Theatertreffen

About the Festival

Every year in May, the most important German theatre festival convenes theatre makers, journalists and guests from around the globe in Berlin. At the Theatertreffen’s core are the ten “most remarkable productions”, which are selected every year by an independent jury of critics from around 400 productions in the German-language region. Besides this selection of ten, the festival is structured in the following programmes and overarching formats:

The Stückemarkt is the oldest supporting initiative for contemporary drama in the German-language region and it invites theatre makers from across the world to apply for participation with their new plays or already completed theatre projects. The International Forum is an 18-day supporting programme for theatre makers from all parts of the world. And on www.theatertreffen-blog.de, emerging cultural journalists will review the Theatertreffen and bring transparency to the festival’s daily routines.

Yvonne Büdenhölzer
© Christoph Neumann

Yvonne Büdenhölzer (on parental leave)

has been the Theatertreffen’s director since 2012. She was born in 1977 near Cologne and studied German philology and educational sciences and worked as a dramaturge for various municipal theatres and independent companies. From 2005 to 2011, Yvonne Büdenhölzer was Head of the Stückemarkt of the Berliner Festspiele’s Theatertreffen. In October 2009, she initiated the symposium “Schleudergang Neue Dramatik – Zur Zukunft der zeitgenössischen Dramatik (Spin Cycle New Drama – On the future of contemporary drama)” at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. In 2009/2010, she was curator (together with Tankred Dorst, Ursula Ehler and Manfred Beilharz) and festival manager for the theatre biennial New Plays from Europe in Wiesbaden and Mainz. From 2005 to 2015 she was a visiting lecturer for the course of Applied Literary Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. From 2012 to 2015 she was a member of the Berlin Council for the Arts.
In 2018, Daniel Richter is the parental leave replacement for the director of the Theatertreffen.

Daniel Richter
© Christoph Neumann

Daniel Richter (parental leave replacement)

has been Theatertreffen’s Head of Dramaturgy since 2017. He studied Modern German Literature, Old German Linguistic and Literature Studies, and Philosophy at the University of Bonn. He has worked as a dramaturge at the Deutsches Theater Göttingen, the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus and the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin with directors like Nurkan Erpulat, Staffan Valdemar Holm, Falk Richter, Kevin Rittberger and Nora Schlocker among others. In 2010, he took over the directorship of the Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt for the Berliner Festspiele. From 2015 to 2017 he was director of the International Forum, for the 54th Theatertreffen he was co-director of the festival. He has taught at the University of Göttingen, the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Erfurt with a focus on stage dramaturgy, contemporary drama and culture/literature management.

Tel + 49 30 254 89-128

Daniel Richter
© Christoph Neumann

Daniel Richter

has been Theatertreffen’s Head of Dramaturgy since 2017. He studied Modern German Literature, Old German Linguistic and Literature Studies, and Philosophy at the University of Bonn. He has worked as a dramaturge at the Deutsches Theater Göttingen, the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus and the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin with directors like Nurkan Erpulat, Staffan Valdemar Holm, Falk Richter, Kevin Rittberger and Nora Schlocker among others. In 2010, he took over the directorship of the Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt for the Berliner Festspiele. From 2015 to 2017 he was director of the International Forum, for the 54th Theatertreffen he was co-director of the festival. He has taught at the University of Göttingen, the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Erfurt with a focus on stage dramaturgy, contemporary drama and culture/literature management. In 2018, Daniel Richter is the parental leave replacement for the director of the Theatertreffen.

Tel + 49 30 254 89-128

As early as 1963, one year prior to the first Berlin Theatertreffen, Berliner Festwochen invited five productions from German city theatres to Berlin – as a kind of pilot project. In October 1964, the first Theatertreffen took place under the title of “Berliner Theaterwettbewerb (Berlin Theatre Competition)” during the 14th Berliner Festwochen. Its basic structure was the same as today: Ten remarkable productions were selected by a jury of theatre critics and presented in Berlin. The founding declaration of Berliner Festspiele (1964) states: “The Berlin Theatre Competition is an attempt to present a selection of drama productions from the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the aim of giving not only an overview of the current state of German-language theatre, but also to give an opportunity for comparison – an opportunity that is particularly necessary given the isolation of the individual theatre cities. A committee of German, Austrian and Swiss theatre critics has selected productions from the 1963/64 season that seemed especially remarkable to them. The annual confrontation with each other may serve to turn the theatres’ present contactless juxtaposition into cooperation, and to once more find common standards that used to be set by Berlin as the theatre centre. The initial stimulus for this competition arose from the response to the guest performances from Baden-Baden, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Essen and Munich at the 1963 Festwochen.” Nicolas Nabokov was the Theatertreffen’s director during its founding year.

The well-known epithet of “showcase of the west” initially referred to Berliner Festspiele in their entirety. After the construction of the Berlin Wall, however, it became more politically charged and from 1964, it was mostly used with reference to the Theatertreffen. Although being a “showcase of the west” may not have been the chief reason given for the necessity of hosting the Theatertreffen, but the slogan was a welcome argument, especially during the Cold War. Repeated invitations to East German theatres long remained of a purely symbolic nature.

From 1965, the Theatertreffen operated under the term of “Treffen (meeting)” and was moved to May to make it easier to consider productions of the already running season. The festival was also separated from the other events of Berliner Festwochen. The title of “Theatertreffen” was first used in 1966. In 1967, the Berliner Festspiele GmbH was founded as a supporting organisation for the Theatertreffen. Gerhard Hellwig was the Theatertreffen’s director from 1965 to 1968.

1965 saw the foundation of the Theatertreffen’s International Forum (it was called “Begegnung junger Bühnenangehöriger” until 1973 and “Internationales Forum junger Bühnenangehöriger” until 2005). This makes it the oldest continually active institution of its kind. Initially an information and discussion event for young professionals from the Federal Republic of Germany (the GDR did not get involved in this format either), the circle of participants was extended to include participants from Austria and Switzerland in 1970, based on agreements with institutions in these countries.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Theatertreffen played a vital role in establishing new generations of theatre directors. Peter Zadek (21), Claus Peymann (19) and Peter Stein (21) were the directors who enjoyed the most frequent invitations to the Theatertreffen.

Walther Schmiedling was the Theatertreffen’s director from 1969 to 1972, Ulrich Eckhardt held the same position from 1973 to 1981.

In 1978, the Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt was founded as the first supporting initiative for contemporary drama in the German-language region. Prior to this, there had been no authors’ support and no platforms for as yet unproduced plays, much less any writing academies for emerging dramatists. During the festival’s first twenty years, the Stückemarkt’s directors selected five plays from among all those licensed for a first production, in order to present them to a broader audience during the Theatertreffen. There was no jury yet – the Stückemarkt’s directors were single-handedly responsible for the programme.

1980 saw the beginning of a cooperation between the International Forum and the Goethe-Institut, which opened up the International Forum to the world. At the same time, the Forum’s focus shifted towards practical work – after a phase of experimentation from 1975, workshops became an essential component of the Forum programme.

From 1982 to 1988, the Theatertreffen was headed by Ulrich Eckhardt and Börries von Liebermann. Torsten Maß was the festival’s director from 1989 to 2001.

In May 1989, only a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, theatres from the socialist part of the country were finally permitted to travel to the Theatertreffen. After the fall of the Wall, the original argumentation of the founding declaration moved into centre-stage again: The festival was to “give an overview of the status of German-language theatre” rather than a “showcase of the West”, which had been important during the period of West-Berlin’s isolation.

Since the reunification in 1990, the “showcase of excellence” has not lost its relevance. In fact, due to the fact that numerous international curators, artists, artistic directors and journalists from all parts of the world have visited the festival’s performances, the Theatertreffen has become a showcase of German-language theatre for the world.

The Stückemarkt expanded in 2003 to include authors from all over Europe, who were invited to submit theatre texts in their original languages. The presentation of new plays for an audience of theatre professionals was thus transformed into a competition for as yet unknown authors. Since then, a jury of experts sifts through hundreds of plays; and five to seven of them are presented as staged readings during the Theatertreffen.

Iris Laufenberg was the Theatertreffen’s director from 2003 to 2011, after Dieter Hansen had taken over the directorship in 2002.

In 2005, the festival-newspaper was launched. Until 2008, it was created in cooperation with Berliner Zeitung and provided a critical accompaniment to the Theatertreffen. In 2009, this initiative went digital and the festival-newspaper became the TT-Blog. Furthermore, the inclusion of English-speaking participants leads to a greater internationalisation of debates.

Yvonne Büdenhözer has been the Theatertreffen’s director since 2012.

In 2012, the Open Campus was launched as a place for theatre makers of tomorrow to meet and form networks. As part of this education programme, emerging actors, directors, dramaturgs, scenographers and theatre scholars from universities, art academies and theatre institutes from the German-language regions attend the Theatertreffen’s performances. They take part in the festival’s discourse programme und enter into an exchange on aesthetic and socio-political issues as well as their own interests and ideas.

In 2012, the Stückemarkt expanded its concept of authorship: For the first time, devised projects by theatre collectives were admitted to the competition.

Since 2015, the International Forum has focused increasingly on the global dynamics of social development, with the aim of investigating the theatre as a venue of the political public sphere. Since then, its workshops and discourse events have focused chiefly on the theatre between the poles of art, politics and society.

Since 2016, the Stückemarkt and the Federal Agency for Civic Education have been awarding a commission of work together.

The Theatertreffen’s international platform Shifting Perspectives was launched in 2017. It adds non-European perspectives to the 10 remarkable productions from the German-language region and reflects a broader spectrum of current social issues, aesthetic positions and pioneering trends.

The overarching discourse programme TT-Context took place for the first time in 2018, complementing the festival’s established artistic programmes. It will open a discursive approach to the Theatertreffen’s artistic programme by creating social, political and economic contexts and backgrounds and by taking the presented works as an opportunity to raise questions about our ways of living together, here and now. Furthermore this year, the Open Campus will cooperate with LiteraturInitiative Berlin (LIN) to include students from various schools in Berlin.

Documentary Theatertreffen 2017

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2017

All print media 2017

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2016

All print media 2016

[PDF, 4.3 MB]

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2015

All print media 2015

[PDF, 3.2 MB]

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2014

All print media 2014

[PDF, 2.6 MB]

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2013

All print media 2013

[PDF, 2.1 MB]

Documentary

Theatertreffen 2012

All print media 2012

[PDF, 5.8 MB]

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Theatertreffen

Database 1964-2018

The database with all productions, theatres and directors since 1964 as well as the Stückemarkt authors.