For the fourth time, the Federal Theatre Prize was awarded to small and medium-sized theatres in Germany by Monika Grütters, former Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Eleven theatres were selected by a jury of experts. They each received 75,000 € for their outstanding artistic programme. The basis for this decision was the first half of the 2019/2020 season. A special focus of the 2021 Federal Theatre Prize was on addressing the pandemic.
"HochX München is a venue for the independent scene that puts on an impressive programme in a small space and on a tight budget, while at the same time promoting Munich and non-Munich artists and forging new alliances. The Germany-wide network AYŞE X Staatstheater was founded in HochX. The video production of the dance production "Scores that shaped our friendship" by Lucy Wilke and Paweł Duduś, which was invited to the 2021 Theatertreffen, was realised at the HochX, which under the direction of Antonia Beermann and Ute Gröbel has stood for a spirit of optimism in Munich's independent scene since 2016 - despite traditionally adverse conditions. For this, too, it will be awarded the 2021 Federal Theatre Prize, as an impulse generator and important networker for the independent scene on its way to becoming a production house for Munich with supra-regional appeal." - Jury statement
"Bostelwiebeck - since the Jahrmarkttheater has been working here, this village has become a place where theatre of supraregional relevance is rehearsed, performed, watched and discussed. Where, if not in such a small village, is it necessary to engage in dialogue with village society. Dialogue, that means: talking and listening. And that is what distinguishes the Jahrmarkttheater: It does not only speak itself, but it listens. It does not only provide a landscape with otherwise little cultural offer with sophisticated, great and yet accessible theatre art, but it collects the themes on the village street, processes them and attracts a supra-regional audience. Thomas Matschoß, Anja Imig and Andrea Hingst succeed in seducing their neighbours to engage with contemporary formats and forms, to leave familiar paths, to abandon themselves to the pleasure of play and the invention of new worlds. With self-irony, fun, courage and great consistency, the Jahrmarkttheater fills the term "folk theatre" with new life. Thus Bostelwiebeck becomes a global village and the Jahrmarkttheater a highly deserved winner of the Federal Theatre Prize." - Jury statement
"LOT Theater Braunschweig sees itself as a guest performance and (co-)production venue for Lower Saxony's independent scene and up-and-coming theatre talent, and works on a long-term basis with important Lower Saxon groups, artists and newcomers. The spectrum of the artistic programme ranges from children's and youth theatre to dance and performance. A committed artistic programme that addresses issues of social cohesion ("participation, inclusion and accessibility are not empty words, but constant companions"), exciting exchange programmes with local institutions and the city society, diverse networking, unusual and lovingly developed digital formats and the tireless cultural-political advocacy for Lower Saxony's independent scene make LOT Braunschweig stand out as a promising and reliable venue and as a motor of the independent scene, even in a supra-regional comparison." - Jury statement
"What characterises experimental theatre? The American writer Chris Kraus writes that it is "utopian diaspora". What is that supposed to be? Utopia, a 'non-place' and diaspora, the 'scattered, distributed, in-between'. Simply a double negation, an impossible place. But Johannes Volkmann's Papiertheater, which has been active in and beyond Bavaria since 1995, is exactly that. An interactive think tank that thinks and works exclusively with paper, in constant motion, yet without a house, nomadic, always somewhere else, but always together with the places it travels to, and above all together with the people the Papiertheater visits and invites to intervene in the world through their 'social productions': How can people really achieve peace? Why are children's rights still not a matter of course all over the world? With the simple but powerful material of paper, Papiertheater combines the seemingly contradictory with admirable ease: it is an archive of theatrical co-creation, but one that will always have enough space to continue writing the future." - Jury statement
"The Salzlandtheater in Staßfurt, Saxony-Anhalt, is the first INTHEGA theatre to receive the Federal Theatre Prize. The theatre sees its task as promoting regional culture and at the same time drawing attention to Staßfurt through renowned artists and ensembles. The committed team's declared aim is to counter the challenges of the region - migration, unemployment, structural weakness - with cultural means. In addition to the theatre, the Salzlandtheater is an intergenerational educational centre. Projects are carried out in the form of inclusive theatre groups, concerts and performances for day-care centres and schools, as well as early cultural education, project work with disabled people and offers for senior citizens. In 2016, the Salzlandtheater founded its own dance school. The theatre has been a recognised provider of public youth welfare services since 2008. Under the direction of Stefan Czuratis, the dance division was re-established at the Salzlandtheater. As one of the stages included in the TANZLAND programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, there is close cooperation with the ballet of the Koblenz Theatre. The programme of this guest theatre is characterised by a great variety of genres: The programme includes plays, puppet theatre, cabaret, comedy, concerts, dance and musicals. During the pandemic, solidarity with artists was a matter of course for the Salzlandtheater team. Not only were cancellation fees paid, but the theatre also developed into an advisory body regarding funding opportunities." - Jury statement
"For over four decades, NRW's smallest municipal theatre has stood for continuity and high artistic innovation on the western edge of the Ruhr region. With 22 staff members, five of them ensemble actors, the theatre produces classical material, premieres of new texts, plays for children and young people or artistic approaches to regional events, such as the Love Parade disaster of 2010. In an impressive way, the theatre opens up unusual venues in the city, such as a fitness centre, a detention centre for deportees or a shopping centre, and in doing so enters into remarkable cooperations with partners in urban society. Livestream formats, Telegram Theatre for children and young people or one-person telephone readings are evidence of considerable creativity, even in times of pandemic. With the Schlosstheater Moers, an honour goes to a theatre that does excellent work at the interface between high artistic standards and "social initiative" with limited financial resources." - Jury statement
"Lena Kußmann, Jonas Vietzke and Milena Fischer have taken over the Theater an der Glocksee, founded 30 years ago by students on the squatted Glocksee site, from founding member Helga Lauenstein in 2018/19 and have completed a compelling generational change. Although, as a small independent theatre in Lower Saxony, they are strongly forced to work on a project basis, they also plan for the long term and go into depth on individual topics, as shown, for example, by the 2020 annual project on the topic of plants. Great importance is placed on maintaining contact with the audience, both in new mediation formats and in the design of the theatre space, in which audience seats are integrated into the stage design. In Pandemic, the Theater an der Glocksee was convincing with imaginative outdoor and online formats. The supra-regionality and internationality in the digital have "unleashed many ideas that want to be pursued", writes the management team in their application for the Federal Theatre Prize. In their "megalomaniac dream of global theatrical networking", the jury wants to support them." - Jury statement
"The Theater an der Ruhr in Mülheim has been unique in the scene for over forty years. A true theatre of the future, which since its founding in 1980 by Roberto Ciulli, Helmut Schäfer and Gralf-Edzard Habben has negotiated with visionary power all those discourses that are indispensable for a contemporary art venue. It sees itself not only as a non-hierarchical collective of artists (with the involvement of all the house's staff), but also as a theatre in constant motion. Travelling for the purpose of cultural exchange is a basic principle of the ensemble; in return, international artists (from Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and the countries of the former Yugoslavia, among others) regularly give guest performances at the theatre. Cultural diversity and migration (Ciulli himself came to Germany from Italy in 1965) were thus a topic here long before other theatres also dealt with them. Sven Schlötcke, managing director and long-time member of the artistic direction, has consolidated this programme in the context of the upcoming generation change and further anchored the theatre in the post-migrant city society. Groups such as Anagoor from Italy, Kumbaracı50 from Turkey or Ma'louba from Syria work continuously in Mülheim, the project "Ruhrorter" has been realising theatre and installation works with refugees since 2012, while the director Philipp Preuss, as a new member of the artistic direction, expands the art space with his multimedia works. The Theatre of the Future must not be without the debate about the threats to our future: in the talk series "Hammerthaler's Zeit für Zukunft" (Hammerthaler's Time for the Future), climate activists, scientists and politicians regularly enter into dialogue to discuss how to save our planet Earth. For this groundbreaking work as an art space for diversity and socio-political visions, the jury awards the Theater an der Ruhr with the Federal Theatre Prize." - Jury statement
"A neighbourhood theatre, a place for social encounters in the Hofgarten, a source of artistic impulses in a lively network with other cultural institutions in the city of Mannheim, as well as a host for international literary festivals - all this is not contradictory for the busy management team of Theaterhaus G7. They have developed their theatre into a cultural venue for local and national audiences with an international orientation. In its 30-year history, a rapid professionalisation of the theatre has also taken place over the past 5 years. During this time, the Theaterhaus G7 has also developed an unusual profile for a theatre house of the independent scene: It constantly works on the literary word, on text-based contemporary theatre, and in the 5 years of its professional history has developed into a special, artistically qualitative, internationally active place for independent playwrights' theatre." - Jury statement
"The WUK Theater Quartier is a theatre house that is still quite young and already an integral part of the city of Halle and vital to the Saxony-Anhalt scene. But the word "Quartier" describes it much better, because it is an area and not just a building, and recently even a theatre ship on the Saale, which underlines the mobility and permeability of this institution. A wide variety of actors from the independent scene - from dance, concert and theatre to performance and installation - find production and performance opportunities here. And a reliable partner. With all its openness and willingness to cooperate, the team of the WUK Theater Quartier, led by Tom Wolter as host, consistently sets accents in chapters such as #8 gottisttot or #9WBLCHKT and thus brings the individual productions and performances into a discourse. In the midst of all this, the WUK creates its own artistic works, with which it engages in debate. In its constant dialogue with urban society, the WUK corresponds in every conceivable way to the call for entries for the Federal Theatre Prize and has deserved the prize in a very clear and unambiguous way." - Jury statement
"Before and during the pandemic, the Wuppertal theatre and symphony orchestra (Wuppertaler Bühnen und Sinfonieorchester) distinguished themselves with diverse and rich additions (Digital Stage) to the physical range of plays prevented by Corona. Under the outgoing GMD Julia Jones, the three-division company with equally independent management, which cooperates closely with the autonomous Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, developed concert formats for new audiences. They demonstrate an emphatically contemporary course with updating versions of the classical and modern repertoire. Acting works gain a rejuvenating dimension through body explorations in space instead of text concentration. The management teams of Wuppertal's theatre and symphony orchestra are particularly attentive to contemporary initiatives concerning digitality (app 'Share Your Opera' with mobile phone use during selected performances), diversity, gender equality and the promotion of young talent (Opera Studio NRW). International co-productions of music theatre productions and distinctive young directorial signatures increase the pluralism of style and interpretation." - Jury statement
The Prize Ceremony took place on 08 July from 19:00-20:30 hybrid at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, and via live stream. You can find the programme of the prize ceremony here.
A recording of the event can be found below.
How do theatres succeed in integrating themselves into urban society as social spaces of the public sphere? This question accompanied the symposium and - in view of the challenges of the Corona pandemic - became even more topical. How can theatres hold their ground in the face of lockdown measures? How do they remain visible and be heard when the stages are closed? What impulses - artistic, discursive, political - can they provide in digital space or with projects in urban space? What does social change mean after the Corona crisis? And what central role can and must art and culture play in social dialogue?
These questions were discussed in the context of the hybrid symposium #dialograumtheater not only with actors from dance and theatre, but also reflected and commented on with perspectives from other areas of society - from education, church, media, business and science. In doing so, three fields of action of theatre work were addressed: places of irritation, reflection and vision. The symposium took place on site and was streamed on July 08 at the Academy of Arts.
A recording of the event can be viewed below.
Following the 2021 Federal Theatre Prize, the ITI organised a touring exhibition that was shown in nine of the most recent prize-winning theatres in the spring and summer of 2022. Under the title "Dialogue and confrontation, transformation and strengthening - theatre work beyond the metropolises", the exhibition attempted to provide an insight into the work of the prize-winning theatres in a small space and at the same time to make the understanding of theatre work as dialogue tangible in the broadest sense and to create an offer to contribute one's own perspectives. The travelling exhibition was available to all visitors as a fold-out box format. In addition to a digital Theatre Prize archive, it also offered video formats and interactive modules.
More information can be found here.