‘Coming of Age’ Festival Takes On Ageism in Theater

Sept. 7, 2021

Age is just a number—yet there is no getting around aging. In the midst of debates around social responsibility and solidarity, the ‘Coming of Age’ festival dedicated to various facets of aging wants to renegotiate long-established generational contracts and look at the different challenges of a phenomenon that affects us all.

Taking place from September 15th to November 7th at Sophiensæle, it comprises a varied program of art, dance, musical, theater and lecture performances, a film, a listening session, as well as discussions complementing the festival’s thematic scope. It will focus on intergenerational exchange and, at the same time, aim to counteract the invisibility of aging in theatrical, social and political contexts.

Two performers, one lying and one leaning on a piece of furniture, covering their faces with their hands

Rodrigo Garcia Alves and Liz Rosenfeld // © An*dre Neely

The presented performance pieces design alternative models of care, reckon with outdated traditions, rework parental relationships and intergenerational contracts and rethink elective families and societies. They also take a critical look at the challenges of aging in the performing arts and ask pertinent questions, such as: why are aging bodies still taboo on stage? Why does the independent scene have the appearance of eternal youth? What structural changes are needed to sustain aging in theater professions? And what strategies can be used to positively inhabit the experience of living and working in the context of the performative arts?

In their first duet for the stage titled ‘Thank you for your effort, even if these requests cannot be fulfilled,’ Rodrigo Garcia Alves and Liz Rosenfeld explore their desire to understand and create future hospice together. For this performance, they drag objects, stories, projections, fantasies and experiments crafting future worlds for each other through experimental dance, text and video practices. The two artists’ collaborations connect to a queer position on death, dying and end-of-life care.

A woman spreading her arms during a performance in a room with orange lighting

Marjani Forté-Saunders: ‘Memoirs of a… Unicorn’ // © Maria Baranova

‘Memoirs of a… Unicorn,’ the award-winning solo by Marjani Forté-Saunders thematizes Black masculinities, magic, resilience and political resistance. In it, the choreographer and dancer pays tribute to the “unicorns” of her life and her community—formative figures such as father, son and brother, homies, pahtnas and fam. The performance draws on the artist’s deep bond with her father and interweaves personal narratives with collective memories and historical fragments.

In Doris Uhlich’s solo performance ‘Tank,’ the audience embarks on a captivating exploration of the body as a field of experimentation and its modification by new technologies through chains of cinematic, robotic, biotechnological and medical associations. The tank on stage, built by the Berlin collective Proper Space, evokes images of familiar science-fiction motifs. In this performance, it advances to a place of study and testing of body transformations, resistances and technological promises of happiness.

A photo of a naked woman in immersed in water a transparent tank placed in a black room.

Doris Uhlich: ‘Tank’// © Katja Illner

Sophiensæle is getting older as well—25 years old, to be precise. As part of this festival, the venue will celebrate its anniversary as well as the 30th edition of the Tanztage Berlin festival. On this occasion, Sophiensæle will also release a publication titled ‘Openings,’ which will look back on the discourses and atmospheres of the Freie Szene in the last decade.

Berlin Art Link is offering 1×2 tickets for the performance ‘Thank you for your effort, even if these requests cannot be fulfilled’ by Rodrigo Garcia Alves and Liz Rosenfeld taking place on September 18th at 9 pm at Sophiensæle. For your chance to win, follow the instructions below. We will pick the winner via an anonymous raffle.

Giveaway Instructions

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Festival Info


‘Coming of Age’
Performance Festival: Sept. 15–Nov. 7, 2021
Sophienstraße 18, 10178 Berlin, click here for map

Liz Rosenfeld & Rodrigo Garcia Alves: ‘Thank You For Your Effort, Even If These Requests Cannot Be Fulfilled’
Sept. 15–18, 2021; 8pm
Admission: € 15 (€ 10 concession)

Marjani Forté-Saunders: ‘Memoirs of a…Unicorn’
Oct. 7–8, 2021; 8pm
Admission: € 15 (€ 10 concession)

Doris Uhlich: ‘Tank’
October 20-21, 2021; 7pm
Admission: € 15 (€ 10 concession)

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