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  • AutorenbildDaniel Bernhard


Yes I am heartbroken, yes I feel anger, yes I feel slightly overwhelmed.

Yes, the upcoming premiere of "SEX", my new play, has been postponed, as Nationaltheater Mannheim canceled all shows until mid April. Yes, most likely my show at Radikal jung 2020 won't happen either. And I realize how most of my life revolves around actual physical human bodies connecting in real life to share moments of co-presence and aliveness. That's what my whole carreer and passion is about. It's also what I believe has the biggest revolutionary potential: Human bodies meeting. For a performance, an orgy, a demo. Hearing my siblings breathe next to me. Hearts beating. Laughing. Arguing. Protesting. Collective action seems to be needed now, more than ever.

But what if solidarity looks very differently these days: what if solidarity looks like isolation, "social distancing". limiting one's own wish for connection in order to avoid a total breakdown of the health care system?

That's so hard to take for someone like me.

I personally don't believe that bare survival is more important than to be fully alive and connected. The idea of prepping and hoarding food (and weapons) for one's own individual survival while the rest of the world goes to shit is a neoliberal nightmare to me and a solution for nothing. And if I imagine this shutdown of public life being the new normal, with all of us staying at home, watching Netflix, becoming even more easy to control, even more alienated subjects than we already are, I wanna vomit.

I personally rather die early but alive than to spend a couple of extra years in fear-driven survival- or zombie-mode.

But I am not alone in this. I want to acknowledge that many people have their good reasons to wish for safety measures and, yes, if the health care system breaks down, the most vulnerable in this society are affected. My actions in this crisis have implications. And above all, I want to base my decisions on love and compassion always, especially now. Now, what does that mean?

First of all, it means that I do take care to not accelerate this more than necessary. I welcome the cancellations as a way to signify to everyone that we are in this together. I do not question that there is another choice at this moment. While I want to stay vigilant about who has the power to announce a state of emergency and limit the ability to meet up in big groups of people I also say: If it helps to make the crisis more manageable, it is so right to follow these safety measures for a given amount of time.

But if health care officials tell me on the radio that cultural life is not necessary for survival and that getting together to indulge in "useless" contacts should be avoided, I feel alarmed. This does spark bad memories from the AIDS crisis. We are here to indulge, we are here to play. Not to be kept like cattle in animal factories who just eat and shit and procreate, maintained and managed just so their owner can reap profit.

And here we are hitting the core of why I find love and compassion the key answers to this pandemic:


No human, no cow and no pig and no chicken. But this is the reality for so many humans and others at this point. This moment in history can be a very fruitful one if it teaches me, you, us to practice solidarity and get a sense of togetherness, for real.

We are together in this and we either sink together or we rise together.

And in order to not let these quarantinings of whole countries be the entry point into Fascism 2.0, our solidarity with those who are weaker than us has to be extended beyond the nation states. To all humans. To all beings on this Earth. That's what Love tells me.

If we really care about the weakest parts of our human family, how can we uphold a form of "economy" that gives a shit about whether most people on this planet actually do not benefit from it or even die from it? Why are the weak and elderly of Germany a (justified) reason for people to drastically change their daily lifes and to tolerate huge limitations to their personal freedom, but not the landless, colonized, starving human siblings in another part of the globe? Why is it so hard to tackle the destruction of the natural world but so easy to mobilize whole societies for a threat that is much less scary than the ecological collapse at hand?

Many people might be asking themselves these questions. And this is what makes this moment also really exciting. This can be a date with love and solidarity. I already experienced quite some lovely moments of mutual support just in little moments during the theatre shutdown. I strongly believe that this is what will be the base of actual survival of the human spirit: Care, kindness, patience and generosity.

Today I talked to colleagues about this being a moment of heightened awakeness and clarity and that we actually like that feeling. It seemed quite crazy and a little shameful to admit that we all felt that way. Shit hit the fan and now it's there for all to see. It's not just an uncanny gut feeling that something somewhere is wrong. Everyone can see it clearly now.

The Apocalypse has been there all along. Many Indigenous peoples have been living in an ongoing apocalypse since their lands have been colonized. Workers and soldiers and mercenaries worldwide were never able to hide from the fact that violence is the base of this world system. Some of us in the west and global north could very well do so. Now we are all touched by this state of emergency. No one deserves this. But may it teach us some compassion. And may it spark the initiative to imagine a world beyond this. One that is ruled by kindness and interconnectedness.

Especially all the artists who can't do their usual work right now. Yes, the officials have to come up with a plan to support us when we can't work. And beyond that: why not use the time to bring all our creativity into play and envision a world where all beings survive a n d thrive? What are the stories, images, events that spark generosity and joy?

This is a bad moment for denial. I don't care if you know who built this virus in which lab or that it actually is all a conspiracy or whatnot. This is also a bad moment for standing above things and mock those who are buying loads of toilet paper and to proclaim how untouched you are by all of this. Swallow your superiority, guys. Accept what is. Admit that you are overwhelmed as well!

The next years might be quite a bumpy ride. I feel really well prepared for that. Not because I am rich, have a bunch of weapons and canned food in my basement. I feel prepared because I have great friends, because I feel stable and grounded in love, because I feel as part of a species that now has the ability to decide how to respond to this crisis. And it seems possible that this can result in radically new perspectives, in kindness, compassion and care leading the way.

How amazing it would be if this triggers a wave of Wild Love and solidarity on this planet! I believe that it is possible, even if travel and big events are not possible right now. We will find new ways, and may they be telepathic I am on board for that.

This was a long text. Thank you for reading. I love you. Wash your hands and don't forget to dance!

(Photo by Christian Kleiner in Carolin Gieszner's trippy set design for "SEX", which never came out in the end.)

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