Make a scene for small art three

They have reinvented the central scenes: the curators Zoé Kilchenmann (left) and Yanna Rüger, as well as the architect Ralph Alan Mueller. In the background

They have reinvented the central scenes: the curators Zoé Kilchenmann (left) and Yanna Rüger, as well as the architect Ralph Alan Mueller. In the background, the "central top". (Image: Christoph Ruckstuhl / NZZ)

From the central stage, three become: The walk through the unfinished building with the creators and the architect shows how the theatrical spectacle extends its offer to the cabaret. Those who are interested can expect at least one more and more surprise from the festival festival.

Katja Baigger

Here the Scout romance begins. The rain jacket, hiking shoes and cargo pants are part of the basic equipment. Hammered and assembled between beige, blue and wood forklifts. But we are not in a forest, but on the Landiwiese of Zurich. Artisans, technicians and curators will spend another day Thursday afternoon at the ephemeral architecture of the Theater show for the 40th time to finish. More than a dozen sites need to be set up, and they are more than last year.

In fact, the "Zentral", which is a huge hit with the public, where about twenty selected groups present collections of cabarets and collections of hats that follow no longer "just" a scene. Spread over two floors, there are now three areas of performance. On the "ground floor" is a stage with roof and back wall and an open air. The first floor is a spacious terrace with a private area that serves as either a radio studio or a theatrical kitchen.

But who is behind this expansion? Yanna Rüger, dressed in a striped shirt and parka, heads straight for the office container, where various responsible people come in and out. She is one of the two programmers of the new central scenes and extends her hand in a good mood. With her great sense of serenity, she will have to stay home, nerves will probably be stretched several times over the next three weeks. At the same time, the 33-year-old co-curator is looking for her colleague Zoé Kilchenmann and festival architect Ralph Alan Mueller.

On the occasion of the 40th edition of the legendary "Speki", the trio reinvented the "Zentral" with the artistic director Matthias von Hartz, after the old stage became too small and quickly deteriorated. The lottery fund, the Zurich central bank and two foundations talk about this money. It has never been foreseen that the "central", built ad hoc seven years ago, meets such a craze among visitors, says Rüger. The leaders then had the idea of ​​an expanded stage, accessible to all levels. Now, what has long been an airlock, realized.

The rain-laden air around the central scenes will soon be filled with laughter, smell of food and perfume; in the previous year, some 150,000 people interested in culinary culture and interests visited the Landiwiese. But until then, Rüger, Kilchenmann and Mueller still have a lot of work to do for this festival. Since its opening in 2012, the "Zentral" has been considered as the paradise of the out-of-theater in the middle of more established troops playing on the big stages. Charming performances with hats are an attraction before and after paid performances.

The observation platform is back

Soon the co-curator and the architect are found, we walk in the wet meadow. Bringing the theater to the people was from the beginning the motto of "Speki", and it is the goal stated by Rügers and Kilchenmanns. After all, the rain has stopped. "We are curiously watching the weather forecast," they say, indicating one of the central floors still unfinished: the one without roof. This certainly has advantages, because for acrobats, there is no height limit of 5 meters or more, unlike in previous years. They could now invite trapeze artists like the Duo2Filles, who were flying in the air 10 meters above the ground.

But Rüger and Kilchenmann also know what rain means: either the performance groups have to go to the indoor stage and improvise or bear an increased risk of injury on slippery wood floors. "We still have muscle pain when we dry the stage," says Rüger, adding, "As a conservative, you can not be afraid of contact." The same goes for the architect, who helps in setting up.

Through a wheelchair accessible ramp, we climb to the first floor, called "Central upstairs". If we were in a forest, it would be the hunting seat from where we look. On the Landiwiese, however, the "prey" does not consist of wild animals, but special street performers, discovering a free spot in one of the coveted restaurants or a snapshot on Lake Zurich for Instagram.

After a few years without "viewing platform" such as the "Haus am See" has already been, the "Speki", as an artistic window on the world, now also features a physical location for a spectacular view. This is due to the architect Mueller, who was already responsible for the new entrance – whose airy vault recalls the treetops – and the filigree pavilion. The "central to the floor" with terrace and intimate stage space should be a place of exchange and pause. The focus is on Zurich as a city of immigrants. The Zurich-based Malaika refugee theater, for example, cooks people interested, while on the ground floor stage, you can see excerpts from the play "The kitchen is full!".

Again and again, the water is streaming over our heads. "The roof is not covered yet!", Calm the architect. We go down to the "ground floor". The trio has maintained the proven bar: a professional zone has recently been set up behind the scenes for theatrical audiences, acrobats and night broadcasters; Fatima Moumouni, a 27-year-old Slam poet, is a provocative anti-racist fighter who will present "the first night-time program for migrants in Switzerland" after 23 hours on 24 and 24 August.

On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, the program starts at 4 pm and is open to children. The German-Chilean band Marana, which transforms the scene into a magical underwater landscape, or the Zurich dance theater Mafalda, where the main character Vicky explores the world with a sailboat, are worthy of note. Special music is also on the program: the final point will be set for September 1st, at the Berlin jazz band Melt Trio. "A sound carpet should accompany visitors to the house," says Rüger.

Women before the art of jugglers

Meanwhile, we arrived in the tent of the "Cantina", where hungry artisans are fed. Yanna Rüger and Zoé Kilchenmann know each of them here. They select not only the artists of the central stage, but are also women of the art of juggling. Dozens of street artists, who come every year, especially from Spain and South America, but also from France and Slovenia, contribute to the zirconian atmosphere of the Landiwiese. "Spanish is our most spoken language," says Kilchenmann.

The two women and their two employees decide which dancers, wizards or fire-eaters to register and officially report at a marked location. Every day a new contest is made between who is allowed to play where and when. Slot machines for jugglers on the central stage award the Kilchenmann and Rüger prizes. Thus, the hierarchy between organized cabaret and street shows is a little broken. After the 2018 theatrical show, there was a long conversation with twenty jugglers. For the first time, they talked and parked for their RVs, where they spent the night. Kilchenmann and Rüger were surrounded by men during this discussion. "Why are there hardly any women in street art?" They wondered. "Does this is too hard? "With current programming, they have made sure to see more artists perform on central stages and on" juggling places ".

The police rarely come

The coordination effort remains constant during the festival. With the so-called Platzaufseher Klaus Geser, they meet every night for meetings. Be careful, for example, that the performance of sound juggling does not interfere with other performances. It still happens that street artists stand up somewhere without warning. Then the supervisor talks to them, he is always respectful, but determined. That the police must intervene in a Wegweisung, this happens rarely, says Kilchenmann. This has happened once in the last three years.

After a coffee, the tour dissolves. Kilchenmann looks at his smartphone: "You, Klaus wants to talk to us." And Mueller, 46, says, "I am very nervous, we are very athletic on the way, I hope we will have enough time for retail work." Say it and say goodbye to the central stages unfinished.