About the 10 Treffen

A series of events and both artistic and creative interventions opend 2023 new resonance chambers for the long-standing Theatertreffen on a European level.

The 10 Treffen (English: 10 meetings or encounters) took place over the entire duration of the festival in a variety of formats, including performances, actions and discussions – as opportunities for encounters before and after the performances, often happening during the daytime or late into the night: in foyers, exhibition halls or in the garden. They framed, beguiled and embraced the 10 remarkable productions selected for the festival and endeavoured to formulate (no) common ground from which to explore the relevance of possible perspectives for the future of Theatertreffen, and at the same time test them in a first attempt. The aspect of meeting in all its various manifestations – both of exchanging ideas and discourse and of convening and colliding – played an essential role.

“In our preparations, we often encountered a question that will be an issue for the future development of this festival in a variety of ways: Who has the privilege to not know…? This question can be complemented in various directions and is reflected in different ways in all 10 Treffen, which we see as a European-level resonance chamber for the 10 remarkable productions of 2023. The programme and future orientation of these events are developed in co-operation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb.”

Olena Apchel, Carolin Hochleichter, Joanna Nuckowska

The 10 Treffen 2023

Responsibility Treffen: War in Europe

There has been war in Europe for nine years now. For the first eight years, it was fought in the southeast and east of Ukraine, in Crimea and Donbass. But only since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops in February 2022 has it been called war in this part of the world, inevitably putting European values to a severe test. Who is responsible? Eight years of indecisive policies are under scrutiny – eight years that saw great unease in Europe and yet lacked any resolute stance and corresponding political action. The 2023 Theatertreffen asks how we can show a sense of responsibility towards those who have lost the personal and structural requirements to work in theatre and create art, and discusses current instances from the Central European region.

Solidarity Treffen: People without Country. Country without People

Looking at war and responsibility inevitably leads to the question of how disparately privilege is distributed and which necessary solidarity results from this fact. The Solidarity Treffen will look at the Belarussian protest movement and the emerging opposition to the Lukashenko-regime, political repression and changing discourse in the face of the escalating war in Ukraine. In Belarus, there are hardly any tools left for monitoring the adherence to fundamental human rights. Activists and members of the opposition have become political prisoners. Who has the privilege of not being arrested or forced to emigrate? Who has the privilege of not having to fight and defend themselves? Who has the privilege of not having to give up art? How can we exercise solidarity with Belarussian artists who are unable to show their art under the dictatorship?

Herstory Treffen: Women at War

One quarter of the Ukrainian army is made up of women. Pacifist feminism has thus become a privilege that will be the topic of the Herstory Treffen. It is an attempt to trace processes and consequences immediately inscribed into the century-old struggle for independence as a woman, to focus on activist practice and volunteer work and to point out transformative ways towards overcoming individual and collective traumas. After all, we are looking into the future of a country that faces decades of rebuilding once the war is over. What kind of feminism emerges in militarised societies who are in a constant state of defence, where war and gender are an immediate experience rather than a concept? Who has the privilege of not having a clear attitude towards the war, of not having to fight, of not losing their future in this present war? Who has the privilege of not having to be a woman at war?

Transfeminist Treffen: Transnational Solidarity

The Transfeminist Treffen will look at feminism and its power to create solidarity. Together with activist-artistic collectives who work in Berlin, Prague and Poznań, Zofia nierodzińska invites you to explore recipes for our present times. At Theatertreffen, this gathering will become a feminist, political process, exercising transnational solidarity beyond the borders of the European Union, and providing a platform for encounters and discussions.
 In addition, we will present the book “Status Quote. Theater im Umbruch: Regisseurinnen im Gespräch” that was edited by the Theatertreffen-jury members Sabine Leucht, Petra Paterno and Katrin Ullmann and will be published by Henschel Verlag on the occasion of the 60th edition of Theatertreffen. It explores the theatre as a place of work from the perspective of the invited female directors: What has been the effect of the female quota introduced at Theatertreffen in 2020, and what did it reveal?

Diversity Treffen: (No) Access

Where does Theatertreffen stand today? Could one strengths of art in today’s antagonistic world lie in its ability to create disruptions of the mundane and to disturb our apparent normality? Our perception of reality occurs through our bodies. Therefore, Diversity Treffen will focus on the variety of bodies. We will examine the definitions of norms and deviations, the differences in participation in the cultural life: The group of people who enjoy access to art and culture as a matter of course – and the many others who don’t have this privilege.

Green Treffen:  Complexity of Crisis

Since 2021, Theatertreffen’s Green Ambassadors have been swarming out into the foyers and offices of their own cultural institutions and beyond. Their mission: to help making ecological sustainability in culture operations become reality. This also means that they are ambassadors of the complexity of crisis. In fact, we really need ambassadors for all of our Treffen-events: ambassadors who rephrase the complexity of our world into required responsibility and translate attitudes into action. 
 The Forum Ecological Sustainability in the Theatre will once more meet in several workshops that will enable participants to enter into a practical and theoretical dialogue on issues concerning the ecological status quo in the theatre and the changes that must be made. Together, can we formulate criteria of ecological sustainability that will influence future selections of the ten remarkable productions? Can we challenge the privilege of art of not having to limit its freedom by such criteria of sustainability?

Exchange Treffen: Exchange as an Added Value

This year, the participants of the International Forum will exchange their perspectives on the 10 remarkable productions and the 10 Treffen at Gropius Bau. The invited artists from different aesthetic, cultural and political backgrounds shape this forum into a space for thought and experience, and as a transnational network, the International Forum promotes the circulation of socio-political knowledge and aesthetic practice beyond national or other borders. During the festival, we will open the doors to the International Forum and invite visitors to participate. Students from universities, art academies and theatre institutes as well as Berlin pupils will attend the Theatertreffen’s programme in the framework of Open Campus to begin an exchange about aesthetic and socio-political issues as well as their own interests. At the end of the festival, members of the International Forum and the Theatertreffen-Blog will join the Theatertreffen-jury to talk about the ten invited productions in a concluding discussion.

Emptiness Treffen: Democratic Meditation

Facing difficult questions alone together. Sometimes the overall volume of input, action and reflection also requires active, concentrated silence. Emptiness Treffen will provide such a space of nothingness in the middle of the festival’s vibrant sound. 

Network Treffen: Meetings of Meetings

For the first time, the wide variety of Network Treffen, some of which are discursive and provide opportunities to exchange ideas among each other, will not only address the 10 remarkable productions but also meet in the context of the other nine Treffen, lending powerful expression to the strength of Theatertreffen: a great gathering, a collision, both convivial and critical. The Network Treffen encompass already established meeting formats of Theatertreffen – prizes will be awarded, ideas exchanged, existing connections are nurtured and new ones are created. Could it be up to everyone to carry the topics and approaches of other meetings into the Network Treffen and thus into the theatre landscape as such, and to design strategies with the other networks to ensure that ideas are proliferated and followed up?

The main funding institutions for the new format 10 Treffen are the Federal Agendy for Civic Education/bpb and the Goethe-Institut.