Where are you from, Theatertreffen blog? And where are you going?
So, for the second time, I am co-curating the Theatertreffen blog: Last year, with the pandemic age fresh in our minds and now more versed in digital media, we were preoccupied with the question of what opportunities for cultural journalism lie in the so-called social media. True to the learning by doing principle, the Theatertreffen blog set out to find answers in digital proving grounds. What at first seemed playfully simple turned out to be extremely difficult: reaching different target groups on over 5 digital platforms, and doing justice to all the events of the Theatertreffen – in terms of reporting – was not only time-consuming in terms of the quantity of posts, but also demanded a sophisticated examination of the respective medium and its potential. Without a doubt, the various Internet platforms proved to be an opportunity to think about theatre journalism in a more low-threshold and entertaining way; at the same time, however, they remained uncharted territory that still invites extensive testing. And with the new media, new structural questions also arose: Who can be reached at all on these platforms, if the festival does not at the same time strive for more openness and the dismantling of barriers? How can people be inspired online for the festival, without theatre journalism mutating into an advertising tool? And what can theatre journalism be in the age of reels and photo dumps?
Undoubtedly, these are questions that are still worthy of exploration. Since last year, however, our present has changed fundamentally, the foundations of our togetherness have shifted massively: politically through the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, the war in Syria and the on-going women’s revolution in Iran, ecologically through the advancing climate crisis, which manifests itself in devastating earthquakes – think of the catastrophe in Turkey and Syria at the beginning of the year. In these contexts, the question of the meaning and impact of theatre in the German-speaking world is once again raised anew: about the content, the narratives, the aesthetics, the concerns, but also the protagonists and makers of theatre. But also, the function of theatre criticism can be questioned anew – especially that of the Theatertreffen blog, which takes place festival-related, and this year encounters a Theatertreffen that on the one hand tries to allow marginal artistic perspectives a space for expression, but on the other hand, does not want to lose sight of the festival’s perennial tradition. The Theatertreffen blog would now like to take up this interface, and consequently discuss – in an essayistic way – questions that concern the festival and our present. Less live reporting, in other words, and more analysis and linking of contexts of meaning. Also in this edition, five blog fellows are invited, experienced and aspiring, who will look at the festival from varying perspectives with an expertise that extends far beyond the German-speaking world.
By the way: since last year, at least it seems so in my horizon, the public preoccupation with the field of theatre journalism has also increased. There is now more frequent debate and writing about the function and necessity of theatre criticism (I can only affirm the necessity!), as well as about the desirable independence of theatre critics. This is an important and necessary debate, and I am glad that it is now receiving more attention. Undoubtedly, I do not count as an „independent“ journalist, working as a director and writer at numerous city theatres. Nevertheless, I am happy to be able to accompany the blog again this year, as an interface between institution and journalism, as a person who can change positions – and thus perhaps help a little in the convergence of perspectives. And, of course, to proofread the numerous contributions of this year’s fellows 😉
I look forward to an aesthetically and discursively fruitful Theatertreffen 2023!