An examination of gender identities

Interview with Kit and Balthazar about »THE 3RD BOX«

On 10 July, the Freiburg guest performance »THE 3RD BOX« comes to Ludwigsburg. The four performers let the audience take part in their journey of coming to terms with their gender and their identity and thus want to encourage self-reflection. Those who wish to explore the topic in more detail can take part in the »3RD BOX WORKSHOP«, which offers a safe space for exploration and exchange on four dates in the preceding week of July. Kit and Balthazar are performers in »THE 3RD BOX« and lead the workshop together with Gary Joplin. In the interview, they give insights into the process and tell us what was and is close to their hearts.

Balthazar is 29 years old and only started dancing three years ago. Chronic pain and his own non-binary gender have made his relationship to his own body very complicated, so he preferred to just watch dance before. In the meantime, however, a lot has happened and Balthazar enjoys performing on stage for »THE 3RD BOX«. Outside of this project, Balthazar has studied music theatre and gender studies and volunteers at Queer Lexikon e.V., an online contact point for queer youth.
Kit is 26 and studies in Freiburg. Kit's research focuses on the perception and representation of bodies, queerness and transidentity in popular culture. Kit also deals with these topics in a very practical way as a performer in »THE 3RD BOX«. Kit has learned a lot about gender, movement and their connections and now wants to share these experiences with others, on stage and in joint workshops.

Can you explain why the production is called »THE 3RD BOX« and what it means?

Balthazar: The project was launched in 2019, when there was a fairly new option to register »divers« as an additional gender entry instead of »male« or »female«. Strictly speaking, this is not the third option that exists in Germany, but already the fourth: since 2013, it has been possible to leave the gender entry on the birth certificate blank if a baby is born with so-called »ambiguous« genitalia, i.e. if it is intersex. But because a blank is not a gender and is also only seen as an interim solution by the German state, »divers« is considered the third gender entry. So we asked ourselves in »THE 3RD BOX« – who is this third box on forms for? What new gender box is being opened up and who belongs in it? Who are they helping, who are they hurting? In general, we have been dealing with these boxes. Men, women, non-binary people, we are all divided from an early age into categories that we are supposed to conform to. With this piece, we want to open up a space for everyone to take a closer look at their own boxes.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of making it? 

Kit: The first casting for »THE 3RD BOX« began back in winter 2019, when the project started with a group of young adults from all over the world developing a first version of this piece with the aim of premiering it in April 2020. Of course, everything then changed with the pandemic; the performances were cancelled and we had to move rehearsals into the digital space. After several online dance projects, we were finally able to meet in person again in December 2021, and off we went planning for a long-awaited performance in the spring. However, of the 15 or so performers in the original »THE 3RD BOX« production, only three were still in Freiburg. So with a new, much smaller cast, we started looking for a piece again. This resulted in something quite unique, which carries all these transformations and this prehistory within itself, but is nevertheless something clearly unique, which emerged from the intensive conversations and the dancing together of the participants.

What key messages do you want to get across with the play?

Balthazar: It's hard to put into words exactly what I'm about – especially when it comes to gender, I often run out of words. That's why dance is so helpful for me to communicate about it. With my body in movement, I can make it clear that both gender and the social rules we have for it are much less set in stone than words often lead us to believe. For me, a core of this piece is to question rules and categories and perhaps also to give an insight into what can happen when we dissolve boxes and blur boundaries. 

Kit: It is important to us that we do not want to represent groups. As performers on stage, we don't represent all men, women, or trans and non-binary people. We are just ourselves, and we can only express our own experiences with gender. But the special thing about it is that we all have these individual experiences. Gender is so different for each person. We want to bring that across to the audience: For example, we are not just »woman«, we have our very own history and definition of »being a woman«. This self-observation can break down many rigid categories.

Who is the previous workshop in the first week of July suitable for?

Balthazar: Actually for everyone who has a body. It doesn't matter whether you like this body or not, whether you move it a lot or not. The important thing is that you are curious. We all have our own experiences with our bodies and our gender; we want to talk and write about this in this workshop and look for new ways to express ourselves through movement. If you feel like trying out these topics and sharing them with others, then you've come to the right place.

Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++ Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++ Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++ Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++ Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++ Visit us on our open day at Palais Grävenitz! Saturday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. +++