“Is directing an apprenticeship? Is it enough to know about acting, dramaturgy, lighting and stagecraft in order to bring classical or contemporary plays to the stage in a way that is entertaining, exciting, thrilling and insightful for the audience? Is someone who learns the art of directing at a university really a director after four years? Jan Philipp Stange answers this question with a loud "Yes!" in his graduation piece "Graduation Piece," while winking at least as vigorously. For sixty minutes at Studio Naxos, of which he is a co-founder and where he has staged various plays in recent years, he shows his bulging toolbox and how to handle it.” (Matthias Bischoff, FAZ, 8.11.2016)
“The loving, cautious, affectionate can be felt in all his works. If you want to better understand who Jan Philipp Stange is, you can take a look at his most recent work, "Abschlussinszenierung" from late 2016. Here, his biography is recounted several times, and Stange assures us that not a word in it is a lie. Still, it's all a highly fictional affair - the invention of an artist's biography. It is his final production, with Stange's almost American delight in the spectacle of initiation. The performance basically does no more than celebrate this conclusion. At the same time, it is a restrained reflection on what it means to become an artist, and thus to begin an artist's biography.”
(Peter Michalzik, “In search of the text of our time”, Radikal Jung Magazin 2017)
“The evening was visibly fun for all those involved around Willy Praml, who found warm words at the beginning for the young directing talent born in 1987, and can be seen as a friendly criticism of the nonsense of such final exams.” (Matthias Bischoff, FAZ, 8.11.2016)
“Two boys begin by describing the career of the little director-adept and his first steps on the path to art - on the recorder and on the piano. Then a lady appears who identifies herself as Stange's director of training, Friederike Thielmann, and stands on a plastic rock that has been hefted onto the stage as if by chance with the words "I am in the jury, and I have to judge. In addition, there is a pianist who plays Liszt and Ravel beautifully, a dancer and a fire-maker who conjures magnesium flashes from his torches. Some billowing fog and a rain simulation are not to be missed. As the icing on the cake, Abbas sings "The Winner takes it all" and off we go into the steaming whirlpool.” (Matthias Bischoff, FAZ, 8.11.2016)
Graduation Piece stages the artist’s own graduation – both the graduation ceremony and the final directing school exam. The professor who supervised the project also performs in this autobiographical monologue by Jan Philipp Stange, which reconstructs the key moments of his artistic education. She herself becomes part of the show that she has to assess and thereby becomes tangled up between her roles as an observer and a performer – with far-reaching consequences. She and the spectators are presented with a more or less spectacular accompanying programme, which includes celebratory speeches, songs and small showpieces. As the performance drifts off again and again, the narration is ultimately taken over by Narcissus, the mythological figure who perished because he was unable to recognise himself in his own reflection.
This production enquires into the conditions for artistic becoming and the criteria of art: what does a theatre production have to prove in order to be successful? Can a bachelor’s piece, with which the student enters the art market, attest to his abilities while still being critical of the market? What are the conditions of the production, the self-staging – and of the self? Graduation Piece stages the artist’s own graduation: it is a theatrical selfie about the conditions of theatre making and artistic becoming.
Premiere on 3. November 2016 at StudioNAXOS Frankfurt. Further Performances on 04.11.2016 and 05.11.2016
With Leonhard Dering, Shayan Horiat, Ranim Al Malat, Jonathan Penca, Willy Praml, Hannes Schmidt, Johannes Schmidt and Friederike Thielmann. Script writer and director: Jan Philipp Stange, dramaturgy: Annegret Schlegel, stage design: Josephine Hans, advice: Jakob Engel, assistant: Thea Philine Richter, light design: Johannes Schmidt | photos by Irina Ximena Perez Berrio
With generous support from the HTA and studioNAXOS.