Portrait: Friederike Baier – Data Science and Theatre

Portrait: Friederike Baier ©Leuphana/Marvin Sokolis
Friederike Baier is studying Management and Data Science at the Graduate School in the second Master's semester, and her great passion is theatre. Supported by the Language Centre, she wrote a play about a special encounter on the train. In mid-May, she took part in the FEATS international theatre festival in Brussels.

"The process of creating a play is like getting to know a person: piece by piece, a character or a situation gains sharpness the more details are added to it. They give a place a certain emotion and a scene its special atmosphere," describes Baier about her writing process. The student, who commuted a lot herself during her Bachelor's degree, describes an encounter on the train in her piece "Confab".

"Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger, a person you may never see again," says the protagonist. The play is written in everyday, unstated language, which makes the scenes seem real and tangible. There is no elaborate stage set, music or lighting. The focus is on the two actresses and their connection: Two young people on a crowded train meet while looking for a seat and finally find a place between mountains of suitcases on the luggage track. Although one of them wanted to read in peace, the other starts a conversation, first asking banal questions, later becoming more and more profound. The situation is anonymous, a fleeting encounter, and the two do not exchange names either: "It's about this one moment. We talk to each other now, but it won't affect our lives. We will probably never see each other again. Precisely because we don't know each other, we can talk so openly about personal things," Baier comments on the plot. After initial reticence, the two protagonists reveal more and more about themselves, share thoughts about personal relationships, about goals and their world view. No concrete reference to the present is made; the threads of conversation are reminiscent of typical thought patterns that many audience members probably know from their twenties.

The play was developed in the course "Dramatize this!", a programme offered by the Language Centre under the direction of Maryann Henck. Baier appreciates the diverse range of courses at Leuphana and the opportunity to take courses outside her own degree programme. "I have always loved writing. So the course appealed to me because you had a concrete goal in mind and you also got feedback," the student says. The FEATS theatre festival was Baier's first time participating in a theatre event with a play she had written herself. "In the past, trophies were awarded in various categories during the festival, but this time it was non-competitive," says the student. In mid-May, the plays selected by a jury were shown at a Zoom conference, and "Confab" received much praise and encouragement from the audience.

Baier is not sure yet whether she will turn her passion into a profession in the long run: "Theatre will always be a part of my life and I really miss being on stage. I could imagine trying directing again now that I've gained experience with it. I also really enjoy Data Science and I'm grateful that many doors are open to me."