Friedl Dicker

for everybody 14+

 

Friedl Dicker was an artist: painter, graphic artist, stage designer, interior designer. She built sculptures out of metal, puppets out of wood, wove carpets and murals out of wool, painted pictures, designed and arranged rooms... She is considered one of the most talented and versatile students of the Bauhaus in Weimar and a pioneer of today's art therapy. As a jew and a communist resistance fighter, she was prosecuted by the Nazi regime.

Born in Vienna in 1898, murdered in Auschwitz in 1944 - she died at the age of 46. She would almost have been forgotten - had it not been for two suitcases in the attic of the girls' home in the former concentration camp Terezín, two suitcases full of children's drawings...

Three performers, a director and a visual artist immerse themselves in the time of the Weimar Republic, the "Golden Twenties", the Nazi era - and in the story of Friedl Dicker. They explore questions about Friedl's life and the time and develop a play for young people.

 

PREMIERE: January 22nd, 2022

Ensemble

Performance: Minju Kim, Marylin Pardo, Bahar Sadafi
Text & Direction: Barbara Kölling
Stage: Krista Burger
Lights & Technic: Jan Leschinski
Video Material: Adrian Kölling, Benjamin Kurz
Assistance: Dennis Schiwe
Theatre Pedagogy: Shabana Saya

KulturKit NRW

For „Friedl Dicker“, we could produce a "KulturKit" for the first time: a case with different materials for the preparation and reflection of the theatre visit in school. Different topics from the play can be dealt with in subjects such as German, Literature, History, Arts and others: The art of Friedl Dicker, the historical context of her life, migration and life in the concentration camp Terezín. The "KulturKit NRW" is funded by Bildungspartner NRW, an initiative for the cooperation between schools and cultural education partners.

 

Press Comments

Never forget

Sneak preview of “Friedl Dicker” at Helios Theater

Hamm – While going through the most harrowing time of her life, she brought joy and relief to many children in concentration camps with her drawing and painting classes. In doing so, she became a silent heroine: the Jewish artist and student at the Weimar Bauhaus, Friedl Dicker, has never been in the limelight and has been quite forgotten today. All the more impressive, then, that Helios Theater has created its own play based on Dicker’s biography and the impact she left on the world. […]

The life story of the woman born in Vienna in 1898, who lived for art and culture, is told in a variety of levels and with different stylistic devices. For example, the role of Friedl Dicker is not played by merely one actress: Sometimes, Minju Kim takes on the role of Dicker, other times Josephine Raschke or Bahar Bahar Sadafi. All three performers are always on stage, switch roles, and at times take on the function of a narrator or provide an introduction to the historical context. This keeps the play, which lasts about 50 minutes, very dynamic and offers different perspectives; it also enables the performers to make use of the entire stage.

It is not only the play itself that is dynamic, but also the stage design – not least because Friedl Dicker herself was a stage designer. Dutch artist Krista Burger designed the stage at the Kulturbahnhof venue in such a way that the elements are shifted back and forth, thus drawing attention to different aspects. The use of multimedia contributes to the dynamic character of the play. For example, highlighting the moment when the Nazis took power and Friedl Dicker was persecuted as a Jew and communist resistance fighter. Video footage from the Nazi era is projected on various backgrounds, helping the audience to visualise it.

The play also does a great job illustrating the impact Friedl Dicker has left – both on art and on people. At the time, she had put what she had created in painting classes in Theresienstadt into a suitcase, which was discovered after the liberation of the concentration camp. Its contents were then used to stage a celebrated exhibition. Also featured are voices offstage, as the children who had attended the painting classes talk about Friedl Dicker’s influence on their lives. Dicker herself did not live to hear it; she was murdered by the Nazis. […]

By Rabea Wortmann, Westfälischer Anzeiger, 02.11.2021

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

Art on her mind until the end

Helios Theater puts “Friedl Dicker” on stage

Hamm – […]Thematically, the sparse stage design is based on the no-frills formal language of the Bauhaus in Weimar, where the protagonist was a universal artist from 1919 to 1923. […]

Original film footage from the appalling era of National Socialism is a particular highlight. Initially reduced to translucent screens, on which the with the shadows of the actresses are projected, it is then magnified almost explosively across the entire width of the stage, only to collapse into a black nothingness that lasts for several seconds. Dicker’s work is also portrayed both before and after her time at the Bauhaus. Later in the play, the time she spent in the Theresienstadt concentration camp takes up centre stage.

[…] It is certainly a unique feature of Dicker’s work that she gave art lessons to the children in the concentration camp with great passion, knowing full well that her own life was forfeit.

It’s probably fair to say that this play has succeeded in doing justice to her invaluable artistic contribution in general and her work as an art teacher in particular.

By Wolfgang Spiralke, Westfälischer Anzeiger, 24.01.2022

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