"We know that theater gets the best reception when it concentrates on its basic strengths."

Reiner Ernst Ohle, who is responsible for theater at Bayer Arts & Culture, talks about the principal changes in the program in this area and the background to them.

Ernst Ohle

Starting this season, the theater program will comprise three elements: classical theater, modern theater and “Trailblazers”. What is the idea behind this new structure?
The principal idea can be summed up by three “Cs”: compact, concentrated and communicative.

What does that mean?
The offering is compact, in other words, clear and representative, concentrating on a few themes such as heroes and the “Gründerzeit”. It is communicative in the sense of being “logical” and “understandable”. We know that theater gets the best reception when it concentrates on its basic strengths - good texts, excellent actors and plausible productions that people find fascinating and moving.

Before the restructuring there were four series.
The new structure shows clearly that the change is not necessarily a code for budget cuts. Compared with other venues, we still have a great offering with a total of eight plays - four “classics” and four “modern” plays. Our aim is and remains to present productions that have a certain quality and show people the present trends in the world of theater. We are living through turbulent times.

To what extent should plays take up topical events?
If we constantly try to keep up with the latest events, at some point we will become short-termist. I believe we should be a place where people can relax and reflect on essentials. Even though the world is constantly changing, the questions confronting us are the same as for earlier generations: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are our expectations? What is in store for us? By looking back at the “Gründerzeit” and at “heroes” like Peer Gynt and Don Quixote, we are not fostering a nostalgic relationship with history. On the contrary, we want to use history and stories as a basis for creativity that looks forward to the future. Theater unfolds its power most effectively when it it does not cling to day-to-day politics.

What is the new “Trailblazer” series about?
It is a platform for us to present popular and well-known actors through unusual projects, in other words, actors who are looking for new challenges and new ventures. We believe the term “trailblazer” can conjure the sort of image we want to be associated with these evenings. Trailblazers are adventurers who accept a certain risk, people who what to test themselves and explore new dimensions.

You will also be working with youth theaters from Leverkusen, Leipzig, Duisburg and Mülheim an der Ruhr ....
There are certain themes that are always important to young people. The search for identity, first love, conflicts with parents can all be the stuff of riveting stories. That is exactly what the four youth theaters will be doing with our assistance. In this way, we are developing a small repertoire which we hope will reach out to many young people. We will be keeping the public updated about this project on our website and in our blog.

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