Distrust, collaboration, refusal and uprising: nothing in the GDR was as secret and momentous as the working methods of the State Security – the Stasi. Innumerable employees and informers compiled data; today, their legacy offers an insight into this insidious and clever system of surveillance. The documentary music theater piece "Volk unter Verdacht" by the director Ulrike Ruf and the composer Iris ter Schiphorst assesses the GDR apparatus on the basis of original documents from the archives of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU). The focus is placed on excerpts from the documentary/literary protocols of memory recorded by the dissident Jürgen Fuchs; they were created during his imprisonment in the remand prison Hohenschönhausen. Together with the documents from the Stasi files, the personal relevance of mass surveillance for individuals becomes clear; they also demonstrate how the Stasi’s methods created a climate of fear and distrust. The fifteen-member choir – the Vocalconsort Berlin – represents society in a tension between individuals and the collective. The choir interacts musically and theatrically with the projected original videos and audio documents as well as the compositions by Iris ter Schiphorst. The audience experiences both the position of the perpetrator and the victim when it takes on the perspective of a Stasi employee or is subjected to the probing questions of an interrogator. In a participative process, "Volk unter Verdacht" explores the social effects of systematic surveillance in the GDR, which are still felt today. At the same time, it directs our attention to current standards of mass data collection.
Since the choir was to sing and perform the entire piece by heart without a conductor, unconventional spellings were sometimes necessary in the composition; here is an example from the last part of the score,
(at this point the choir had to come from behind very gradually, singing and pacing in tempo quarter=60):
excerpt from scene 6, p. 1+2