Alumni Interview: Janina Sieber

Janina Sieber is a freelance set and costume designer and architect. She studied in our master’s program in 2016-18. Afterwards, as a set assistant at the Münchner Kammerspiele, she also created some of her own work, such as sets for “Werther’s Quest for Love” and “Nirvanas Last” and stages for the queer party series “WUSS 3000″ and the Münchner Kammerspiele’s new “Habibi Kiosk” in Maximilianstraße, a post-migrant multipurpose store for cultivating radical alliances. She is a founding member of the Munich architecture and urbanism collective PointOfNoReturn, which develops alternative visions for a more vibrant city in temporary structures, resulting in proactive performances.

Did you already have your current career in mind when you began your studies at Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum?
Actually, a lot of what I had imagined has turned out to be true. I couldn’t have imagined the combination of relatively classical theater projects that are connected to an institution and the completely self-devised free projects any better. At the same time, it’s nice to see that my start as an architect is still part of my work, and influences my view of theater. What I wouldn’t have thought during the Masters is that I am now passionate about costume design, in addition to spaces. The intuitive work and the even greater possibilities for quick changes give me great pleasure and expand the possibilities of making productions by so much.

What do you particularly like about your job?
I find it incredibly fascinating how you build entire universes within a few weeks, often in a newly assembled team. I’ve always been interested in utopias and dystopias, and I really enjoy creating new ones. But the beauty of theater is that you can make even the smallest moment insanely big and exciting in order to inspire enthusiasm for the small everyday things.

What memories do you have of the TU BBSR program? What was special about your master’s?
Since a year consists of just under 20 people, you get to know each other very quickly and grow together. I really enjoyed the time in the large studio, cooking together in the communal kitchen, and the pub crawls through Wedding. Also, working in the place detached from the rest of TU felt like an enclave, which was liberating.

Looking back: what does studying at the TU mean to you today? How influential was the time at the TU for your work today?
My studies at the TU Berlin brought me to theater. I decided relatively spontaneously to give classical architecture a rest in order to devote myself to more performative formats, for example in urban space. My passion for theater has always been very strong, but I only really immersed myself in this enchanting world through the master’s degree and its practice-oriented teaching. I had considered going back to architecture for a while with my newfound knowledge, but the degree ultimately persuaded me to stay with theater full-time.

What did it mean to live in a cultural metropolis like Berlin while studying?
Berlin’s many theaters and the wide range of cultural offers made it possible to watch a lot of theater very quickly and thus to gain access to a broad spectrum of the arts, which I also learned a lot from and found very enriching.

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