Artist in Focus: Angélica Liddell

Beginning with this edition of FIND, we are dedicating a focus to a significant figure in international theatre.

We are delighted that Angélica Liddell, an artist who has shaped contemporary theatre like few others, has agreed to inaugurate this series with German premieres of two of her latest productions. In addition to the performances and for the entire duration of the festival, we will be hosting online screenings of works by the artist that have not yet been performed in Berlin.

In spring 2022 — on the traditional festival dates in April — FIND will shine a light on the work of the Canadian writer, director, actor and filmmaker Robert Lepage. The Spanish writer, director and performer Angélica Liddell, who is the focus of this year’s festival edition, has had a connection with the Schaubühne and FIND for many years. Along with her group Atra Bilis Teatro, she has put on several of her pioneering works in past editions of the festival: in 2014, influenced by the massacre committed by Anders Breivik in Utøya, she staged the sequel to Peter Pan Todo el cielo sobre la tierra (El sindrome de Wendy) (All the Sky above the Earth (The Wendy Syndrome)). Her 2018 production ¿Qué haré yo con esta espada? (What Shall I Do With This Sword) linked the story of a notorious Japanese cannibal in a visually striking way with terrorism in our supposedly ultra-civilised society. And with Toter Hund in der Chemischen Reinigung: die Starken (Dead Dog at Dry Cleaners: the Strong), which opened FIND 2017, she developed a production with the Schaubühne ensemble. Referencing Diderot and Foucault, Liddell creates a dystopian vision of Europe which includes total control over the individual.

Violence, surveillance, cruelty and her objection to a civilization which, with cynical double standards, has declared well-meaning humanism to be the state religion with no possible alternatives, are also the leitmotifs of two of Angélica Liddell’s latest productions. Both focus on the role of the artist in society: on her marginalisation and even her moralistic stigmatisation.

The central theme of her 2019 work The Scarlet Letter, in which the scarlet letter »A« brands both the adulteress (»Adulteress«) and the artist (»Artist«), is consistently continued by Angélica Liddell in her production Liebestod, created during the pandemic. In a confrontation with the »great masters« who have shaped her work, above all Antonin Artaud, she relentlessly questions her own relevance as an artist. At the same time, she places herself in the tradition of the legendary torero Juan Belmonte. His art of the matador, which develops bullfighting into a spiritual discipline, and his tragic suicide in 1962, which she relates to the thinking of Emil Cioran, become the starting point for an obsessive reflection on death. Just three months after its premiere during the Avignon Festival in July 2021, »Liebestod« will now be seen as a guest performance for the first time.

In parallel with the two performances on stage, Angélica Liddell herself has selected two filmed recordings of her earlier productions which will be available to be viewed online on our website throughout the festival period: Todo el cielo sobre la tierra (El síndrome de Wendy), perhaps her most emblematic work; and You are my destiny (Lo stupro di Lucrezia), premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2015, in which the ancient Roman abuse case of Lucretia is subjected to a disturbing re-reading. The documentary film Angélica (Una tragedia) by Manuel Fernández-Valdés, which accompanies Angélica Liddell during rehearsals of »Todo el cielo sobre la tierra (El sindrome de Wendy)«, will also be available online. Another highlight of the showcase is a personal tour in the National Museums in Berlin in which Angélica Liddell will introduce the audience to works from art history that have influenced her own work in a special way.