Theaterkunst Talk

Monika Gebauer

The costume design for the new film “Kannawoniwasein!” (cinema release: Aug. 17th, 2023) was carried out by Monika Gebauer and her talented team. In addition to the costumes for the two children in the leading roles, the film features fantastic and sometimes surprising costumes worn by the adult characters outfitted. Gebauer has in the past frequently made use of costumes from our collection for her work, including for the productions “Real Life Guys – Do Something” (AT), the TV series “Sonderlage – Ein Hamburg-Krimi” as well as for various episodes of Tatort. She was nice enough to answer our questions about her work and about the issue of sustainability.

Poster and press picture: ©Lieblingsfilm, Sad Origami – Photo: Jens Hauspurg / Photo from set: Monika Gebauer


Monika Gebauer

The movie “Kannawoniwasein!” was just released. What was your first reaction to this project after having been mainly involved in the costume design for numerous Tatort episodes and other successful crime series?

At the start of my career, I worked on a lot of children’s series, so it wasn’t completely new to me. And I love changing things up. With the characters for this movie, we could really go crazy, almost as much as with a play.

I read the script, and immediately fell in love with the characters. I was a bit concerned that we would be using exaggerated colors and patterns, as is the case with a lot of children’s films, but the director Stefan Westerwelle and I had a lot of ideas in common.

Is there anything unique about children’s costumes? How did you go about creating the perfect costumes for the likeable runaways Finn and Jola as they embark on their adventures?

We tried to create two very realistic characters and to tell the story of an unlikely pair of friends. Finn is supposed to be someone whom a lot of kids can relate to, and Jola is a person who’s very unique, who only follows her own rules. She reminded me a lot of my own youth. At first Stefan wanted to make her hair blue like mine – I thought that was a nice compliment.

It seems like you and your team were really able to go crazy with the adult characters… Can you tell us more about the Friedrich-King-of-Prussia impersonator, or the sausage seller Anna Mateur?

Oh yeah, that was great. Each of the characters was allowed to tell their own special story in costume! Anna Mateur as Mrs. Schaumlöffel is based on a waitress at an American diner. I always had this notion of a lonely road through the desert, tumbleweed blowing by, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there’s this diner, with Mrs. Schaumlöffel working in it. The King of Prussia impersonator is a companion to the two kids, and helps them in an emergency. He’s based on pictures of the actual historical figure… And we had a lot of fun with the biker gang, and with Hackmack and Grandpa Heinz as well.

In addition to your work as costume designer, you’re also a certified Green Consultant for Film & TV. What led you to work in that area?

When the first corona break happened in 2020, I started paying a lot more attention to the issue of sustainability. After having changed a number of things in my private life, I started to make changes in how I work. We switched from vegetarian to vegan, and tried to get as close to zero waste as possible. After watching an episode of “Keen to be Green”, I became interested in actively trying to change the industry, and I wanted to gain the necessary knowledge for that.

The decision to do vocational training in that field was the right one, and even if I don’t work enough as a Green Consultant, I’m happy when I can engage people in discussions about green shooting on the set. It’s an issue that is, after all, pretty entrenched, so it’s important to open up a different perspective for the team. I’ve managed to make a few people more open to the topic, perhaps I’ve even persuaded some of them to make changes.

From your standpoint, where are we on the issue of “green costume design”?

I think we’ve come a long way. Actually, I can’t think of any colleague who isn’t trying to source as much as possible from a costume collection or from second hand. A lot of people are now paying closer attention to where they buy their clothing, and whether items have a seal or not.

We’re also starting to give more thought to what kind of supplies are used (eco-friendly washing detergent, for example). And the fact that a lot of people are using their own equipment and taking the leftovers from one production to the next is already a step in the right direction. By now, material and costumes that are left over don’t get thrown away, but are re-used, shared or passed along.

I’m also starting to see a shift in thinking with regard to transportation. A lot of colleagues are using cargo bikes, or are demanding that the production provides hybrid or electric cars.

But we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to plastic waste and the amount of stuff sent by mail and courier.

How do you benefit from a collection like that of Theaterkunst?

I love perusing your collection, because you have such a unique selection of items, and you can just wander through the decades. When I was looking for costumes for “Die Vergesslichkeit der Eichhörnchen” I was able to revel in the ‘60s, and we found so many beautiful pieces of clothing. Even my fear that we wouldn’t find any authentic swimwear was unfounded – you had the perfect swimsuit hanging on your rack! And there’s always someone willing and ready to help, who is putting thought into what would be the ideal piece for a particular idea, and where to find it. And with your fantastic collection, you help us achieve sustainability in costume design.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. See you soon at Theaterkunst!

See you soon!