Topics XYZ 2005

More than Grimm and Grips

Children's and Young People's Theatre in Germany

by Gerd Taube

Again and again foreign colleagues ask about the identity of German children's and youth theatre. For many years, and often to this day, its peculiarities, its uniqueness, its distinctiveness were described with the terms 'Grimm and Grips'. But in Germany the term 'children's and youth theatre' does not only mean theatre for children and adolescents. It also includes all those theatre forms in which children and adolescents participate as actors themselves. We want to inform about contemporary children's and youth theatre in Germany, drawing a more differentiated picture of a successful, strong and unmistakable theatre form. This introduction gives an overview about the subjects relating to German children's and youth theatre provided in the published articles. Taube

Culture of Diversity

by Jürgen Kirschner

Diversity is the magic word which does not only describe the theatre for children and young people, it is also being used to encourage the debate about these theatre forms. The fact that there is no such thing as 'the' German Theatre for Children and Young People is the reason why it can only be explained through its diversity. Since the post-war era the model of appearances only within the Christmas-Season was enlarged - in the German Democratic Republic by independent special theatres, in West Germany by special branches attached to the traditional theatre structures. Since 1945 private theatres followed by independent theatres in the sixties became part of the setting. Also the Puppet theatres and the non-specialized public theatres are joining in to cope with the growing demand for a steady supply of performances. City, community and state government budgets provide more than fifty percent of the funds which is supported by theatre associations, enabling this cultural offer to reach kindergarten and school audiences from theatre groups on tour. Kirschner

Development of a Repertory for Children's and Youth Theatre in Germany

by Henning Fangauf

The repertory of plays is of great importance for the constitution of the German Children's and Youth Theatre. It is fed with adaptations of fairy-tales, classical stories or children books and with genuine scripts on contemporary topics. The repertory took on a different shape in the two German countries after World War Two. In the 50's, East Germany's best national playwrights like  Peter Hacks or Thomas Brasch were writing  dramatic literature for children which became part of the 'National Literature'. In the Federal Republic of Germany not before the end of the 60's playwrights like Volker Ludwig or Paul Maar started to write works for an 'independent' children's theatre. Today, Germany has a very well developed system with a wide range of agents, awards, drama-workshops and 700 premieres for children and teenagers year by year. Fangauf

Performing Arts for Young Audiences - Possibilities for Encounters

by Annett Israel

Professional theatre for young people and children has found its self-determination since the moment of its creation epecially in the rapport it has with its audience. Indeed, there are also genres of the performing arts (drama, puppet theatre, the rediscovered narrative theatre, music theatre and dance theatre) for a young audience which are independent of each other and influence their own groups. However, their boundaries are increasingly wearing away in the interplay between the arts and artists, especially in theatre arts for children. Not the respective genres but the artistic decisions influence the choices of the involved artists as well as their means. The programmatic and production-related cooperation of actors, musicians, singers, puppeteers, artists or dancers has become a well-established code of practice in children's theatres. It has brought forth an abundance of expression and style which seeks its wealth from the whole available means within the performing arts. Israel

Theatre Pedagogy as Theatre Arts – Theatre Arts as Theatre Pedagogy

by Gabi dan Droste

Theatre pedagogy has become an integral part of professional theatre in many theatres in the Federal Republic of Germany. The relationship between theatre and public is set by the asymmetrical relationship between children and adults in children and young people's theatre. Theatre artists of children's and young people's theatre must be able to deal with the asymmetry between youth and adults. It requires understanding and insight about 'being different' in order to use forms of performing or narrating, drama, material and presentation forms which enable interaction between the stage and the audience. In this vein the theatre pedagogical work has become central to professional children and youth theatres. It has developed methods which help to design the encounter with theatre beyond the show -- vital for acquiring knowledge about young audiences. Furthermore, though the work in youth clubs and participation projects, it has broadened the function of a theatre into a platform in which youngsters are able to express themselves openly and artistically. The current debate about the principles of an 'Children's Theatre House' looks at theatre pedagogy and art production as equally determining factors of one conceptual approach. Droste

The Way Children Play

by Ilona Sauer

Already in the 18th century the philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten had come across children's games while working on his theory of aesthetics. Children are not just players but authors and directors of their stories simultaneously. Playing occurs through a constant, open and mutual exchange, agreeing on how to play and what the theme and plot is. The way of playing is characterized not through slipping into or identifying with a role but through the narrative discourse which interrupts and changes the direction of the plot. Interruptions through a narrative process is characteristic here. Children play narratively and narrate playfully. Both are inseparable elements integrated in their games. Children develop their fantasy through their encounters with the world that surrounds them. In their play they are researchers and constructors. It is essential to permit the described artistic forms of children's ways of playing instead of looking at playing theater only from a pedagogical or functional aspect. Sauer

The Ensemble as an Artistic Field of Energy

Considerations towards the Aesthetics in Young People's Theatre

by Annett Israel

Theatre by young actors who perform for an audience in the same age group has a very long tradition and position. The school theatre scene has long become independent of its interpretative function after exclusively being used for the transmission of the classic dramatic legacy. Today the young players open an all encompassing view of our world and of their feeling for life. Energy emanates from the ensemble as they form a secure, strong background which provides each person the security needed in order to play a major role within the group. Various forms have been developed in which theatre can play openly with all its means. Performances show no sign of the rehearsal process with the Spielleiter (director). The only evidence of the director's aesthetic influence can be witnessed if he is successful in uniting the skills and wishes of young people with his artistic ambitions. Only then can an ensemble create that very special energetic field which attracts us as an audience. Israel

Children and Youth Theatre as an Aesthetic Education Format

by Eckhard Mittelstädt

Why is Children's and Young People's Theatre in Germany seen as an Aesthetic Education Format? Three ideas, which Friedrich Schiller 1793 stated, determine the discussion about aesthetic education in Germany to this day. For example the Federal Ministry of Youth developed a programme on 'Cultural Youth Education'. In this programme which includes various areas of aesthetic and cultural education for children and young people (like film, fine arts, literature, video, dance etc.) all three ideas are incorporated equally: education through art, education towards an individual relationship to art and the education of art itself. Within this landscape of youth cultivation the children and youth theatre has a special role that leads us back to the term of aesthetic education. Aesthetic education according to Schiller's definition reaches far beyond acquiring formal qualifications. Instead it sets a process of self-cultivation in motion. Children and adolescents make aesthetic experiences for example by the perceptive and through the creative altercation with the theatre. By performing theatre they experience the difference between role and figure, between actor and the acted; by watching theatre they are audience and player at the same time, because the relationship between stage and audience is a dialogue. Mittelstädt