Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft
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History of the Diskurs Festival


Since 1982, annually or biennaly, the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies has hosted the student-organized Diskurs Festival. Diskurs (German for „discourse“) has been marked since its conception by an active effort to make the festival not just a platform for the presentation, but also a place to discuss current performance works with fellow young theatre makers both from inside and outside of Germany. The title is thus the program: the festival fosters and demands a critical discourse between artists and audience, between invited guests and students of the institute and between different disciplines. In this sense, the Diskurs festival is integral to the profile of applied theatre studies: similar to the teaching and research conducted within the institute, the festival is also an expression of the conviction that a close interaction between theatre and the reflection and analysis of performance can be mutually beneficial.

On several occasions during the festival’s history – most recently in 2011 – the students have decided to organize not a Diskurs festival but an Exkurs festival. This Exkurs festival has served in some cases as an interlude that served the conceptual preparation, discussion and experimentation. On other occasions, re-naming of the festival was followed by a complete reconceptualization, such as in 2009, when the festival was used to build a termporay theatre space in Gießen or in 2006, when instead of a festival for the performaing arts the students organized an academic symposium.

In 2009, honoring the 25th anniversay of the festival, Johanna Manzewski and Daniel Franz, by now both alumni of the institute, published a history of the Diskurs festival: the edition Diskurs 2008-1984 gives a rich insight into the manifold performances and discourses from a quarter of a century.