Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft

"Exercises in Terraforming".

13. - 31. July 2015

The course starts out from two questions: How to stage an ecosystem? and What is the effect of our theatrical fiction when it relates to a reality such as the global environmental crisis?
We can observe that ecosystems are a dense network of actors and relations between them, where each individual act leaves an environmental impact whose consequences can be traced only in part. While in other part they meander, resonate and sediment throughout the ecosystem without making their effects immediately evident. We can never be unambiguously sure what is the total environmental impact of our action. Still, ecosystem being a network, we can be sure that there is one. This ambiguity over the exact scope of environmental impact of actions is the reason for much of the dispute over the global environmental crisis.
So, what if we tried to create an ecosystem on stage? This is where the true challenge would lie: theatre is a mechanism of abstraction that lets us observe acts isolated from their material consequences, as social gestures or symbolic acts.
We start out from the idea of terraforming. Terraforming is a hypothetical process of deliberately modifying the atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology of planet, moon or other body to be similar to those of Earth to make it habitable by terrestrial organisms. The primary interest is to approach and exhaust the topic of establishing new conditions for life and work on stage, networks of relations, forms of life, communities etc. On the other hand, the aim is to reflect the intensified urgency to relate the global environmental crisis.
However, and this is where the second set of problems comes into play: theatre is an artifice of representation and not an environment. Whatever the reality it references, it always isolates individual acts from their network of real-world relations, gives them the power of representing closed, socially and individually meaningful endeavors. And in this ascription of social agency to acts, theatre necessarily fictionalizes the reality that it represents on stage.
The course will be practical and theoretical with a focus on choreography and dramaturgy and its aim is to produce a number of short pieces/interventions which could be performed in a serial structure on stage.