Until 2022, the Stückemarkt presented new authors and artists from all over the world, who expressed themselves in a wide variety of theatre formats – from dramatic texts to performance projects.
Until 2022, the Stückemarkt searched for new forms of authorship and innovative theatre languages. In an international open call, authors and theatre collectives submitted their theatre texts and projects. A jury of five artists selected five works from among all submissions. The selected works were presented during the Theatertreffen in a format that corresponded to their artistic form – as guest performances, staged readings, site-specific performances etc.
To promote sustainable support for artists, Stückemarkt commissioned a new work each year from 2007 to 2022, funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb. This commission was awarded to one of the invited artists at a public event during the festival and entailed the production of a new work at the respective partner theatre of the Stückemarkt.
The Stückemarkt at the Theatertreffen is unique. In 1978 it was founded as the first-ever funding initiative for new drama in German-speaking countries. Before then, little support existed for playwrights, there was no platform for unperformed stage plays and there were no writing schools for emerging dramatists. The Stückemarkt aimed first and foremost to introduce new drama into theatre repertoires.
Since its founding, more than 200 playwrights have participated in the Stückemarkt. Many of these play a defining role nowadays in the new drama of theatre repertoires, starting with Elfriede Jelinek whose play “Was geschah, nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte oder Stützen der Gesellschaft” (What Happened After Nora Left her Husband or Pillars of Society) was invited to the festival in its first year and which had hitherto been an insider’s tip in Austria.
During the first twenty years of the festival, the artistic directors of the Stückemarkt annually selected five plays whose premiere rights were still free to present to a wider audience during the Theatertreffen. At that time, there was no jury: the Stückemarkt director was solely responsible for the programme. Until then, the Stückemarkt had been directed by Jürgen Fischer (1978), Ellen Hammer / Peter Krumme (1979), Sigrid Wiegenstein (1980–1984) and Klaus Völker (1986–2002).
In 2003 the Stückemarkt widened its selection to include playwrights from all over Europe, and scripts could be submitted in their original language. From 2003–2004, the Stückemarkt was directed by Antonia Lahmé. A contest for unknown playwrights developed out of the presentation of new drama for theatre-makers. Since then, an expert jury has sifted through hundreds of plays, of which five to seven are presented during the Theatertreffen as staged readings. In the past ten years, the Stückemarkt has provided new impetus for the support of dramatists, placed its focus on new and re-discoveries in stage writing: prizes and commissioned works, as well as cooperations with theatre partners and a radio broadcaster have been introduced, an international network has been set up, plays have been translated into English, master classes and dramatist workshops have been carried out and a one-year mentorship for playwrights has been established. With the TT symposium “Schleudergang Neue Dramatik” (New Drama In A Spin) the Stückemarkt took further steps in collaborating between dramatists and theatres, such as the expansion of playwrights-in-residence. In 2012 the Stückemarkt broadened its definition of authorship: For the first time, projects by theatre collectives were admissible too. A performer-duo was invited to develop its concept in the newly founded project laboratory and to present the result during the Stückemarkt. From 2005–2011, Yvonne Büdenhölzer took over the direction of the Stückemarkt. In 2010, the Stückemarkt was directed by Daniel Richter and Friederike Jäcksch.
On its 35th anniversary in 2013 the Stückemarkt took stock and looked to the future: 35 playwrights who had already been invited to the Stückemarkt were presented once again with a new work. 30 authors wrote short texts on the theme of “Wohin? Verfall und Untergang der westlichen Zivilisation” (Where to? The Decline and Fall of Western Civilisation), including Herbert Achternbusch, John von Düffel, Elfriede Jelinek, Oliver Kluck, Dirk Laucke, Anne Lepper, Philipp Löhle, Wolfram Lotz, Marius von Mayenburg, Roland Schimmelpfennig, Einar Schleef, Werner Schwab and Nis-Momme Stockmann.
In 2014 the festival continued to present new models of authorship that had begun with the project laboratory in 2012 and the festival anniversary in 2013: For the 36th edition of the Stückemarkt, three Theatertreffen mentors went in search of artists developing new forms of theatrical expression. In 2015, the selection process for the Stückemarkt was developed further: A jury of five artists and an open competition were reinstated, and new selection criteria were introduced, applicable to both theatre texts and theatre projects alike. Christina Zintl directed the Stückemarkt from 2012 to 2018, with Verena Harzer taking over in 2014 and Diana Insel in 2017.
The Stückemarkt Commission of work funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb has been awarded since 2007. With the 2019 Stückemarkt under the direction of Maria Nübling, the competition was launched for the first time world-wide. In 2021, the leadership was handed over to Anna-Katharina Müller. In 2022 the last edition of the Stückemarkt took place.