Performing Arts Matthias Jochmann

  •  Matthias Jochmann © Goethe-Institut China
    Workshop and open rehersal " About Disappearance" - a theater project of Matthias Jochmann
  •  Matthias Jochmann © Goethe-Institut China
    Workshop and open rehersal " About Disappearance" - a theater project of Matthias Jochmann
  •  Matthias Jochmann © Zhang Bin(章斌)
    Documentary theatre project of Matthias Jochmann „About My Parents and Their Child”
  •  Matthias Jochmann © Goethe-Institut China
    Theater „about the beautiful new world“ – a Theater project of Matthias Jochmann

Matthias Jochmann, born in 1987 in Munich, is a director, author, and sound and video designer.
In 2001 he began acting on various stages in Bonn. From 2004 he served as assistant director at a number of different theatres, including the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, the Deutsches Theatre and Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, the Staatsschauspiel in Stuttgart and at the Biennale in Bonn, working with directors like Luk Perceval, Jan Bosse, Şahika Tekand and Christoph Schlingensief, Werner Schroeter and Johann Kresnik, as well as working on independent productions in Santiago, Chile. In 2004 Jochmann cofounded the SceneMissing film production company, for which he wrote and produced the picture Rolltreppe abwärts (German release: February 2006).

From 2009 he worked on a great many theatrical productions, mostly as director, whilst studying applied theatre in Giessen, Germany, with Professor Heiner Goebbels and the SIGNA performance collective. In 2011 he audited classes in directing and acting in Santiago.

From 2012, he staged productions at the Teatro Argentino de La Plata, Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, the Penghao and Gulouxi theatres in Beijing, the Dramatic Arts Centre in Guangzhou, Staatstheater in Darmstadt and Theaterhaus in Jena. Several of his productions toured abroad, including guest performances at the Greek national theatre in Athens, in Vienna, and at festivals in China, England and Poland.

Jochmann has been awarded several grants and residencies, e.g. from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Robert Bosch Foundation and Goethe-Institut China. He writes for radio and does sound and video design, e.g. at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin and the Staatstheater in Darmstadt.

In the summer of 2014 Matthias Jochmann was a Goethe-Institut China performing artist-in-residence.

His project vom verschwinden (about disappearance) was a theatrical exploration of disappearing as both an active and a passive process, and from a global to an individual, intimate scale.

Along with Professor Li Yinan, Jochmann conducted a five-week workshop with students in the Department of Dramatic Literature at Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama. Together they worked various phenomena of disappearance into a collaboratively staged collage, including the disappearance of old architecture from the Beijing cityscape, the disappearance of the individual amongst the masses of a megacity like Beijing, the disappearance of tradition in the age of globalization, the disappearance of a person in death. The project culminated in two performances of about disappearance at the Penghao Theatre, which caused quite a sensation and aroused widespread public discussion.
Jochmann’s follow-up projects in Beijing
1) About the Beautiful New World (2015)

About the Beautiful New World was a collaboration between Matthias Jochmann and students at the Beijing Central Academy of Drama, with support from the Goethe-Institut China and the Nanluoguxiang Festival for Performing Arts.

In this work for the theatre, students in their early 20s ask their grandparents and relatives about the plans and dreams they had when they were in their early 20s, in other words about fifty years ago. What did they wish for when they were as young as the students today? What were their views of China and the world? What sort of hopes did they have? What sort of plans did they make for their personal future? What became of those plans?

Oral history serves as the basis for this documentary theatre project in which history is conveyed by the spoken word and by real people, with no pretence of objectivity. Seven students standing on stage relate their grandparents’ viewpoints, as well as their own experience of asking this older generation about how they view, in very personal terms, their past and present lives.

What were people’s aspirations 50 years ago? What goals have they achieved? What are their dreams today? What are the goals, in comparison, of present-day students? Which goals and dreams do the two generations have in common? How did the interviews influence the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren?

Based on individual dreams then and now, this theatre project seeks to gain some personal insight into the evolution of Chinese society since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
2) “Our wishes gave us Mao, you can buy your wishes now”

Four Chinese grandparents are interviewed by four grandchildren. In each case, this is the first time their grandchildren have asked them about their past aspirations. Although these grandchildren were in fact raised by their grandparents, they hardly know a thing about their grandparents’ past, let alone what it was like back then during the Cultural Revolution. Looking critically at modern Chinese history is frowned upon; young people are taught to look towards the future instead – and from a patriotic and optimistic angle. These interviews juxtapose very personal plans, dreams and hopes from then and now. The individual perspectives of two different generations are used to retrace the evolution of the People’s Republic from its founding in 1949 to the present day.

The feature film Unsere Wünsche gab uns Mao. Eure Wünsche könnt ihr kaufen (“Our wishes gave us Mao, you can buy your wishes now”) grew out of the documentary play about the beautiful new world that premiered in 2015 in Beijing. Whereas in the play only the grandchildren’s generation was represented on stage, the film directly juxtaposes the voices of both generations.
3) About My Parents and Their Child (2016)

This project was commissioned by Ibsen International as part of the 2016 programme Ibsen in China, and coproduced by the Goethe-Institut China and the Nanluoguxiang Festival for Performing Arts.

In 2015 Matthias Jochmann developed a project entitled about the beautiful new world together with students at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. As part of his research for the project, he spent the Chinese New Year with Chinese families, observing subtle aspects of their family dynamics.

About My Parents and Their Child is a documentary theatre project that addresses and examines these family dynamics as well as mutual tensions and expectations. The representatives of the younger generation, all between 21 and 38 years of age, discuss the phenomenon of China’s one-child policy and its consequences. The interviews with these “kids” and their parents were conducted in the spring of 2016 at five different places in China, yielding over fifty hours of recorded material.

Based on these in-depth interviews, the international creative team explored China’s social (r)evolution, seeking to shed some light on how it influenced the institution of the family and the country’s economic development.
How have family values changed? Is having a child of one’s own still a must for one’s private happiness? Which traditions have endured despite the rapid pace of change in China? Which changes have the “parents” undergone? What has influenced their conception of family?