is our motto for the upcoming season. The questions of how to shape our present times and how to approach our future are major contemporary is. And the past year has clearly shown how much the present is shaped by the past.

We are surrounded by debates and negotiation processes at the social, political, economic and ecological level, both nationally and internationally. Questions of social structure and justice, of the continuance of democratic principles, of economic order and the determination of climate policies are on the agenda.

These debates confront vehement opinions and standpoints with each other and are marked by a high dynamic. All around us. And we are all faced with the challenge of tolerating these dynamics and conducting, sorting and filtering these debates – while they continue without any quick resolution in sight. These are ongoing processes.

While we still feel the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, society is facing a reality shaped by events like a war in Europe, the design of future energy supplies, inflation or the self-assertive demeanour of authoritarian tendencies all over the world.

One point of recent and current discussion is our view of the past: “2022 is not 1989” – this message was seen on many posters last year, mainly in East Germany, and it intended to clarify a historical fact. 2023 is not 1923, and yet numerous publications focus on the year 1923, a year of tipping points for German history and the way it developed from 1933 to 1945.

During the following decades, the world – and our country especially – was shaped by the Cold War. The events and developments of 1989/90 seemed to signal that the times of confrontational thinking in political camps had been overcome. Even though the effects of these changes and developments were of different weight in East and West Germany, the era and thinking in the categories of the Cold War appeared to be over. The route towards a world order beyond these categories seemed to be open. But the “end of history”, as it was called then, is no longer in sight in the year 2023.

In 2023, we are in the midst of a history that must be negotiated and formed now. The past months have brought home how much our present is determined by our past – whether we like it or not. And the foundations for the future will equally be laid by the debates and decisions of today.

All the more, our season’s programme presents plays which can fuse the present and the past, which maintain our connection with our past and – at the same time – give impulses and perspectives for the future.

At the opening of the season, “Cabaret” will focus on a time when social developments and contrasts sharply overlapped. Brecht’s grotesque parable “Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui)” approaches the same era from a different direction and traces the unimaginable career path of a petty criminal from Chicago to great dominion via the global economic crisis.

The second part of the stage version of Uwe Johnson’s epochal novel “Jahrestage (Anniversaries)” completes the adaptation and connects the era of the Prague Spring with developments in the GDR and Gesine Cresspahl’s life in the USA during the Vietnam War.

At the Diskothek, author Amanda Wilkin will remember a forgotten chapter of Black classical musical history and Wolfram Höll’s characters will set out on a family trip to a Swiss mountain village, where past and present are superimposed onto each other.

Georg Büchner brought Leipzig firmly into the centre of the literary world map with his story about Johann Christian Woyzeck. Both on stage and in the city, we will explore the reality and fiction of this classic which contains social questions and issues that still pertain to our own times.

The performative programming of the Residenz-venue spans an arc from post-colonial issues to framing contemporary ways of living together, both from a global and a local perspective. It ranges from dancing about what cannot be spoken to whispering about what should remain unseen.

These are some of our approaches to this season “In the Midst of History”. A season which will bring further important decisions on a global and national scale, but also specifically in Saxony with local, European and state parliament elections ahead.

As in previous years, we will complement the season and its topics with a series of talks moderated by Jens Bisky. In March 2023, sociologist Stephan Lessenich, director of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, took part in the most recent event of the series. He predicted a “nervous era” ahead of us – and described to what extent the current uncertainties are affecting the centre of our society.

Expert Talks
Under the title of “Wirklichkeiten 23 (Realities 23)”, Jens Bisky (Mittelweg 36 / Hamburg Institute for Social Research) discussed the controversies and longings that accompany the current social debates.
From January to March 2023, his guests were Carolin Amlinger (University of Basel), who together with Oliver Nachtwey conducted research on the so-called Querdenken-movement (“Gekränkte Freiheit”), Nils C. Kumkar (University of Bremen) who explored the phenomenon of “alternative facts” in the US and in Germany, and Stephan Lessenich of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research whose essay “Nicht mehr normal” analysed hopes for normalisation.
The guests and dates for the upcoming season will be announced at a later date.