Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus: "We very much regret that we did not deal with the incidents more consistently"
Photo: Stefan Ziese / picture alliance / imageBROKER
Accusations of racism have been shaking the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus for weeks.
In a guest article in the »FAZ« with the headline »In the trenches of vulnerability«, the professor of theater history and dramaturgy, Bernd Stegemann, announced his view on Friday - and thus caused the anger and incomprehension of numerous artists .
They now responded with a public reply.
The letter was written by the actor Mehmet Atesci, the director Angela Richter, the professor for theater management Thomas Schmidt, the actress Laura Sundermann and the dramaturge Sabrina Zwach.
A total of 1,400 theater professionals signed it.
Stegemann had criticized the racism allegations of the actor Ron Iyamus in the »FAZ« and took sides for the house and its actors.
Iyamu, a member of the ensemble since 2019, complained in March about "racist and sexist structures" at his workplace: "They are expressed in occupations, insults and a culture of silence." Because he was promised to talk about it over and over again, but nothing had happened, he has now gone public: »It's not about conjuring up a shit storm.
My aim is to show the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus that racism is not a sensitivity that can be accepted. "
Specifically, Iyamu accused Artistic Director Wilfried Schulz of letting directors work in the Schauspielhaus who are known to have “racist and sexist sayings”.
Later, in an open letter to the Minister of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), 22 black artists called for a "self-organized free stage that is independent of the theater as an active opportunity to withdraw from institutional racism".
In his guest article for the FAZ, Stegemann took up Iyamus' allegations, for example, explaining that the address "slave" was not unusual, as the actors who played Hamlet or the fools were often called by their role names.
A completely inadequate explanation, it says, among other things, in the reply of the 1400. To call a black man "slave" is "in no context appropriate".
And further: "It is a racist border crossing that turns open spaces into spaces of verbal violence." The authors of the letter demand respect and offer Stegemann to discuss the subject of racism and abuse of power in the theater with those affected.
The house misjudged the extent of injuries
Schauspielhaus director Schulz and the Düsseldorf management team apologized to Iyamu in a public statement after the publication of Iyamu's allegations: “We very much regret that we did not deal with the incidents more consistently.
That was a mistake. «The house had misjudged Iyamu's personal dismay, the extent of the injuries and, above all, the reappraisal.
The Schauspielhaus has been active against racism for many years, there is a diversity officer and anti-racism training courses.
However, the incidents clearly showed "that we have to work a lot more on our internal structures in order to identify and eliminate grievances (...)".