Digitisation project: Meyerhold's biomechanics

With his theatrical biomechanics, W.E. Meyerhold - one of the essential theatre avant-gardists of the early 20th century in Russia - developed a new method of training and acting for actors in the 10s and 20s and made it the basis for a series of legendary productions of theatre historical significance. After its establishment in 1940 only a few artists were able to maintain the knowledge of this then forbidden acting method, among them Nikolaj Kustov. In cooperation with Gennadi Bogdanov, one of Kustov's students, the Mime Centrum Berlin has developed workshop formats for the dissemination and application of Meyerhold's method since the early 1990s.

Since 1991, the Mime Centrum Berlin has coordinated the Europe-wide organisation of regular working formats and practical theatre projects on theatrical biomechanics (first working demonstration in 1991 in the Berliner Ensemble), organised workshops in Italy, France, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as the first international working colloquium in 1993 in Moscow.

On the initiative of the Berliner Festspiele, as part of the exhibition "Moscow - Berlin. Berlin - Moscow" in 1995, and in cooperation between the Berliner Festspiele, the Hochschule für Schauspielkunst "Ernst Busch" Berlin (HfS), the Mime Centrum Berlin and Gennadij Bogdanov the first application of the method in contemporary theatre practice took place. Under the direction of Thomas Ostermeier and Christian von Treskow - at the time still students of the HfS - two productions were created that were unanimously and in part euphorically acclaimed by theatre critics. Since that time, Meyerhold's biomechanics have been a recurring element in the education of all courses of study at the HfS Berlin.

In 1997, the Mime Centrum Berlin together with Jörg Bochow published the book and film "Das Theater Meyerholds und die Biomechanik" ("Meyerhold's Theatre and Biomechanics"). In the same year, Bogdanov and Thomas Ostermeier jointly staged Brecht's "Mann ist Mann" ("Man is Man") based on theatrical biomechanics at the "Baracke" of the Deutsches Theater. In 1999, with the new appointment of Thomas Ostermeier as one of the artistic directors of the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Ostermeier and Gennadi Bogdanov introduced a training process in biomechanics for the new theatre ensemble. Over the years, the Mime Centrum has organised numerous projects and demonstrations of the training method in Germany (Staatsoper unter den Linden, Schirn Frankfurt/M, etc.) and developed, together with actors from Manchester (Great Britain) and Perugia (Italy), a small European network of practical theatre work.

Within the framework of the project for the reconstruction of theatrical biomechanics, which has been running for 25 years, an extensive collection of material was created at the Mime Centrum, consisting of audiovisual material such as Betacam, VHS, S-VHS, DV-Cam and other documents.

In 2018, the Research and Competence Center Digitization Berlin (digiS) enabled the digitization, distortion and contextualization of the objects collected in the ITI/MCB for Meyerhold's theatrical biomechanics. The aim of the project is to provide a comprehensive insight into this method and to make the existing knowledge in Berlin accessible.