A woman full of hope
“Friedl Dicker”: Helios Theater features the Bauhaus artist
[...] Dicker stood out for her versatility at the early Bauhaus. She attended the architecture class, which was not intended for female students. “She wore men’s clothes,” says Barbara Kölling. “And she was accepted.” She took on bookbinding with her friends Anny Wottitz and Margrit Téry-Adler, she studied lithography with Lyonel Feininger, helped with textile production together with Walter Gropius and was fascinated by Paul Klee’s paintings in 1921. Klee’s motifs and his concept of art inspired her to work with children.
Friedl Dicker’s wide-ranging interest in artistic processes is also reflected on the stage at Helios Theater. Fixtures are based on the constructive language of the Bauhaus. Rings, geometric shapes and textile room dividers render materials tangible. Drawings on wide rolls of paper go beyond graphic art and hark back to Dicker’s childhood, when she grew up in her father’s stationery shop. The stage was set by artist Krista Burger.
For Helios Theater, which creates plays for children and young people, Friedl Dicker is also interesting as a woman of her time. “How were women perceived 100 years ago?” asks Barbara Kölling, and she wants to show her audience the courage women had to demonstrate in order to assert themselves. “Today, I like to talk to young women about traditional images,” says Barbara Kölling. At the Bauhaus, there was ultimately only one female master, namely Gunta Stölzl. Walter Gropius feared for the reputation of his art school, because more than 50 percent of the students were female. At a time when German universities were being opened to female students for the first time, this figure was unusual. But even at the Bauhaus, women didn’t only want to weave fabrics and make pottery. [...]
With her approach in the play, Kölling gives the main character several options. Three actresses talk about the Bauhaus artist and embody her on stage. In terms of dramaturgy, Kölling doesn’t rely on identification with the main character. To her, it’s important to provide room for associations. Accordingly, the stage features an open design. The audience experiences different play scenes and lighting techniques. Dicker is presented as a woman in a time that affects us. [...]
In 1930, Dicker set up a Montessori kindergarten in Vienna. In 1931, she taught teachers how to recognise children’s personalities and their artistic impulses. As a communist, she fled from the Nazis, first from Vienna and then from Prague in 1938, without taking the chance to emigrate to London or Israel. Why did she stay with her husband, with whom she was deported to the concentration camp Theresienstadt in 1942? The Helios Theater production also asks this question. Do people stay, because they can still effect some changes? Migration today can also be regarded in connection with the play “Friedl Dicker”. [...]
Above all, Dicker’s goals of strengthening children’s emancipation and identity, as well as encouraging young people’s sensual sense by teaching them to feel materials, are also the core goals at Helios Theater. “So much fits together!” says Barbara Kölling. She is amazed and a little speechless.
By Achim Lettmann, Westfälischer Anzeiger, 11.01.2022