A series of events and both artistic and creative interventions will open new resonance chambers for the long-standing Theatertreffen on a European level as part of the 10 Treffen. The main funding institutions and conceptual partners of the new format are the Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb and the Goethe-Institut.
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.
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?
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?
The Transfeminist Treffen will look at feminism and its power to create solidarity. Together with activist-artistic collectives who work in Berlin, Prague, Poznan and Tehran, Zofia nierodzińska invites you to explore recipes for our present times. The scene will be the kitchen as a symbol of feminist mobilisation. 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 a book 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?
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.
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 create a panel with several events 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 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. Several times during the festival, we will open the doors to the International Forum and invite visitors to participate. At the end of the festival, the members will join the Theatertreffen jury to talk about the ten invited productions in a concluding discussion.
Criticism as Action
The Theatertreffen-Blog is a place to exchange ideas and to roll out a wide range of voices who are creating their own access to the world of media and culture. Headed by Antigone Akgün and in close cooperation with Zofia nierodzińska as well as with the selected scholarship holders, the blog will develop considered reflections on the 10 remarkable productions and the 10 Treffen. The Theatertreffen-Blog allows scholarship holders to experience the festival’s programme at their own discretion and according to their own focus topics. The medium of expression is not necessarily the written word; instead, the focus lies on creative multi-media coverage. For example, the suitability of social media and various audio formats for journalistic purposes will be tested. The Reflection Treffen intends to increase the visibility of the Theatertreffen-Blog and its protagonists at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele and to celebrate reflection and criticism as crucial components of the performing arts.
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.
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 future ambassadors 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?