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Festivals and Institutional Changes: Perspectives on International Theatre Production

English title Festivals and Institutional Changes: Perspectives on International Theatre Production
Applicant Portmann Alexandra
Number 186055
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut für Theaterwissenschaft Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Theatre and Cinema
Start/End 01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023
Approved amount 850'423.00
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Keywords (7)

Europäische Theatersysteme; Internationale Festivals; Transnationale Arbeitsweise; Institutionelle Krisendiskurse; Transnationale Kooperationen; Theatergeschichte; Netzwerkanalyse

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Internationale Theaterfestivals prägen die zeitgenössische Theaterlandschaft. In den letzten Jahren lässt sich eine verstärkte transnationale Zusammenarbeit zwischen Festivals, Künstler*innen und freien Produktionshäusern beobachten. Das Forschungsprojekt stellt die Frage, wie diese transnationalen Arbeitsweisen aus dem Festivalbereich sich nachhaltig auf lokale Theatersysteme auswirken.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojektes: 

Ausgangspunkt der Forschung stellen ausgewählte Festivals in der Schweiz, Deutschland und Grossbritannien dar. Dabei werden professionelle transnationale Netzwerke von Künstler*innen, Festivals und Produktionshäusern systematisch untersucht und schlaglichtartig visualisiert. Das Projekt verfolgt drei grössere Ziele: 1. wird eine historisch-systematische Perspektive auf transnationale Arbeitsweisen seit den 1980er Jahren entwickelt; 2. wird das Wechselverhältnis von transnationalen Veranstaltungsformat Festival und lokalen Theatersystemen untersucht und aufgezeigt, wie eng verwoben diese durch die Praxis des Koproduzierens ist; 3. wird mit dieser historischen Perspektive auf konkrete Arbeitsweisen eine Alternative zur personen- und institutionenorientierten Theatergeschichte skizziert und damit die bislang in Archiven und Sammlungen kaum dokumentierte internationale Vernetzung der Theaterlandschaft partiell aufgearbeitet.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext: 

Das Projekt leistet einen Beitrag zur aktuellen Forschung sowohl von Festivals als auch des institutionellen Wandels in den darstellenden Künsten. Die zunehmende Internationalisierung des Kulturbetriebes hat nicht nur Auswirkungen auf konkrete Arbeitsweisen und Ästhetiken, sondern auch auf kulturpolitische Strategien. Entsprechend ist das Projekt auch im Kontext zeitgenössischer kulturpolitischer Diskurse zu verorten. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 06.09.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Auf der Suche nach innovativen Formen für Kollaboration. Ein Gespräch zwischen Sandro Lunin (Kaserne Basel) und Alexandra Portmann (Universität Bern)
Portmann Alexandra (2020), Auf der Suche nach innovativen Formen für Kollaboration. Ein Gespräch zwischen Sandro Lunin (Kaserne Basel) und Alexandra Portmann (Universität Bern), in Portmann Alexandra, Hochholdinger Beate (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 76-85.
Between Teaching and Not Teaching
Portmann Alexandra (2020), Between Teaching and Not Teaching, in Hochholdinger Beate, Portmann Alexandra (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 152-159.
Die Vorstellung als Geste
Portmann Alexandra (2020), Die Vorstellung als Geste, in Portmann Alexandra, Hochholdinger Beate (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 127-134.
Festivals als Innovationsmotor?
Portmann Alexandra (2020), Festivals als Innovationsmotor?, in Hochholdinger Beate, Portmann Alexandra (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 14-28.
Festivals als Innovationsmotor?
Hochholdinger-Reiter Beate, Portmann Alexandra (ed.) (2020), Festivals als Innovationsmotor?, Alexander Verlag, Berlin.
Vorwort
Portmann Alexandra, Hochholdinger Beate (2020), Vorwort, in Hochholdinger-Reiter Beate, Portmann Alexandra (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 8-13.
Zukunftsorientierung statt Innovationszwang? Ein Gespräch mit Philippe Bischof (Pro Helvetia) und Alexandra Portmann (Universität Bern)
Portmann Alexandra (2020), Zukunftsorientierung statt Innovationszwang? Ein Gespräch mit Philippe Bischof (Pro Helvetia) und Alexandra Portmann (Universität Bern), in Portmann Alexandra, Hochholdinger Beate (ed.), Alexander Verlag, Berlin, 86-101.
International Festivals, the Practice of Co-production and the Challenges for Documentation in a Digital Age
PortmannAlexandra (2020), International Festivals, the Practice of Co-production and the Challenges for Documentation in a Digital Age, in Knowles Ric (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 36-53.
Shakespeare’s Globe in Inđija – A Portrait of Itaka Shakespeare Festival (Serbia)
Portmann Alexandra, Shakespeare’s Globe in Inđija – A Portrait of Itaka Shakespeare Festival (Serbia), in Cinpoes Nicoleta, March Florence, Prescott Paul (ed.), The Arden Shakespeare Bloomsburry, London , 1-19.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Aarhus University Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Fédération romand des arts de la scène Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Institute of Theatre Studies, Ludwig Maximilians-University Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Schweizer Archiv der Darstellenden Künste SAPA Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
The Central School of Speech and Drama Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Nodegoat Day Universität Bern Individual talk Festivals und transnationale Arbeitsweisen 27.11.2020 Bern, Switzerland Barmettler Anna; Kilchmann Dominik Alexander; Portmann Alexandra;
Forschungskolloquium Institut für Theaterwissenschaft Individual talk Produktionsnetzwerke im Gegenwartstheater 12.10.2020 Bern, Switzerland Barmettler Anna;
Forschungskolloquium Institut für Theaterwissenschaft Individual talk Festivals und transnationale Arbeitsweisen im Gegenwartstheater 18.05.2020 Bern, Switzerland Portmann Alexandra;
Progressive Connexions: International Conference Diaspora Talk given at a conference Tracing stories of a heritage language: personal accounts of diasporic experience 01.12.2019 Prag, Czech Republic Portmann Alexandra;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Beyond Participation. Reaching institutional Openings 07.12.2020 Aarhus, Denmark
Digital Research Methods in Theater and Dance Studies 06.01.2020 Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Die Helene Fischer von Ex-Jugoslawien Der Bund German-speaking Switzerland 2020

Abstract

International theatre festivals are now a dominant phenomenon and have significantly influenced global theatre production since the 1980s. The Edinburgh International Festival and the International Festival in Avignon were established after World War II to enforce intercultural, predominately European exchanges, and other festivals focusing on specific themes or authors (such as Shakespeare) can be found all over Europe. Given the diversity of this “international theatre festival” phenomenon, it seems fruitful to analyse the sustained practice of coproduction between international artists, festivals, and production venues that has emerged within the context of postcolonial criticism over the last three decades. The initial post-WWII function of festivals to represent various national, mostly European cultures, has gradually shifted towards festivals as co-producers of international work. Therefore, festivals appear as influential players in professional networks to establish and circulate aesthetic approaches in contemporary theatre practice. However, what is the nature of the relationship between international festivals and local theatre landscapes? How has the appearance of different modes of theatre production affected production, labour and aesthetics in these theatre systems? This project argues that changing modes of cultural and theatrical production, the awareness and knowledge of global operating artists as well as the challenges of transcultural works, has significantly influenced local theatre production and has provoked major systemic changes in European theatre: festival formats and international coproduction were introduced into German ensemble and repertory theatre (e.g. Kammerspiele München, Volksbühne Berlin), while in the UK, some festivals and production venues create protected environments for theatre and performance production (e.g. Manchester International Festival, Forest Fringe, The Factory), which oppose neoliberal and market-driven cultural policy. In both cases, the practice of international coproduction challenges established modes of cultural production and allows space to critically negotiate institutional frameworks within existing theatrical systems. This project aims to examine changing modes of production, particularly the practice of international coproduction, in theatre systems in Switzerland, Germany and the UK from a historical perspective, to shed light on the complex interrelation between festivals as ephemeral events and established, locally embedded institutions. A postdoctoral and two doctoral research projects will take professional networks around selected European theatre and performance festivals (e.g. Theaterspektakel Zürich, London International Festival of Theatre) as a starting point. Moving away from national frameworks, the project not only contributes to current research on the diverse phenomenon of theatre festivals and institutional changes within contemporary theatre, but also provides a methodological reflection of a more global understanding of theatre history. With help of data and network visualisation programs (e.g. Gephi), this historical examination of dynamic professional networks around festivals and its interrelation with local theatre systems allows an alternative historical reading of modes of theatre production in a globalised world and the effects on aesthetics, working methods and labour.
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