50 Grades of Shame by SHE SHE POP. A picture album inspired by Wedekind’s spring awakening

annamaria monteverdi/ Maggio 10, 2019/ digital heritage

After its premiere last March in Munich, She She Pop are now showing a new version of their picture album inspired by Wedekind’s Spring Awakening and E.L. James’ erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey with older, younger and very young guests from the Berlin dance, performance and theatre scene. Based on Wedekind’s utopian models of education, the stage here serves as an educational institution and She She Pop and their guests form a faculty within it.


On two large panels onto which cross-fade images are projected, the different actors – old and young, children, women and men – are staged in a series of encounters. Through monstrous or simple presentations, and constantly shifting poses, different generations and genders, real bodies and fantastic figments expose. The experienced elderly stand next to innocent youth, or vice versa: no position is secure and nobody has reliable knowledge.

The experience of sex is constantly changing – it is historical, political, biographical, and conditioned by specific contexts. Even the most private declarations about desire, reproduction, gender specificity, and so on, are ideologies; they are smoke and mirrors, banal, dull or fictitious. Imparting knowledge is a form of penetration, just one kind of lewd sex game among many. Yet despite all these doubt and unease, sex education is still necessary. What is sex? What makes a woman a woman? What makes a man a man? What does a child know? The pan-generational teachers in 50 Grades of Shame rises to this challenge. The performers use their bodies and their accumulated physical shame as visual material.

50 Grades of Shame is concerned with creating, viewing, modifying and reinterpreting imagery: images in the form of ideals and norms, images of collective and individual desire, images as concrete examples, and as pornography, caricature and subversive collage. Together with their guests, She She Pop’s performers are working on a new theatrical format. The aim is to abandon the individual limits of the body, age, gender, shame and hard-won sexual identity in order to merge into new, collective image of bodies, live on camera. Each and every one of us, whether old or young, is naive despite all our experience, and has to teach others. Each and every one of us can imitate, parody and penetrate the other. The result is an ars erotica for the stage – a fusion of modern sex-education picture book and late medieval dance of death.


Concept: She She Pop
By and with: Gundars Abolinš, Sebastian Bark, Daniel Belasco Rogers, Knut Berger, Lilli Biedermann, Jean Chaize, Anna Drexler, Jonas Maria Droste, Johanna Freiburg, Fanni Halmburger, Walter Hess, Christian Löber, Lisa Lucassen, Fee Aviv Marschall, Mieke Matzke, Ilia Papatheodorou, Florian Schäfer, Susanne Scholl, Berit Stumpf, Zelal Yesilyurt.

Video: Benjamin Krieg. Sets: Sandra Fox. Costumes: Lea Søvsø. Music: Santiago Blaum. Artistic advice: Ruschka Steininger. Dramaturgy: Tarun Kade. Sounddesign: Manuel Horstmann. Lights:Michael Lentner. Technical Tour Support: Florian Fischer, Sven Nichterlein. Video Assistance: Phillip Hohenwarter. Surtitles: Anna Kasten (KITA). Production/PR: ehrliche arbeit – freies Kulturbüro. Freelance Communication Support: Tina Ebert. Financial Administration: Aminata Oelßner. Company Management: Elke Weber.

A production by She She Pop and Münchner Kammerspiele in co-production with HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg, FFT Düsseldorf, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt a.M. and Kyoto Experiment.

premiere, March 2016, Kammerspiele, München

Funded by the Berlin Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs and supported within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.


She She Pop: 50 Grades of Shame (Trailer) from She She Pop on Vimeo.

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