A theatre on a farm? That’s possible in the Odenwald. Jürgen Flügge assembles artists from Germany and around the world on Tromm mountain once a year.
When Jürgen Flügge steps out of the red wooden door of his home, the tall, bald-headed man with the short-shaven beard stands right in the middle of his theatre. However, you hardly notice this at first sight, unless the Trommer Sommer festival is taking place. Today, the old farmstead, which is nestled in a hollow in the small Tromm district of Grasellenbach municipality, looks almost like a normal farmhouse: with massive roofs, small windows, geraniums, half-timbering and a tractor parked in a corner. But the mural depicting theatre masks as well as the sculptures scattered all over the grounds and the full-windowed extension to the old barn give you an idea that something special takes place here.
There is no denying it by the first weekend in August at the latest: This is not a farm, but a theatre. That’s when the Trommer Sommer, a theatre festival for young and old people, is staged on Jürgen’s farm and all around it. He initiated the event in 1996 after a long-standing friend had come to visit and thought that the “theatrical courtyard” between the buildings should be used for something special. Since then, artists, actors and musicians from all over the world have come every summer. And so do thousands of guests who don’t want to miss the event. “We had 2,500 spectators in the first year,” Jürgen recalls with pride.
More than 25 years later, the dramaturge and theatre director, who has worked in Zagreb, London and Vienna, is sitting in the shade that the overhanging roof of the barn of his farmstead provides. He is wearing a white shirt and sandals and he is taking off the straw hat that protected him against the sun during the rehearsal for his current play just a moment ago. When he was a boy, Jürgen used to play Punch and Judy in the hayloft upstairs in the barn. Today there are “real” actors on stage. Jürgen founded the Hof-Theater-Tromm permanent theatre in the highest village of the Odenwald five years after the first edition of the Trommer Sommer festival. It is a “Theater auf hohem Niveau”, a high-class theatre on a high plain, as a banner on the front of the old barn promises. The windowed extension beneath is “the most beautiful theatre foyer in Germany,” as Jürgen says with a smile. Five steps lead up to the old hayloft that offers space for 99 spectators. Performances take place from March through December: stage performances, cabaret, music and readings—for children and for adults. The former cowshed has become a place for the performing arts. And graphic art works by artists from all over the world are on display, accompanied by old cattle drinking troughs.