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375 Years of the Peace of Westphalia: Anniversary Opening with Giant Figure Theater "Punch Agathe

Giant showcase on Sunday: For the opening of the anniversary program "375 Years of the Peace of Westphalia" on April 23 at 1 p.m., the Osnabrück Puppet Theater offers a spectacular performance on the market square. The main character is the 16-meter-high Punch Agathe, considered the largest Punch in the world. The show is a highlight of the "Nature and Environment" theme week, which takes place from April 21 to 29 as part of the Peace Jubilee.

This story is adventurous: On her way to the City of Peace, Punch Agathe steals the 10-meter-long sword from the Hermann Monument in the Teutoburg Forest in order to dismember it - as a sign of peace - with citizens from Osnabrück in front of the city hall. Behind the production is an international team of artists who have currently set up their workshop and studio in the rooms of the former Filmpassage. In addition to the giant marionette, which is played over a large truck-mounted crane with several ropes, new figures for the performance are being created here.

"We are delighted that the anniversary program is now getting underway after about three years of preparation. The "Punch Agathe" project exemplifies the more than 50 participation projects made possible by the City of Osnabrück's funding in this anniversary year," says Wolfgang Beckermann, First City Councilor of the City of Osnabrück and Board Member for Education, Culture and Family. "Youth participation is a focus of this anniversary. That's why we are particularly pleased about the cooperation between Punch Agathe and the city's Music and Art School," says Patricia Mersinger, head of the Department of Culture and project manager for Jubilee 2023.

Four courses with a total of around 30 children and young people were involved in the on-site preparations. On the theme of peace, but also on the topics of violence, war and suffering, they designed small objects that find a place inside the giant sword. "One of our central concerns is to give children and young people self-confidence through creativity. Being in the immediate vicinity of the artists' collective in the Filmpassage and the direct exchange that goes with it is tremendously motivating for our students, as they see what energies art can release and what it can achieve," says Martin Fenner, head of the art workshop at the Music and Art School of the City of Osnabrück.

"In these times, an artistic statement on the subject of peace is not easy. Our sign should be to bring together the most diverse people and celebrate life together," says Florian Rzepkowski, director of the Figurentheater Osnabrück. Punch Agathe will be accompanied by, among others, the Congolese rapper Orakle, the Snuff Puppets from Australia, various artists from Argentina, Germany, France, Spain, the legendary Rabbatz Orchestra from the Ruhr area, the Osnabrück musician Shabnam Parvaresh from Iran, the hysterical Peace Doves from Krakow, the Fuck Border Hippo from Kinshasa and other creatures who are working across walls and man-made borders worldwide for a more peaceful world. "It's going to be big, loud and diverse. It should reflect this city and its self-image as a city of peace. Borderless," says Stefanie Oberhoff, artistic director of "Punch Agathe."

Background: Punch Agathe

"Punch" means "Punch" in English. "Conceived" was the 16-meter-high, white-skinned female puppet in Melbourne, first presented in 2018 by the Australian group "Snuff Puppets." Their work is a mixture of visual art, sculpture, design, technology, music, movement, performance and physical theater. The focus is on puppets - sometimes beautiful; sometimes grotesque - and the unpredictable ways they come to life. But also other animals and different kinds of characters.

Stuttgart artist Stefanie Oberhoff, visual artist, director, puppeteer and lecturer at the Stuttgart University of Music and Performing Arts, took the Punch Agathe puppet to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) to continue working on it with the Espacemasolo Center. Here Agathe became black. And an international collaboration between the institutions in Australia, Congo and Germany was born.

In 2019, the project was awarded the Dance and Theater Prize of the City of Stuttgart and the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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