What happens to young people when they join a group? And how is the sense of community reflected in attitudes, dress codes and rituals? In ESTHER, her new production for young audiences, Reut Shemesh and five professional performers aged between 25 and 55, explore the self-discovery and identity development of young people. The need to belong and the dynamics of groups within a youth community represent two poles of this tense relationship. By exploring the nuanced relationship between uniforms, behaviours and rituals as well as social class, the play sheds light on how young people deal with the delicate balance between conformity and individuality. During the research phase, Reut Shemesh already involved the project's target group and worked with young people in Dresden, Munich, Hamburg and Potsdam.
Call for young people aged 12 and over
We look forward to receiving your photos and thoughts on these questions
Jugend und Uniformen
An interview with Reut Shemesh
What inspired the theme of your latest stage production Esther?
The theme of Esther revolves around youth and uniforms. Over the last seven years, I've dealt with this topic a lot in previous plays, for example with women and military uniforms in Israel and with the Funkenmariechen in Düsseldorf. For me, it's also about uniforms in society and how young people can be instrumentalised with uniforms. The uniforms usually come from adults and I'm interested in how the view of children and young people changes with the uniforms. I was a gymnast myself as a girl. Today I think we wore very tight clothes. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked!
How and with whom are you working specifically for the premiere in Potsdam?
I want to work with "re-enactment" - in other words, re-enacting and recreating existing photos of young people in different uniforms. Some of the photos were taken by myself, others are from an open call that we shared in Potsdam, Hamburg, Dresden and Munich, sometimes with old uniforms that are no longer in use, like the Pioneer uniform. We have a large collection of pictures. I also met young people from different cities: a boys' choir in Dresden, scouts in Munich, hockey players in Hamburg, as well as young people from Potsdam.
What can the experience of dance pieces trigger in young people?
Dance pieces can bring a lot to young people! Teenagers' bodies change a lot, but when I was young I was already dancing and I was proud of it. Dance can be a little remedy to look at the body in a different way. Dance can be experimental, surprising and unexpected. It's something very cool and appealing for young people to experiment with.
What is your background? What was your youth like?
I grew up in Israel. My youth wasn't easy - my parents got divorced, I wasn't so good at school - and I literally escaped into dance. It was a very beautiful and helpful place to strengthen myself. Then I studied choreography and art. I moved to Germany 10 years ago. Coming to Europe was a kind of liberation for me, which had to do with the fact that I was identified in a certain way in Israel, which was no longer the case abroad. In Germany, I was simply someone from Israel...