Art in times of isolation

Art in times of isolation

Benjamin bochmann doesn’t know it any differently: sometimes he appears as the poetic cyrano de bergerac in bamberger’s "theater im gartnerviertel" on, times as an animal member of the bremer stadtmusikanten in the habfurt theater workshop. His schedule was jam-packed with rehearsals and performances. Until corona paralyzed the country: "since we work as freelance actors, our loss of earnings is almost 100 percent right now, and unfortunately no one can say when this situation will ease again.", tells bochmann. His wife, heidi lehnert, is also known to many people in bamberg as an actress and director.

No audience, no art

But the order of the day is "social distancing". The retreat into one’s own four walls should put an end to the pandemic. What protects humanity drives artists into bankruptcy. Without guests, theaters close and concerts are canceled.

Many artists have lost all sources of income. The economic situation of freelance artists was not easy before corona either. Most of them shimmy from project to project. Sick days are not paid anyway. Now that events have been cancelled without replacement for an indefinite period, many fear for their livelihoods.

"It makes your heart bleed

"Completely everything that was planned has been cancelled. All the ideas. It makes your heart bleed. Four or five weeks of rehearsals and now we don’t know if we can give birth to the baby", tells aline joers. The actress was a member of the ensemble of the ETA hoffmann theater in bamberg until 2013. Since then she has been a freelancer. "We were not allowed to rehearse either. Too many people in one place, says the 34-year-old. "Home office also works for artists, they do bureaucratic work, tax returns, update their presence on the internet. But you do not earn anything."

A few dates are still to come

Bochmann also hoped to use the forced break to do paperwork, but his children had other plans: "before the virus broke out, we were mainly rehearsing during the day with various projects and our main problem was who would supervise the children while we worked, now our main task is to keep the children busy and work on the school material."

Even if no one can foresee when the public life will be allowed to take place again, the artists are holding on to the few outstanding dates. "We remain positive, and prepare every project that has not yet been canceled, as if it will take place", according to bochmann.

Joers also continues to work on her next piece: brecht’s threepenny opera. This time the stage will be the painter’s workshop of the chamber of handicrafts upper franconia. Although the premiere has been postponed for the time being, she is using the initial restriction to learn the text: "also for your own motivation, to keep your body and mind fresh. It’s important for you."

Emergency aid for artists

Aline joers has already applied for the emergency aid offered by the state of freestate. She does not know when she can expect government support.

Nevertheless, the berlin native can also take something positive from the crisis: "you have contact with people you haven’t spoken to in ages." Artists are also moving closer together, developing joint projects. According to the motto: if the audience does not come to the theater, the theater comes to the audience on the home PC.

The bamberg "nana theater called a "pandemic poetry project" into life. Readings via youtube video. Joers also contributed a clip from domestic isolation. To "send something positive into the world", as she says.

Famous musicians get together to jam via livestream. State and national theaters go online with readings or interviews. Bochmann takes a critical view of the internet hype. "The main advantage of the theater over film and television is that it is more accessible…) especially in the direct contact with the actors and the audience." In the end, it’s not clicks that pay, but only tickets sold.

A few of the pre-sold tickets for the postponed "threepenny opera" have not been returned, joers recounts. "That’s where solidarity comes in." When the pandemic is over and life shifts back to the outdoors, people may longingly flock back to theaters and concert halls. Bochmann believes that there will be "an increased need among people for socializing, culture and art. In contrast to the conversation with which one tries to survive the time now." Until then: if you have money left over from the loss of shopping opportunities, you are welcome to support the artists of your choice with a financial injection. Or simply did not return already paid tickets. At the end of joer’s reading, it is aptly said: "have sunshine in your heart and everything will be all right."