Knuth und Tucek
“Heimatfilm” meets cabaret
Schweizer Kleinkunstpreis 2019
Knuth and Tucek are actor Nicole Knuth, who was born in 1964, grew up in Küsnacht in a theatrical family originally hailing from Vienna and trained at the drama school in Zurich that is now part of the Zurich University of the Arts; and singer Olga Tucek, who was born in 1973, grew up in Zurich and trained as a classical singer at the conservatory in Winterthur. When not on stage as part of the duo, Olga Tucek also works on her own as a writer and performer of “Lieder” evenings. The pair have been touring since 2004, presenting a total of eleven satirical theatre and music programmes at countless venues in the German-speaking countries and earning themselves the region’s leading cabaret awards along the way: the Salzburger Stier (2011), Switzerland’s Cornichon cabaret prize (2013) and the Deutscher Kleinkunstpreis in the chanson category (2014).
Referencing the “Heimatfilm” genre of nostalgic cinema, their productions, which blend spirited vocal numbers with the sounds of folk music and grotesque everyday stories with political satire, fit into none of the conventional cabaret categories. Certain characteristic features run like a thread through their works, from “Heimat” (Homeland, 2017), “Rausch!” (Intoxication, 2014) and “Freiheit” (Freedom, 2012) back to their enduringly popular “Jesses Maria!” from 2007: a witty and eloquent take on the meaning of homeland in the Swiss context, delivered at breakneck pace with a bewildering mix of angelic voices, fiendishly acerbic observation and rock-band accordion. Favourite topics include political gaffes and everyday grievances. In 2016’s “Hexe!” (Witch!), for example, they explore the darker side of local history at the venue where they are performing. Ultimately, optimism and fighting spirit win out – and audiences are encouraged to practise civil disobedience at the earliest opportunity.
“In their ‘Heimatfilm’ theatre, these two spirited and dedicated artists create their own utterly unique form of political cabaret. Their satirical programmes are never a mere series of numbers: they are sceneries and stories constructed with great dramaturgical skill. They couple musical virtuosity with passionate storytelling, tackling topics that are politically relevant and often controversial. Knuth and Tucek have been faithful companions for fifteen years, sardonic and socially critical yet always full of gusto. The jury were impressed and won over by the urgency with which they address the abuse of power and social injustice.”
Barbara Anderhub, jury member