Dramatic Episodes is a workshop series initiated in 2019 and focussing on the future role of theatre in civil society. In recent years, global political events and health crises 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 and discursive space? How could cultural institutions act as agents of civil society?
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.
Antonio Araujo, São Paulo International Theatre Festival, São Paulo, Brazil
Delia Barker, Freelance, London, UK
Francis Christeller, Goethe-Institut London, UK
Satu Herrala, Freelance, Helsinki, Finland
Kee Hong Low, Manchester International Festival, Manchester, UK
Ismail Mahomed, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 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
WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW:
The project has existed in the changing circumstance of the recent year, with in person meetings and, of course, online sessions. Each moment of connection 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.
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.
Throughout 2020, the participants came together in digital sessions, providing peer support through a challenging time for all arts leaders and delving into topics such as the climate emergency, hygiene protocols in theatres, new forms of presenting performance, new urgencies for theatres during a health crisis, systemic racism in our societies, mental health within our organisations and embodied knowledge.
In April 2022, the group came back together in Helsinki for a second in person meeting. The programme of talks and visits centred around the topic, ‘Nurturing Change’. Guest speakers included poet/researcher Helga West & artist Lada Suomenrinne as well as co-directors of Helsinki’s Baltic Circle Festival, Hanna Parry and Asta Teräväinen.