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_Balzan Prize Project

Manfred Brauneck (Germany)

2010 Balzan Prize for The History of Theatre in All Its Aspects

Former Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Hamburg and Director of the Centre for Theatre Research

For his wide-ranging account of two and a half millennia in the History of European theatre, as well as his research on currents and events of an international nature in the world of theatre.

Institute Administering Research Funds: German Centre of the International Theatre Institute, Berlin

Adviser for the General Balzan Committee: Gottfried Scholz

The Role of the Independent Theatre in Contemporary European Theatre: Structural and Aesthetic Changes

Manfred Brauneck has designated half of his Balzan Prize to a research project, which investigates the interaction between changes within social and legal conditions for performing artists, changing methods of production and distribution of theatre art and the shifting dialectics of content versus form in European contemporary theatre. The role of independent theatres in the holistic systems of theatre culture will be the centre of focus.

The different theatre systems in Europe are going through a fundamental change. Shifting prerequisites, new production methods and structures of organisation have changed the content of the theatre as well as its reception. Studying this context will be an important aspect of the project. One of the most important factors driving these changes are the breakdown of the political systems in Eastern Europe after 1990 with emerging new paradigms in social and cultural life, followed by the increasing pace of globalization, which has been changing the shape of Europe fundamentally since the 1990s.
These vectors have created more flexible and decentralised production structures, new cooperative relationships and brought new technologies to the planning and the direct creation of theatrical forms of expression as well as changes in the distribution processes (e.g., increased orientation towards target audiences, PR/marketing, internationalisation, event orientation etc.). All of these elements change the nature of the work and the living conditions of theatre artists in a lasting way. But, existing studies are remaining to the respective local/national contexts or, are focused on single aspects (e.g., mobility, social status).

Thus an overview will be created, interweaving five thematic trans-European studies:

1. The general comparative study "Unity in Diversity": Transnational and Intercultural Exchange in Contemporary European Theatre (Working Title) by Friederike Felbeck tends to investigate and compare performances, individual artists and their collectives, their working conditions and artistic output. It will focus on structural and aesthetic changes in a diversity of national cultural contexts since 1990 and analyse local and regional clusters of transnational and intercultural exchange. This study is supervised by Dr. Barbara Müller-Wesemann, University of Hamburg.

2. The overview study Independent Theatre in European post-socialistic countries by Andrea Hensel analyses the specifics of independent theatre in comparison to public theatre and their role in re-shaping the theatre culture in Eastern Europe after 1990. This study is supervised by Prof. Günther Heeg, University of Leipzig.

3. The comparative study Independent Theatre for Children (and Young People) in Europe since 1990: Differences, Changes, Visions by Tine Koch will concentrate on the most important changes concerning the conditions, structures, forms and themes in the European professional independent theatre for children aimed at the age group up to 12 (and young people up to 18) over the last 20 years. This study is supervised by Dr. Barbara Müller-Wesemann, University of Hamburg.

4. Artistic Ways of Working and Critique in Contemporary Dance- and Performance Art at the Intersection of Production and Aesthetics by Dr. Petra Sabisch aims at investigating qualitatively how changing conditions of production and distribution affect artistic ways of working within the field of contemporary dance and choreography. This study is supervised by Prof. Gabriele Brandstetter, FU Berlin.

5. Theatre and Migration. The impact of migration on the European Theatre by Dr. Azadeh Sharifi analyses the impact of migration on European theatre by artists and theatre groups with a "migration background". This study is supervised by Prof. Wolfgang Schneider, University of Hildesheim.

All studies will consider emerging new forms of music theatre and the role of theatre education as inter-sectional topics.

All studies will include early research work and locally available material as well as personal interviews, questionnaires, and comparative field studies in different European countries, chosen, according to the respective research topics. The project will constitute the foundation for a representation of essential shifts in production methods and content of theatre work over the last twenty years. In addition, the project tends to draw conclusions and draft recommendations for cultural political steering, in particular for the implementation process of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which the UNESCO passed in 2005.
The whole project is being supervised by Prof. Manfred Brauneck and coordinated by Andrea Zagorski (ITI Germany).

Academic Gatherings:

Colloquia: Structural Changes in European Theatre held at the German Centre of the International Theatre Institute, Berlin, 20th October 2011; 27th and 28th January 2012 and 4th April 2012 in Hamburg.

A significant number of colloquia are projected and five of them have already been scheduled, including one on the occasion of the Transeuropa Festival in Hildesheim at the beginning of May 2012 and another in November 2012 during the Euroscene Festival in Leipzig.


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