Tennessee Rep and Theater Magdeburg join for unique live transatlantic production

A “first-time-ever” theatre event will occur as the result of an international artistic partnership between Tennessee Repertory Theatre (TRT) and Theater Magdeburg, located in Nashville’s Sister City in Germany. Scheduled for five performances on Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1, in Johnson Theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), the original drama, “das treffen - The Other Side,” features five Nashville-based actors and five Magdeburg-based actors performing simultaneously live and via satellite.

At both venues, spectators will face a wide video screen. They will see the same performance of the same story being performed on both sides. The local actors, the Germans in Madgeburg and the Nashvillians here, will enter and take their seats among the audience. Video cameras will focus on individual spectators and transmit their images onto the screen and into the performance. At the same time, on the other side, the actors, having become part of the audience, will tell individual stories, thus linking the people presented live onscreen to the narrative.

“The stories are based on real-life anecdotes and day-to-day experiences and express desires and disappointments, as well as moments of great happiness or tragedies of love,” according to director Markus Dietz of Theater Magdeburg.

“The evening floats between the authenticity of the live situation and the fiction of the narrative. Not unlike a musical composition, text and visual images oscillate between points of closest intimacy and widest distance,” Dietz said. “It is a meeting of people on both continents, a meeting with one’s own self seen through the mirror of the vis-à-vis, a bridge to the other side.”

The Magdeburg-based actors are Bernd Michael Baier, Josip Culjak, Annett Sawallisch, Anna Hertz and Robert Neumann.

Nashville actors Brooke Bryant, Mark Cabus, Marin Miller, Richard Northcutt and Brian Russell traveled to Magdeburg last May for a six-week period of script development and rehearsal.

TRT Producing Director Rene Copeland, who leads the TRT team including Scenic Designer Gary Hoff and others affiliated with the company, said, “The Magdeburg team came over for a few days last winter. Since the script was (and is) still in development, we only had a description of four general character types. Based on that, we lined up around 20 actors for them to audition and interview. They made their selections from among those actors.”

“The idea behind the script is to draw parallels between people here and in Magdeburg. So for each character type here there is a corresponding one in the German cast,” Copeland said.

The world premiere of “das treffen - The Other Side” is one event among many in celebration of the 1200th anniversary of Magdeburg, capital of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. The performances will also mark the opening festivities of the refurbished Schauspielhaus Magdeburg (Theater Madgeburg).

David Alford, TRT Executive Artistic Director, said, “The idea is bold, the concept is fresh, the subject matter entirely accessible. And how often does any theatre company get to participate in a project that is truly groundbreaking, the first of its kind?”

Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s season sponsor is HCA/TriStar. Partial support is provided by American Airlines, The HCA Foundation, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, The Tennessean and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Tennessee Repertory Theatre is the largest professional theatre in the state, presenting work that is designed, built and rehearsed in Nashville by a company of highly skilled actors, designers, directors and technicians.

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