World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People: Take a Child to the Theatre!

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People on March 20th is an ASSITEJ campaign, and a worldwide celebration of performing arts for children and young people. Joyee (8 years), Jojo (11 years), and Yvette Hardie (President of ASSITEJ) are the authors of this year’s messages.

WTD2019-199x300Our world is riven through with division and divisiveness. Around us on every side are leaders and strategies seeking to turn people against one another, on the basis of race, language, culture, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, loyalty to an idea, belonging or not belonging… Almost every aspect of our humanity has been used by someone to bring greater division and to build higher walls of suspicion and hatred. As a result, we seem to have turned our backs on Ubuntu, the African philosophy that says „I am because you are“ and „a person is a person through relationships with other people.“

How can we work to undo this great wrong we are doing to our children and indeed, to ourselves? Children need to be able to enjoy moments in community where they are reminded of what we share, and where they are able to appreciate the multiple realities of what it means to be human. They need spaces in which to explore new ways of thinking that challenge these divisive narratives, in which they feel empathy for those most unlike themselves. They need concrete experiences of communion in community to remind them of the joy and beauty that the world has to offer.

ASSITEJ believes that theatre provides multiple doorways into feeling a greater sense of connectedness with others, and – importantly – with ourselves.

Recently The New Victory Theater in New York released the results of a five year study into the benefits of theatre for children and young people. One of the key unexpected findings was that exposure to the theatre gave these children greater hope for the future. These results were contrasted with a control group, where those who were not exposed to theatre performances and workshops over the same period, experienced a diminishing sense of their future possibilities in terms of study and work opportunities.

Why is hope so important? Hope creates positive energy which translates into self-assurance, willpower, resilience and finally into concrete actions to make a difference in one’s own life and in the lives of others. Every child needs to have hope.

So let us all commit to taking a child or young person to the theatre today and to rallying the support necessary to ensure that every child has access to the arts and to theatre, regardless of their personal or social circumstances. And for those of us working in the profession, let us commit to providing quality experiences that will make the difference in how the younger generation perceives the world – for the sake of both today and tomorrow.

Yvette Hardie, President of ASSITEJ

Joyee (8 years old) and Jojo (11 years old) are children attending the House of Muchness, „An environment where young people can belong to a collective and build social relatedness, artistic expression and find their creative kin“, in Brunswick/Australia. The following words are a transcription of a conversation with its founder and artistic director, Alex Walker.

Everything is connected to theatre. I was born in a place where theatre was very special. In India.
And even though I was in an orphanage, I knew theatre was important there. My mum is part of theatre. I’m part of theatre. I do House of Muchness which is a type of theatre – we put on shows. Stuff like that. Every child has the right to do fun things. Like House of Muchness. I do Bollywood too because it goes with where I came from.
Everything is theatre. It’s hard to explain. I wouldn’t try to explain it to someone who didn’t understand, I would just take them, show them, and they could see for themselves.

Theatre is you. Whatever you do is theatre. Everything around you is theatre. You are theatre. All your body works together like a theatre. To make one big show. And that show is your life.

Without theatre, there would be no imagination. Everyone wouldn’t be able to be themselves. Without stories, everyone would be bored all the time. A bit gloomy – they wouldn’t really feel very nice. It would be like the moon. No one could actually communicate with each other because of the big hats.
If you have no imagination, well, the only thing to fix that is theatre. It makes you learn things. It can teach you about love. How it looks in different ways. And how different people who might not know if they can love each other, well, they can. If it’s a really powerful story, it can actually change us. Theatre is special and good and beautiful. And we have to have all the feelings – if a show makes us feel sad, then it can also make us feel hopeful – that a good thing can happen after. And most of the time it does.

Joyee, 8 years old

I’m 11 and I’m dyslexic. I’m a person who swears a bit. I like people who understand me, as me. I want to be a part of something. I’m a person who wants to change the world. I’m in the Children’s Party which is about children and ideas and politics in a theatre show. I might start to change the world that way.

Theatre is important because it shows stories. Stories show generations and generations of people what’s going on. Where they’ve come from, why they’re here, and how they’re here. Things we need to know. Then we can understand people and their ways.
My first show was actually a music festival in Adelaide when I was in my Mum’s belly. The first theatre show I remember was an opera. Because Roger’s cousin is an opera singer. Roger was my grandfather.

I love theatre where you have to use your imagination, your own imagination which is different from everyone else’s. Because the things in the show are hard to see or aren’t there, you have to imagine them. You make them up. And then you can see them really well. But people might have a different story or pictures in their head compared to what’s in my head.
If you don’t take kids to the theatre, then theatre will stop. Theatre shows lives and hearts and souls in actions. If I was taking a child to the theatre, a little child, I wouldn’t explain or tell them anything on the way. They would watch it and then they would explain it to me.

If I was told I couldn’t see any more theatre, it would make me sad, it would make me angry. If I hadn’t seen some of the things I’ve seen in the theatre, I wouldn’t be me.
And I like me.

Jojo, 11 years old




von Gerd Taube

BIM BAM, FRATZ und KUCKUCK, so heißen Theaterfestivals für das jüngste Publikum in Salzburg, Berlin und München. Während man in der bayerischen Landeshauptstadt nur noch wenige Tage warten muss, bis das Festival (20.-27. März 2019) eröffnet wird, müssen die jüngsten Berliner*innen sich noch länger (3.-8. Mai 2019) gedulden. In der österreichischen Festspielstadt Salzburg hat das 7. Internationale Theaterfestival für Klein(st)kinder BIM BAM (9.-31. März 2019) bereits am letzten Wochenende begonnen.


Initiator und Veranstalter des Festivals ist das Toihaus Theater, das als Pionier und Zentrum des zeitgenössischen Theaters für die jüngsten Zuschauer*innen in Österreich gelten darf. Und auch im europäischen Kontext gehört das freie Theater aus Salzburg zur künstlerischen Avantgarde in dieser Theaterform. Weiterlesen

Dem jüngsten Publikum verpflichtet

von Gerd Taube

Morgen geht im italienischen Bologna das diesjährige Festival des Theaters für das jüngste Publikum Visioni 2019 zu Ende. Dieses Festival ist schon seit Jahren ein Hotspot für alle Künstler*innen und Veranstalter*innen, die sich dem Kinderpublikum von 0 bis 5 Jahren verpflichtet fühlen. 3222Und seit Jahren sorgt das Team der Theatercompanie La Baracca Testoni Raggazzi für eine, den jüngsten wie den älteren Theaterzuschauer*innen, zugewandte Festivalstimmung. Weiterlesen

Z OGNIEM W GLOWIE 3. Ein Fachaustausch zum Jugendtheater in Polen

Von Henning Fangauf

Als erstes zeigt sich ein alter Förderturm, dann die modernen Produktionshallen von Toyota und schließlich die Kirchtürme, nähert man sich von Wroclaw kommend der niederschlesischen Stadt Wałbrzych. Die ehemalige Bergwerksstadt befindet sich im Umbruch. Kohle wird hier nicht mehr gefördert, junge helle Birkenwälder breiten sich auf den Abraumhalden rund um die Stadt aus. Die Moderne hält nur langsam Einzug, die Stadt sucht nach neuer Identität für das 21. Jahrhundert.

© Photo: Dariusz Gdeszmobile: +48 796 689 301

Henning Fangauf, Dramaturg und Lektor, bei seinem Vortrag „Kunst und Gesellschaft – Theater für junges Publikum in Deutschland“, rechts die Übersetzerin Justyna Rodzinska-Nair.

Das Stadttheater, das Teatr Dramatyczny, scheint diese bereits gefunden zu haben. Die junge, erst seit 1964 als „Dramatisches Staatstheater“ existierende Bühne, hat sich seit der Jahrtausendwende einen besonderen Ruf in der polnischen Theaterlandschaft verschafft. Mit seinen progressiven Inszenierungen neuer polnischer und europäischer Stücke durch junge, aufstrebende Regisseur*innen zieht es die überregionale Kritik immer wieder in diesen südwestlichen Teil des Landes.

Und das Theater hat sich konsequent für die Jugend geöffnet. In diversen Jugendclubs probieren sich insbesondere ältere Schülerinnen und Schüler im Theaterspielen aus. Die Theaterpädagogin Dorota Kowalkowska hat hier in den letzten zehn Jahren vorbildliche Arbeit geleistet und das Angebot zum Theater sehen und Theater spielen für junge Leute ausgebaut. Mit ihren Programmen gibt sie der interessierten Jugend von Wałbrzych Halt und Identifikation, zumindest für eine gewisse Zeit, bevor diese zum Studium, zur Ausbildung, die Stadt verlassen müssen.

Der nun jüngst stattgefundene Fachaustausch Z OGNIEM W GLOWIE 3. (zu Deutsch: Mit Feuergesicht 3) mit Expert*innen des jungen Theaters aus Deutschland und aus Polen gehört auch zu diesem Angebot und zum Selbstverständnis des Theaters. Seit 2014 lädt das Theater alle zwei Jahre zu dieser Veranstaltung ein und gewinnt die theaterbegeisterten Jugendlichen der Stadt, aber auch Theaterpädagog*innen und weitere Künstler*innen des ganzen Landes für den internationalen Dialog.  Auch eine gesamte Jahrgangsklasse des Studiengangs Theaterpädagogik von der Universität in Warschau nahm daran teil. Das Programm wurde kuratiert von Dorota Kowalkowska und der Übersetzerin Iwona Nowacka und gemeinsam mit den Jugendlichen vorbereitet. Diese interessierten sich besonders, von den Gästen aus Deutschland etwas über die aktuelle Haltung der Theater zu Politik und Gesellschaft zu erfahren. Mit großer Selbstverständlichkeit moderierten die Jugendlichen einzelnen Gespräche und fühlten den polnischen Regisseuren, die drei Stücke aus Deutschland szenisch einstudiert hatten, kräftig auf den Zahn. Männerdominanz im polnischen Theater – muss das so sein? Wurden die Texte wirklich intensiv genug gelesen und durchdrungen? Wird Humorlosigkeit in der Umsetzung als „ernsthafte Auseinandersetzung“ (miss)-verstanden? Die Fragen der – perfekt vorbereiteten! – Jugendlichen trafen es genau, es war ein Genuss ihren kritischen Nachfragen an die Profi-Künstler*innen zu folgen. Das Theater in Wałbrzych hat damit eine gelungene Form der partizipativen Theaterarbeit eröffnet. Theater als Anlass für den Generationendialog. Chapeau!

Watch. Stop. Repeat. Erase Yourself. – Ein Festivalbericht

Eliot Moleba ist derzeit in Frankfurt im KJTZ zu Gast, arbeitet an neuen Stücken und Projekten und hat das Internationale TheaterFest der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens in St. Vith besucht. Hier schreibt er über seine Erlebnisse im Next Generation-Programm.
Eliot lebt in Johannesburg, ist Autor, Redakteur, Theatermacher, Regisseur und Mitglied von PlayRiot, einem Autor*innenkollektiv, das sich dem Erzählen wagemutiger Geschichten in/aus Südafrika verschrieben hat. Er studierte Dramatic Arts und Diversity Studies an der University of the Witwatersrand und ist momentan Dramaturg am South African State Theatre.

I attended the 29th International TheatreFest that is organised by Agora Theatre, which took place from the 16th to 21st October 2018. The festival happens in a small German-speaking Belgian town of St Vith. As I only know Belgium to be predominantly Flemish\Dutch and French, I found the proposition of travelling from German city of Frankfurt to a German town in Belgium to be quite strange at first, until I learned that it is a bordering town that has changed hands between Germany and Belgium a few times. At this stage, I didn’t know what to expect from such a place but as a South African – given our troubled history and its territorial questions – one is now more comfortable diving into any place with a complex, laden and conflicting national history and identity! And so the journey began!


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

Luckily, driving into St Vith was a magical experience because it offered a very contrasting scenery! The first thing that greets you from a distance is its dramatic landscape, which holds and wears the beauty of its greenery on the palm and sleeves of the small surrounding hills. And as you rolled downed the window, the fresh air hits you with the whiff of cow dungs from all the nearby feed and the sound of a trucker approaching along a narrow road. This will probably be the most congested traffic this road will see today! And with the emblem: Welcome to St Vith! This moment felt like stepping back into my childhood. Even though I grew up in the rural Northern parts of South Africa, the familiar aromas and the open landscape that allows you to feel and connect to the natural surroundings immediately transported me back to my humble origins.
To compliment this feeling of being at home (alas in a strange place), was the warm welcome I (and I hope everyone else) received from the theatre staff. Amidst the rush of getting the festival ready to hit the road, everyone never missed an opportunity to stop and offer you a friendly welcoming smile. I am always amazed at how easing this small gesture is when one experiences a new place and people for the first time. In a few glimpses and impressions, I was already convinced that the festival is ran by an awesome team and we are in for a great treat!


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

I attended the festival as part of the Next Generation (NG) programme. The theme of the NG was Watch. Stop. Repeat. Erase Yourself. It is a loaded theme and the festival invited a small pack of 10 young people to unpack it in relation to their festival program. That is, we were tasked with a mission to see the theatre pieces, attend both the organized or informal meetings, observing everything that the festival had to offer – and to do something with it. In the end, we were asked to give our experiences and impressions of the TheaterFest a form or shape, whatever that might be.
The core of the festival programme was made of 12 different theatre performances that were usually followed by an open discussion called „moving thoughts“, which was moderated by the artistic team. This exchange offered the audience a chance to engage with the theatremakers who were presenting the work (and vice versa). While my participation in them was limited due to language constraints (that is, I could not judge how critical, challenging, or robust the engagement was), but it was still interesting to see how energetic these encounters were, and how the small gatherings prompted much enthusiasm from both the audience sharing their impressions of the work(s) and artists responding to the feedback. It is not a feature that you find in a lot of big festival but it is also vital to foster a culture of not just seeing theatre work but to speak back to it, especially with the makers. I find it enriching as a theatremaker to hear how my work is received – both the criticisms and compliments alike!


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

In the NG programme, we were fortunate to have a space and time to extend these conversations about the performances we witnessed. Although we never had the audience of the theatremakers themselves in our sessions, they were tasked with providing us any piece of material (i.e. a text, image, etc.) that we can use as an entry point into our discussion of their work and then our programme leader sourced addition material. The material formed the basis of how we framed and unpacked them in relation to the work itself. Our conversations were multifaceted as they offered various perspectives and interpretations among the diverse group members. Curiously, as we were from different backgrounds ourselves, our varying reactions were also problematised. It was not just about what your reaction to something was, but where you were also reacting from; and suddenly the question emerged of who we are and who do we speak for – if for anyone at all – both as individuals and a collective. This began to eat away at the assumption(s) of what it means to be the Next Generation, both among ourselves and the absent but felt larger festival public. I do not know how conscious we were of this fact but we have spent the rest of our time together trying to unpack these complex questions – and perhaps this was in search of a collective voice. Did we find it? I don’t know. But the discursive reading, questioning, challenging, (re)framing and unpacking that punctuated these dialogical moments was nuanced and richly textured. We found it productive to engage these questions and their embedded assumptions. And I think the discursive process of engaging these questions became the work of our meetings.


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

For me, this is the most exciting thing about the potential of intercultural dialogue. It was able to demonstrate how we needed to understand our own diverse positionalities for any effort to build a collective voice to be possible. And, of course, that these conversations were carried beyond the group sessions into coffee, lunch, and dinner breaks showed just how important it was for us to digest the experiences of the theatrical buffet that was so spectacularly organised (and generously offered) and our own subjectivities and sensibilities! This also weaved discussions about how we work in our own respective processes, and even played several exercises together.

These moments of ‚digestion‘ proved to be the most valuable of experiences of my stay. Yet, at the end of our stay, we were faced with an interesting question: how do we give shape to these ‚digestive‘ moments? Do we have to? In the Next Generation, although it is not obligated, it is nonetheless expected that we would take this digestion of the experiences and impressions and give them some form or shape, to present at the end of the festival. This is how usually Next Generation program is framed within ASSITEJ. And it’s not difficult to understand why this expectation is placed on the NG. I mean, it is a good way for other members of the festival and programme organisers to see – perhaps in somewhat more concrete terms – the impact that this moment and programme has had on its participants. Yet, this is not how the script was played at the TheaterFest. The doors opened but nothing was presented except a cleaned room and remnants or fragments of written notes, a looped conversation we recorded of one of the sessions, props we collected and played with, which were all neatly packed against one side of the room. For the most part, the work that had taken place in this room was erased. Ironically, and, in hindsight, this became an interesting play on the theme of the NG programme: Watch. Stop. Repeat. Erase Yourself. We had watched the festival shows. Stopped to think and respond or react to it. Repeated this over and over. And now here we were, with traces of our encounters and ourselves erased.


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

At first I battled to understand how I could explain this ‚presentation‘ to the audience who came up to me to ask directly about what it was or meant. In their eyes, everything in this space reflected nothing much really. I think the offer was read and understood as being empty. It took a while to make this distinction myself but the room was not empty, it was emptied. We emptied it. But emptied of what? Now, this is a trickier question to answer. But to make this attempt, I would like to highlight and reframe two key words I have used so far in order to articulate my next point more succinctly. If one has to think of this digestion I have spoken about as ‚research‘, at the end of this program it was hoped that the result will lead to some ‚practice‘, i.e. something the group does to give shape to the experience and emerging thoughts gained from engaging the festival, which would be what is presented when the NG opens their door to the public. I have been lucky enough to participate in other NG programmes before, and this is usually what happens. But I think in this NG programme something strange, unexpected and quite interesting happened: the ‚research‘ (i.e. this digestion) became the ‚practice‘ itself. I don’t think that we had intended it to be, so perhaps that explains the ’strangeness‘ of our presentation both to the public and ourselves.
For obvious reasons, I don’t think the public was quite satisfied with this result. If anything, they were underwhelmed and perhaps even disappointed at what we ‚offered‘. But I find this ‚disappointment‘ to have a productive side to it. How? Because it is a moment of rupture in what this programme is expected to mean or be. As such, this, for me, has raised interesting implications for the other NG programmes going forward. If we say that the participants are not given the obligation to create a ‚presentation‘ at the end of their stay, do we really mean it? In other words, are we really fine with it if they do not to create something? If we are, then I think the current framework is fine. But, as we were met with somewhat disappointed faces, it is clear that there is tacit expectation at play here and it is more binding that people expect. And not only is that fine but also understandable. Because this is an opportunity to respond to something unique and to give form to something unknown. Read me well, I think it would be great if that happens but for future NG programmes we must not forget that this is also a moment that brings artists „from different walks of life together to take part in an exchange of ideas, stories, practices, and most importantly, inspiration. These artists meet, eat, sleep, cry, laugh, joke, drink, play, live, and spend a week together; watching performances and engaging in formal and informal critical discussions about how they receive and make theatre.“ Should the impact of such a dynamic encounter be reduced to the form or shape that the participants are able to give their experiences and thoughts? I hope not.


Photo: Marie Aurore D’Avans; Copyright: AGORA Theater

Overall, I thought the festival programme was fabulous! As a non-German-French speaker, I had my fair share of confusion, ah-ha moments, and great conversations that I hope will inspire new ideas and new collaborations! I look forward to experiencing Agora’s International TheaterFest again in the near future!

Eliot Molebas Aufenthalt bei der ASSITEJ Deutschland und im Kinder- und Jugendtheaterzentrum in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland wird gefördert aus Mitteln des Programms Internationale Jugendarbeit des Kinder- und Jugendplans des Bundes.


BKJ Fachausschuss „Internationales“ tagte am 24. April in Hannover

In mehreren Fachausschüssen, die die Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung (BKJ) eingerichtet hat, beschäftigen sich Vertreter*innen der über 50 Mitgliedsorganisationen mit speziellen Fragestellungen zur Kulturellen Bildung. Dazu zählen Themen wie „Kultur macht Schule“, „Kulturelle Bildung von 0-6“ oder „Freiwilliges Engagement“. Die Fachausschüssen treffen sich in regelmäßigen Abständen und laden externe Fachberater*innen ein, Impulse zu geben und sich an den Diskursen zu beteiligen. Am Dienstag, 24. April fand die Frühjahrssitzung des Fachausschusses „Internationales“ in Hannover statt. Es wurde erneut das Thema „Internationalisierung von Trägern der kulturellen Bildung durch Organisations- und Personalentwicklung“ diskutiert. Dieses stand bereits vor zwei Jahren auf der Tagesordnung des Fachausschusses und wurde von der Bildungsreferentin Kerstin Giebel moderiert. Das Thema stößt bei den Verbänden auf großes Interesse, sind doch alle auf unterschiedlichste Weise international aktiv.


FOCUS ON AFRICA : ASSITEJ International Archives Online

Zimbabwe High Energy Dance Company © Pangolin Productions

© Pangolin Productions

News on the Website

Understand the Arguments, explore the Activities, look at the Performances, read on: A variety of documents give an insight into the contemporary Theatre for Children and Youth in Africa. Video-Stills describe different types or show most inspiring performances. With texts and illustrations express posters and flyers the diversity and plurality of African cultures and theater-styles. Newsletters and reports elaborate on the varied discourses between artists and within their organization. With the latest delivery from the World Congress of ASSITEJ 2017 the ASSITEJ International Archives offer new sources for the further development of TYA worldwide.

Current Performances and Cultural History

Since March 2018 we are grateful also to present – as a reprint from TEATRE LALEK – a review of African guest performances displayed during the ASSITEJ World Congress 2017 by Agata Drwięga.

Nyasha Mujuru, Manuela Ngoi Rymis, Jürgen Kirschner © private

N. Mujuru, J. Kirschner, M. Ngoi Rymis © private

For the webpublication and to supplement the new arrivals a team in Frankfurt (Main) has completely revised and updated the Collection of the ASSITEJ International Archives.

A short introduction to the ASSITEJ International Archives is published on the Website of the Children and Youth Theatre Center as well as a detailed description of this part of the Center’s Collection.