CONVERSION: A German-American Chogeography

Funded through the Doppelpass-Program by the German Federal Cultural Foundation 2013–2015

The Search

In the course of our research work in Heidelberg regarding the closing of all US military installations in the city, we are looking for German and US citizens, who have any kind of connection to the presence of the American troops in Heidelberg between 1945 and 2013.

This connection may have been established through service in the US Forces, private or professional contacts, family members, friends or other encounters. Also we would like to get in contact with American and German military personnel or veterans who have served in Afghanistan in order to conduct an interview in or around their home or workplace.

The Project

After nearly 70 years of continuous presence in Heidelberg nearly 8.000 US soldiers and their families are leaving the city. This process marks the end of an era and has been the initial point of a two-year collaboration between the Hamburg based costa compagnie and the Theater and Orchestra Heidelberg.

Under the title CONVERSION the time of the U.S. military presence will be resear-
ched, analyzed and transformed into interdisciplinary performances. These will be staged at the former military installations as well as at the theater of Heidelberg itself. The current spatial conversion process within the city has created the initiating conceptual impulse for the project. The objective is to lay open the traces of this era, look into the stories of „the occupation force“ and „the occupied“, of neighbors and colleagues, of friends and fellows and approach the past 70 years of German-American history and partnership.

In the first year, we will follow the leads from Heidelberg back into the world and visit former US soldiers and their families in their hometowns in the United States.

There, we will collect individual stories and memories in form of interviews, as well as video footage and digital audio. This material will be the base for the artistic en devour.

In the second year of the project, research will take place in Afghanistan. The phase will focus on the local troop reduction of the allied German and American forces in 2014. The aim is to analyze current forms of military presence abroad and to look into an example for the development of the German-American relationship within the past 70 years.

Relevant overall questions along the phases are: How do Americans relate to the city of Heidelberg and their former posts? How has the German-American relationship developed in the past 70 years? Which traces does a military presence leave behind on both sides? Where do world politics meet everyday stories?

In July 2014, the first premiere will take place at a former US military installation in Heidelberg. In May 2015 a second large work is shown at the two main stages of the theater. The basis of the project will be formed by the two research trips, which are being accompanied by laboratories and workshops in Heidelberg. The collected material is also displayed to the public in form of lecture performances, an audio-walk through the barracks and academic symposia.

Who we are

The costa compagnie was founded in Hamburg in 2009 and consists of members from the areas of directing, choreography, music, performance, visual arts, video and drama. The independent group focuses on global transformation processes as well as on the individual facing disaster. In their recent work

“Fukushima, my love,” the group researched in Japan, collected many personal interviews and transformed the results into a dance-performance in Hamburg with subsequent shows in other national theaters.

The Theater and Orchestra Heidelberg was founded in the mid-19th century and celebrated its re-opening after three years of renovation and construction in November 2012. The house includes autonomous sections of opera, drama, dance, children’s theater and an own philharmonic orchestra. It stands for high-class ensembles, continuous support for contemporary authors and a keen interest in modern theater and opera forms.

For further information please visit: and


Felix Meyer-Christian / Director
Phone: +49.152.5364.2837

Stawrula Panagiotaki / Literary Adviser
Phone: +49.177.972.2379

Stawrula Panagiotaki / Literary Adviser
Phone: +49.177.972.2379