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International theatre and festival directors listen to their guide during an exhibition.© Goethe-Institut

Dramatic Episodes

Dramatic Episodes is a workshop series taking place from 2019 to 2021 and focussing on the future role of theatre in civil society. In recent years, global political events have shaken up certain assumptions of theatre spaces. Societal structures have changed rapidly in the cities and the rise of right-wing parties in many countries around the world has created a level of mistrust and misunderstanding in established cultural institutions.

Against the backdrop of these current global politics we ask:
How could theatres and festivals continue to engage with the public or reach out to an audience they did not appeal to before? How could the sector protect the freedom of the arts and be a safe place? How could cultural institutions act as agents of civil society?
Wir brauchen mehr Gefühl. Wir müssen einander Mut zusprechen.

The Project: an innovative discussion format

Together with LIFT, the Goethe-Institut London has invited twelve theatre and festival directors from nine countries across four continents to reflect on the role of theatre in a rapidly changing world and to engage with pressing issues such as migration, solidarity in society, climate change, sustainability and protection of resources. Together they will work on practices that will enable change.

The project is structured into four meetings. Each meeting allows the invited arts leaders to engage in talks, visits and experiences that help to facilitate the conversation about the challenges of the future and the role theatre plays in it. One public event will be part of every meeting, engaging the public with the topics investigated throughout the course of the programme.

Who is participating?

  • Danjel Andersson, Dansehallerne, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Antonio Araujo, São Paulo International Theatre Festival, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Delia Barker, Roundhouse, London, UK
  • Francis Christeller, Goethe-Institut London, UK
  • Satu Herrala, Helsinki, Finland
  • Kee Hong Low, West Kowloon Culture District, Hong Kong
  • Ismail Mahomed, Market Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Kris Nelson, LIFT, London, UK
  • Carena Schlewitt, HELLERAU, Dresden, Germany
  • Anne-Cécile Sibué-Birkeland, Black Box Theatre, Oslo, Norway
  • Ragnheiður Skúladóttir, Arctic Arts Festival, Harstad, Norway
  • Katrin Sohns, Goethe-Institut London, UK
  • Fu Kuen Tang, Taipei Arts Festival, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Annemie Vanackere, HAU, Berlin, Germany
  • Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Goethe-Institut London, UK


During the first meeting in London and Cambridge in November 2019, the participants reflected together on the most pressing issues for themselves and their respective institutions. The conversation focused on themes such as migration, social cohesion, climate change, sustainability and resource conservation. The public were invited to engage with our participants in the form of a Long Table event that was hosted at Cambridge Junction

  • Participants noting their thought on paper © Goethe-Institut
  • Notizen zu: What are you taking out into the world? © Goethe-Institut
  • Thoughts on Paper © Goethe-Institut
  • Thoughts on Paper 2 © Goethe-Institut
  • Dramatic Episodes, November 2019, Participants discuss 2 © Goethe-Institut

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the second meeting that had been due to take place with hosts HELLERAU in Dresden has been postponed and the programme will temporarily be continued as online-workshops. The conversations which started in the UK in November 2019 will be continued in the next weeks through online meetings until the group is able to reconnect in person.



The number 2 over the photo of podcast participant Kris NelsonPhoto: Sharron Wallace

Podcast "Talking Culture", Episode #2: Why Theatre Matters Right Now

Episode #2 of our podcast "Talking culture": Interview with Artistic Director and CEO of LIFT, Kris Nelson, talks about the difficulties and the importance of the worldwide theatre scene in crises of corona, populism - and beyond!