For almost two decades, the banks of the Main at the Wesel Wharf have always been transformed for a few weeks during the summer holidays into a very special place where culture, encounters and art come together. The result is a place for everyone who wants to experience theatre, music and more, or simply enjoy the evening after work. And all this with free admission. For it is the desire to bring culture into the public sphere that drives the members of protagon e.V. to put on the popular Sommerwerft Festival year after year, despite considerable financial hurdles.
And that should be the case again in 2020. But again, the corona virus has thrown a wrench in everyone's plans. With all major events banned until at least August 31, the Summer Throwdown cannot take place in the much-appreciated manner this summer vacation. But it should not be cancelled completely, if the organizers of protagon e.V. - Freunde und Förderer freier Theateraktionen - have their way. They are working flat out on ideas and concepts for how culture in public spaces can also take place under hygienic conditions. Visitor numbers, live broadcasts and mobile versions play a new and central role in the concept. This could bring a touch of the Sommerwerft atmosphere to other parts of the city.
The considerations are based on the fact that culture and leisure fun are in principle yes possible again. Festivals are cancelled, but museums and sports halls are open again. Shopping possibilities are Covid-organized and fortunately many people are sensitized for the distance rules - even if pictures from Sylt or Berlin let doubt it. But in many areas of our lives it is clear that well-designed infection control measures make it possible to live an adapted everyday life, which people need as a basic need, according to the Sommerwerft team.
‚Not from earthly fare alone do beings thrive,' wrote Hölderlin over 200 years ago. The yearning for tangible culture has become more palpable in times of the covid pandemic. The engagement through performing arts, the authentic experience of artistic moments, the unifying language through theatre and performance in public spaces, they have been missing for many months.
That's why a little dose of summertime wharf would really do us good, too. "Even in the current situation, we don't want to give up public places of cultural and democratic debate, but to be able to act in them in an appropriately flexible and responsible way. We want to make performing arts and diverse culture possible even during the Covid 19 pandemic," says Bernhard Bub, artistic director of the Sommerwerft.
A limited edition of the Sommerwerft could protagon e.V. imagine implementing - outdoors without tents, significantly scaled down and additionally networked, for example with the latest city-supported culture streaming platform.
The roadmap for new formats, a solution for theater culture in pandemic times, is being developed together with Frankfurt-based AES Veranstaltungskonzept GmbH. "We are in close exchange with the relevant offices to ensure a protected course of this changed situation in the summer on the grounds of the Weseler Werft," said Benjamin Coppik, managing director of AES Konzept, which, in addition to security concepts for large events, also creates individual infection control or hygiene concepts.
In addition, the association has developed another option with "Sommerwerft mobil". As an antagonistic part of a protagonistic basic idea, artists could also move into city districts with theatre scenes of their plays or with site-specific performances. In this way, they would bring the culture of theatre to the people in public spaces.
For the artists' collective antagon TheaterAKtion, which lives on the association's cultural grounds and plays a major role in implementing the Sommerwerft, the streets and squares are important places. They can be ambassadors for community where no one expects theatre, in the neighbourhoods and housing estates of our city, strengthening hope and memory of multicultural participation through performing arts. This attitude was a founding idea of the association in 1999, and the first Summer Throw was held three years later. "This year we are counting the 19th Sommerwerft, and we are once again taking on a bold idea for a cultural offering that can be experienced digitally and analogously," explains Bernd Abraham, founding board member at protagon e.V.
The order of magnitude of the costs of the measures that could result from the requirements to hold an event is currently still open. Due to the Covid 19 crisis, protagon e.V. also lacks finances to adequately support its artistic work. Donations are needed, an appropriate form is HERE on the association's website.
There is little time left in a race against conditions, narrow open spaces, sanitation solutions and an artistic program. The Summer Yard team will continue to work on this. We are curious to see what will come out of it. One thing should be certain: it will be surprising and colourful - and it will bring some much needed colour into the dull Frankfurt cultural life of the last months.
The theatre ensemble antagon TheaterAKTion, which lives and works together in Frankfurt's east, will give a taste on Friday, June 5, at 9:30 p.m. via livestream for the dress rehearsal of the play "Frame Games," which is about falling out of the frames that surround us. https://www.facebook.com/antagon.theater/