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WESTWIND 2023 Symposia

This year, the festival organisers are hosting a series of thematic discussions for theatre professionals. In addition to the thematic focus of each talk, references may be made to the festival productions. The goal is to create a platform for collegial exchange to which everyone is cordially invited. The discussions will be moderated by representatives of the NRW Workgroup:

Anne Verena Freybott / Theater Oberhausen; Kirstin Hess / Junges Schauspiel Düsseldorf; Julia-Huda Nahas / director, author & cultural educator; Manuel Moser / Comedia Theater Köln

What’s all this theatre about or do we “merely have to save the world”? Theatre caught between educational responsibility and artistic freedom.

Tuesday, 13.06. 12:00 to 13:30, Studio 5
Moderated by Anne Verena Freybott and Kirstin Hess

Who are we actually making theatre for when many of our theatre projects are created in response to the criteria of the funding landscape? Should the topics or formats that a new project fund aims to cover be taboo for artists? Otherwise, is art merely a stooge and automatically bad if it attempts to fulfil its educational duty and does not shy away from required school literature? Can real theatre art for young audiences only be created by reversing gears, without being influenced by sponsors, curricula or the zeitgeist? And where might such a vacuum exist?

The first discussion platform at WESTWIND 2023 is dedicated to the much-debated questions of whether art and cultural education are opposites, whether cultural education can simultaneously be art and whether we can or must agree on an understanding of what art means today. We invite you to a productive debate in small groups and an exciting discussion in the plenary. In a condensed 90-minute format – because after that, we have to get back to saving the world.

The state of the art?

What is the “state of the art” in contemporary theatre for young audiences and where is art heading? An overview of accomplishments and an outlook for the future.
With the participants of the International Visitors Programme at NRW KULTURsekretariat  and members of the EU festival network “Exit the Room” as guests

Wednesday, 14.06. 16:00 to 17:30, Studio 5
Moderated by Julia-Huda Nahas und Manuel Moser

What is the current state of development in theatre for young audiences? Where do “we” stand and where do we want (or need) to go? There are many contributing factors that can be discussed, debated and certainly even argued about. Participation, representation, diversity, inclusion, aesthetics, thematic selection, form, language, performance methods, scenic design, media use, digitisation, attitudes, audiences, casting, ways of working ... Let’s come together to collectively reflect and ponder: who actually sets the priorities and what are they? Which perspectives dominate and which ones are often overlooked? Which issues do we dwell on and which ones always get short-changed? Where do we stand here on an international level?

A collective attempt to define where we stand. From various perspectives and vantage points, we’ll look at the state of (the) art!

This discussion will also offer English-speaking visitors the opportunity to participate.


Failing Better

Friday, 16.06. 14:00 to 15:30, Venue: Studio 5
Moderated by Manuel Moser and Julia-Huda Nahas

Success is great! It feels incredible! But what happens when something doesn’t work out? What place does failure have in theatre work? Or is it an unspeakable impossibility?

As babies we learn to navigate our way through many moments of failure. With great effort and with great pleasure. In science, dealing with unexpected failure in a series of experiments is crucial for the success of any research group. Everyday theatre life, production pressure and funding structures offer little to no room for diversions or experimentation, for risks – and thus the possibility of not succeeding. Colleagues, audiences and the press evaluate the result. Whether their critique is hard-hitting and scathing or constructive and pertinent, failure is not foreseen. At the same time, stage art often deals with themes of social transformation and processes for which there are no set routines. On this unknown terrain, we are expected to successfully produce art. A contradiction! A contradiction? In this discussion platform, we will examine possibilities for long-term success in development and innovation: where are the obstacles, potholes and roadblocks that are difficult to overcome? What potential do risks offer? Can failure be a part of artistic practice? Together we will dive into the depths (and the shallows) of failure and recollect when we last really dared to do something.