Documentation is a door between the past and the future. Despite the robust development of Hong Kong’s performing arts industry, its documentation is somewhat moving at a rather slow pace. That’s why dialogues with “foreign powers” count most in improving the development. While Mr. Ondřej Svoboda (Czech Republic) shares his invaluable experience in managing theatrical arts archive, Mr. Paul Tischler (Germany) demonstrates his wisdom of performing arts publication and multi-media representation. Besides the dialogues, both Ondřej and Paul will take part in “A Future Called Documentation—International Exchange on Performing Arts Documenation” (20-22, Mar 2020) co-organised by International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, as speakers of opening and closing speeches respectively.
Dialogue with Paul Tischler (Germany)
Being Managing Partner of German theatre magazine Theatre der Zeit (TdZ) since 2011, Co-founder of bookstore Einar & Bert in 2014 and Founder of website www.stagebooks.shop in 2017, Mr. Paul Tischler is a prolific and veteran publisher in the theatre world. Besides and beyond publication, TdZ has its own music label, Hook Music to connect the theatre with popular music distribution.
Rep：Repazine of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre ｜PT：Paul Tischler
Rep: As the Managing Partner of Theatre der Zeit (TdZ), how do you position TdZ in the theatre world? Also, TdZ being a powerful stakeholder in the German-speaking circle, would you tell us more about its worldwide circulation and current development?
PT: At Theater der Zeit we look for the great in the small and the small in the great. We pay just as much attention to works in rural areas as to large productions in metropolises and find that often the same questions, problems and challenges exist. First and foremost, we position ourselves in the German-speaking market. But many of our publications are also in other languages because they each have their own international content. In this case, we look for sales opportunities and try to expand them. The intensive international exchange in theatre fascinates me tremendously. We are honoured that our magazine Theater der Zeit, which is finally published in German, is known and appreciated abroad. Surprisingly, we have subscribers who do not speak a word of German. 78% of our subscribers are in Germany and 22% abroad. We distribute special editions with specific country focuses outside Germany with the help of our partners, usually the theatre institutes of the respective regions.
Each year in September, Theater der Zeit publishes a bilingual special edition in the respective national language and in German with a country focus.
Rep: What inspired you to come up with the idea of establishing Einar & Bert (E&B) and www.stagebooks.shop? Is there any synergy or collaboration between these two great establishments?
PT: With stagebooks.shop we provide a platform that explicitly addresses theatre people abroad. The idea for this came from the observation that our theatre bookstore Einar & Bert is frequently visited by foreign-language theatre people who have the books sent to them or take them with them. The interest and enthusiasm of the visitors always fills me with pride and joy. After the experiences of our book sales at the World Stage Design Taiwan 2017 we decided to collect theatre books from all publishers at home and abroad in order to offer them on an English-language webpage with international dispatch. It is not easy for customers to get the books elsewhere, because it is a niche and often there is no organised distribution behind the book projects. Unfortunately, many valuable books are only produced for a specific occasion and distributed locally.
Einar & Bert (Photo: Viviane Wild / Einar & Bert)
Einar & Bert (Photo: Holger Herschel / Einar & Bert)
Rep: As regards the German Bookstore Award 2017 (E&B) and the German Publishing House Prize in 2019 (TdZ), would you share with us some past or current successful projects of E&B and TdZ?
PT: There are book projects that stand out and are a lot of fun. For example, the catalogue for the Passion Plays 2020 in Oberammergau, where we will publish a German and an English edition. For almost 400 years the villagers of Oberammergau have been performing the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every ten years, which has meanwhile become a huge international event.
The cover of the catalogue for the Passion Plays 2020 in Oberammergau
For me, those projects that combine all areas of Theater der Zeit are also very successful, e.g. a book publication by the actor-musician Christian Friedel and his band, Woods of Birnam with enclosed music CD. The music CD is distributed by our music label, Hook Music. The book is published by our publishing house, readings and concerts take place in our bookshop and everything is presented in our magazine.
Music album and publication, namely Searching for William, created by Christian Friedel and his band, Woods of Birnam.
Exclusive coverage of Searching for William in Theater der Zeit
Bookstore turned into concert hall! Performance by Christian Friedel and his band, Woods of Birnam in Einar & Bert. (Photo: Viviane Wild / Einar & Bert)
Rep: Why we need to do documentation for performing arts? And what will you foresee in the future of performing arts publishing world? Let’s say any new challenge or opportunity?
PT: The documentation of theatre enables a discourse and over the years creates an astonishing archive from which we can draw today and which helps future generations to understand history, society and art trends. The medium of theatre is local and ephemeral, while documentation is at best ubiquitous and consistent.
Rep: Have you ever been to Hong Kong? And what will you expect and want to share in “A Future Called Documentation: International Exchange on Performing Arts Documentation”?
PT: I haven't been to Hong Kong yet, but I'm very happy to meet colleagues and exchange ideas with them.
All photos were provided by the interviewees.
Repazine of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre:
（Source: Issue 28, Dec 2019《Hong Kong Repertory Theatre’s Repazine》）