrian Autumn festival in Graz (2007), the Festival Impulse (2009) and the Dortmund festival favoriten 08 – Theaterzwang (2008), where “little red” was awarded the NRW-Kultursekretariat prize.

andcompany&Co. was founded in Frankfurt in Main in 2003 by Alexander Karschnia, an author and theatre expert, Nicola Nord, a singer and performer, and Sascha Sulimma, a musician and DJ. The name, which links up to what has gone before and what comes after, says it all: the collective sees itself as an open network that collaborates with artists from different disciplines – to date, for example, with the author Bini Adamczak, the visual artists Noah Fischer, Hila Peled and Jan Brokof, the composer Thomas Myrmel and the New Music Ensemble MAE. Part of the game is the fact that the collaborators are also performers who appear on-stage. In laboratories, dubbed &Co.LABs, andcompany&Co. devises quick, small-scale projects with alternating partners, initiated as a means of putting a joint artistic future to the test.

Its performances are arsenals of a 20th and 21st century history which embarks on a tour from Mahagonny and the founding of Europe (“europe an alien”, 2006) to the ‘trilogy of reunion with the 20th century’ via the history and end of communism (“little red (play): ‘herstory’”, 2006; “time republic”, 2007; “Mausoleum Buffo”, 2009) and the Hamlet-inspired drama of the passive prince (“showtime. trial & terror”, 2008) to the capital last summer of the Indians (“West in Peace”, 2009). In an offensive policy of association, the collective treasures in the attic are rummaged through, and no single find is conceivable without the other: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Beatles, Erich Honecker and Scrooge McDuck, John Lennon and Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx and Karl May are all interlinked to form a tight-knit system of reference, a clash of quotations that illustrate the lines of relationship. Thus the undead philosophical, political and popular culture ideas of yesteryear continue to haunt with their many voices a theatre for the present that operates with networks and dotcoms but no copy protection. Everything the research unearths is processed according to the musical principles of sampling and remix: compass points that indicate ideologies and utopias are shredded, placed in new contexts and relocated.

The performances of andcompany&Co. are ghost train rides through collective scrap heaps of memory, and as yesterday’s philosophical and aesthetic elements are re-quoted and contradicted, scraps of utopias suddenly become conceivable once again. In these phrases, lost and presumed dead but now promised once more, the effective power of language is put to the test in a post-postmodern way, as is its ability to create realities: “How to make Ernst with words?”, is a quote from a 2006 lecture performance entitled “Declaration of War”. How can the quotes be made serious, how can action be created out of pretence? Thus the conditions of performing itself are thrown into question.

Its collaborative approach to work is closely connected to the objects of negotiation, and the artistic process is utopia production in practice: it claims heterogeneity and connectivity, and many collaborators have left their mark in the language of the stage – and vice versa. Yet the trademarks are always unmistakable. The cleared stages are textual landscapes and spaces for memories in which the actions of the performers are deposited, they are play areas, material collections and research wastelands in which (almost) everything is done by hand. After all, the light machinery comprising bulbs and other light sources is transported by the artists, and the complex sound machinery of gongs, a children’s piano, singing telephone receivers and pre-produced remixes is played from here: the stage machine is the performance. Like a light switch being turned on and off, stories are told and history is made, Walter Benjamin taking the audience on a trip into the future through the remains and traces of the past: look back to the future! Thus andcompany&Co. stages time travel theatre where the performers are time travellers who use the timeline as a springboard into a future.

Esther Boldt

andcompany&Co.: Productions

After Friedrich Schiller„Der (kommende) Aufstand “(i.e. "The Coming Revolution")
2012, GO WEST Festival, Frankfurt

„Zur Sache!“ (i.e. "To the Point")
2013, Deutsches Theater Göttingen

„Black Bismarck“
2013, Theater Hebbel am Ufer (Hau), Berlin

After the film by Kurt Hoffmann "Aren't We Wonderful"
2011, Deutsches Theater Göttingen

2011, Theater Hebbel am Ufer (HAU 2), Berlin

2010, SESC Pompéia, Sao Paulo

Dass das da. Das Utopische Schreiben (Lecture Performance)
2010, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt

WarLab (Lab)
2010, Frascati, Amsterdam

West in Peace or the last summer of the Indians
2009, Hebbel am Ufer (HAU), Berlin

City Circus Zero Work
2009, Festival Theaterformen, Hanover, in cooperation with the Jungen Schauspiel in Hanover

Mausoleum Buffo
2009, Hebbel am Ufer (HAU), Berlin

Showtime: trial & terror
2008, Staatstheater Stuttgart

Time republic
2007, Styrian Autumn, Graz

Little red (play): ‘herstory’
2006, Gasthuis theatre, Amsterdam, in coproduction with the Freischwimmer Festival (Sophiensaele Berlin, FFT Düsseldorf, Kampnagel Hamburg, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee Zurich)

HiB - playtime! "end of drama. begin ofgame"/ states of the union: EURORA (Lab)
2006, Workshop Foundation, Budapest, Internationale Heiner Müller Gesellschaft, Berlin

Declaration of War (Lecture Performance)
2006, Muffathalle, Munich, “dictionary of war” by unfriendly takeover and Multitude e.V.

Revolutionary Timing (Lab)
2006, AT&T Building, New York

Europe an Alien
2005, Frasctai, Amsterdam

For urbanites – after the big cities
2004, Theater am Turm (TAT), Frankfurt am Main