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Against the art of forgetting

This year, the 18th F.I.N.D. Festival wrestles with bad memories (Apr 6-22).

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Photo by Camille Barnaud

This year, the 18th F.I.N.D. Festival wrestles with bad memories (Apr 6-22).

The Festival of International New Drama (F.I.N.D.) has come a long way since it started out 18 years ago as rehearsed readings of new plays at the Schaubühne. This year, it’s presenting 11 guest productions (all with English surtitles), two panel discussions, a poetry slam, a concert by new Krautrock trio Polypore and an opening night party introduced by drag queen Gloria Viagra. Its theme is “The Art of Forgetting” – an ironic motto given theatre’s role as a place of remembrance. And in fact, many of the productions constitute a refusal to forget. That’s certainly the case with Kind of, the most recent work by controversial Israeli director Ofira Henig. Kind of mines Henig’s memories of the education she received at the time of Israel’s Six-Day War, an education that marginalised Arabic and fostered xenophobia instead of discouraging it. As prospects for peace dim and the Israeli left withers, Henig offers a timely look at one way in which the right-wing chokehold on Israeli discourse evolved.

Other productions have a similar focus on sociopolitical violence. Spanish theatre artist Angélica Liddell, a favourite guest in Berlin whose work has long focused on issues surrounding pain, is bringing ¿Qué haré yo con esta espada? (Apr 6-7). The new work deals with two instances of violence in modern-day Paris: a Jeffrey Dahmer-like act of murder and cannibalism committed in 1981 by a Japanese exchange student, along with the November 13, 2015 terrorist massacre at the Bataclan theatre.

Colombian ensemble Mapa Teatro is bringing La Despedida (Apr 19-21, photo), the third part of its “Anatomy of Violence” trilogy: An abandoned guerrilla camp has become the locus for a “War of Memory” after the disarming of the FARC insurrection. The Colombian government has turned the camp into an open-air museum featuring re-enactments of crimes perpetrated by the guerrillas. La Despedida mixes the documentary with the fantastic – at one point, an Amazon shaman gets high with Karl Marx.

For tamer souls, Inflammation du verbe vivre (Apr 11-12), a solo work by French-Canadian-Lebanese theatre artist Wajdi Mouawad, sounds promising. Mouawad’s dramatic alter ego is Wahid, a writer and director working on an adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes. When the play’s translator dies, Wahid plunges into depression; stopping rehearsals, he takes a voyage through post-financial crisis Athens and discovers a country whose suffering – like that of Philoctetes – has been forced into oblivion. Don’t limit your selection to these four plays: if the past is any guide, just about all the F.I.N.D. productions have something to offer.

F.I.N.D., Apr 6-22 | Schaubühne, Charlottenburg