Theater in leipzig: creation for the ivory tower

"Hypezig", "Hypey": The play "Gewonnene Illusionen" ("Won Illusions") starts at the Neues Schauspiel and takes a critical look at the hype surrounding Leipzig.

What was in the beginning: the residents, the followers or the hype? Photo: Rolf Arnold

Actually, this is no place for a stage with an audience: In the foyer of the Leipzig Schauspielhaus, a television studio is set up in front of the entrances to the stalls. Between the four discussants stands a glass table with a golden stand in the shape of the Leipzig skyline. The window dummies all around show the city brightly lit in the twilight. "Kulturm – Kultur im Elfenbeinturm" is the name of this parody of television literary quartets staged here by the Schauspielhaus ensemble. It is part of the play "Gewonnene Illusionen" by Jorg Albrecht, which premiered at the Schauspiel on Sunday.

The piece is the second part of the series "Ceci n’est pas un Hype", which takes the hype around Leipzig for a ride with humor and irony. The term Hypezig was coined five years ago by author and blogger Andre Herrmann, which he now regrets: many saw it as a compliment, but he had meant it as a criticism. Even before that, there was no end to the articles about whether Leipzig was "the new Berlin" or "the German Paris. A self-fulfilling prophecy: the greater the hype, the faster the gentrification in the city.

The ivory tower dwellers in the studio don’t care: they rant self-indulgently, argue affectedly, and advertise – or anti-advertise – Leipzig. The series they are discussing is set in Paris, but it was filmed in Leipzig: "I can’t hide the fact that Leipzig is simply the more affordable Paris!" the tourism manager shouts to the group.

The entire theater building is transformed into scenes of hypezig debate; in the stairwell is the "Palais Royal," a shopping center with miniature golf and a pop-up real estate store. There is even a prayer room of gentrification. In parallel, the creation story of the city is staged on another stage. The question in the room is what was in the beginning: the residents, the people moving in after them, or the hype?

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Every member of the audience sees all parts of the play, albeit in a different order and divided into three groups – logistically this is impressive, in terms of acting many parts are first-class, dramaturgically every stage offers a new surprise. So it is definitely worthwhile to see everything. But you need stamina, the play lasts three hours.

"Gewonnene Illusionen" will run twice more in October, November and April at the Leipzig Schauspielhaus.