What Can Theatre Do?

What about art education now?

What can or should art education do in a moment when society is shaken by an unprecedented combination of political, economic and sanitary crises, also affecting the artistic field to a point that it is impossible to foresee how it can operate and develop?

We posed this question to ourselves and our own programme, and decided upon two principles to inform our current year, and our vision. The first principle is that we are to be honest with reality and acknowledge that the storms we are all in is in the first place not the same storm for everyone, on the contrary it is enlightening structural inequalities that we as artists, curators, intellectuals and educators have the duty to fight. This storm is also a chance of questioning in depth our own work and the professional field that we are part of, which since a long time we know being ruled by the same inequalities and we see operating in society at large. This moment is calling for a change, and schools are to embrace it and enhance it. The second principle is that, within the local and (inter)national artistic field, schools have the great chance of being sites for learning and unlearning. Schools are sites for questioning, for exploring alternative paths and for working together in an environment that is meant to be collaborative and communal. Schools are support structure that are not oriented towards artistic production nor towards the curation of an encounter between artworks, audiences and collectivities. What schools can do, we believe, is to offer the artistic field their particular space, a space before so to say, as a generative and needed space within the ecology of the arts, where things can be tried out, manners of working can be tested and a politicality of the arts can be explored, in a porous and permeable relation to the artistic, and also to the social world. Based on these two principles, we designed a programme as a queer deviation from the norm of our own curriculum, and thought of it as a public programme as well, opened to encounters and documented so to become available for others, in forms that are to be explored within the programme itself, by us the participating students, staff and tutors.

What Can Theatre Do?

What Can Theatre Do is at the same time the curation of an educational gesture, and of a collective artistic research. It unfolds in the exploration of this question during six weeks in the Fall semester and four weeks in the Spring semester of DAS Theatre, focussing on three concrete actions: reckoning, repairing, reimagining. By focussing on what theatre can do, we aim to acknowledge theatre as a complex apparatus, operating within the realms of reality and fiction and creating conditions for the political to occur. The doing of theatre has nothing to do with its impact on society or cultural value; it is the aesthetic experience in its disruptive and idiosyncratic appearances that we trust and insist upon. By making our research revolve around the three actions of reckoning, repairing and reimagining, we aim to explore how theatre can reckon with the present time as an historical moment; how it can repair it and thus engage with its uncertainties; how it can reimagine the future, speculate and enact alternative ones.

The programme of the October labs is curated by artistic director Silvia Bottiroli and tutor Edit Kaldor, in conversation with the Educational Team and Educational Platform of DAS Theatre: Juul Beeren, Maaike Boot, John Meijerink, Marjorie Boston, Andrea Bozic, Miguel Angel Melgares and Lara Staal. The programme of the November lab is curated by the 2nd year participants (Asa Horvitz, Tom Oliver Jacobson, Juan Miranda, Mazlum Nergiz, Andrej Nosov, Mariana Senne, Eli Steffen, Pankaj Tiwari) mentored by the Educational Team, as their “Contextual” collective assignment.