More than a scene meeting?
What is the goal of theater performances? To entertain, to reflect upon society –, to evoke emotions? What counts is not only what and who plays on stage, but also who is allowed and able to sit in the audience. Access to culture still depends too much on education, and social and cultural background. Not everyone can afford a ticket for a seat in the theater, nor does everyone have the time to sacrifice an evening – for many, this clashes with everyday obligations, part-time jobs, children, or care work.
Another challenge is getting to know the codes, the language of the theater. What some people take for granted – because their parents or acquaintances are theater-goers themselves – is a new world for others, in which they first have to find their way around. Can I go to the bathroom during the performance? Are jeans enough, or is that too casual? Can I leave if I don’t like it? Do I have to leave my jacket at the checkroom, or can I stuff it under the seat? Should I feel small and uneducated as a working-class kid who grew up watching private TV channels rather than theater, because I’d never heard of „Waiting for Godot“ or Castorf before studying theater?
Am I allowed to think that a performance was bad? Boring? Exaggerated? Do the others understand even half of what they just saw on stage, or is it just me? I used to find fault within myself: I know too little, I have informed myself too little, I am culturally uneducated. Today, I know: many only hide their lack of knowledge better, but don’t actually know more. And even if they did: Theater should be a place of exchange, of collisions, of learning –- a judgment-free space, that invites all who are interested to participate in it, at all levels. Let’s see how this year’s Theatertreffen implements that.