Performing Democracy

Eleven Days of Dance, Theatre, Performance and Music

Dear audience,

our festival has a new name: Performing Democracy!

In the last edition of the festival, it was still a subtitle, but now it's the name and thus determines the program. The threat to democracies and the rise of autocrats has taken on alarming proportions, and anti-democratic parties are becoming increasingly popular. But how can we counter these processes? 
Together with you and the artists at the festival, we would like to discuss current issues in a fun and artistic way. A wide variety of formal languages will be used: from powerful choral singing to expressive physicality, from playful animated film to stunning drama. 


Das Festivalprogramm

In our viewings, we focused on three main topics and developed leitmotifs for the program that democracies currently have to deal with: Climate change and its consequences; wars and their effects on the next generation; democratic maturity and resistance.

Climate change and utopia

We are kicking off our festival with a visionary production by Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues and her Companhia de Danças on the theme of climate change and utopia. The dance piece Encantado is a sensual call for the equal and shared existence of all living beings – whether human, animal or plant. 
We find a completely different kind of appeal in Out of the Blue by the Belgian production collective Huysmans & Dereere. With documentary finesse, we are shown how humans discover and exploit the deep sea as a lucrative market in their search for new resources. 
Schauspiel Essen's production Die Wand (360°), based on the novel by Marlen Haushofer, is a rather intimate appeal that confronts the audience with itself in a virtual reality. 
Daniel Hellmann calls for a happening between art and activism, utopia and parody in the guided city walk Try Walking in my Hooves. The performance SPAfrica with and by Julian Hetzel and Ntando Cele uses absurd constellations to explore how power structures and existing privileges affect Europe's relationship with the global South. They juxtapose natural and emotional resources as they question the limits of empathy. 
War and childhood

Democracies are once again increasingly relying on military violence as a means of politics and the horror of armed conflicts has become part of everyday life in the media. We want to counter these loud voices and have invited productions that focus on women and children. They are refugees from war and persecution, witnesses of bombings, who have their say in Marta Górnicka's Mothers. A Song for Wartime. In an impressive choral form, the twenty-one women from Ukraine, Belarus and Poland speak and sing about their experiences. Not as victims, but as the protagonists of their stories. 
Two further productions take a look at the weakest in the armed conflicts: the children. The Ljubljana Puppet Theatre's Irgendwo anders for children aged 7 and up tells a subtle and touching story about the absurdity of war and how it is perceived through the eyes of children. 
In our most intimate production for one person at a time, Dear Leila by Basel Zaraa, we immerse ourselves in the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Syria and become witnesses in a very personal journey into the artist's family history. 

Democracy and resistance

On the one hand, we are seeing dwindling trust in elected representatives, and on the other, a diverse range of citizen engagement for concrete goals and projects. This new desire for co-determination and protest can also be found in our invited guest performances. In the semi-documentary play Depois do silêncio by Brazilian theater maker Christina Jatahy, the three protagonists defend themselves against the inhumane policies of the ruling class and fight for a chance for change and a new way of shaping the world. 
In a production by the junges theater basel, young performers take on the fight for justice. They try out historical speeches to see what they still do to them today, they speak slogans, struggle for words and talk themselves Um Kopf und Kragen.
In Foreshadow by choreographer Alexander Vantournhout, eight dancers attempt to overcome an obstacle. As a human pyramid, they spiral higher and higher, relying solely on their strength and confidence to make it together. 
Ukraine Fire by the Dakh Daughters is a musical and visual manifesto for freedom and life, art as resistance. Between punk, cabaret and musical theater – weird, wild and subtle - they sing and trumpet their thirst for freedom to the world. 

In 2024, almost half a billion people in Europe will be able to vote for a new parliament. In Freiburg, we have a local election in June, and other state elections are taking place in Germany. With the gaming format Schulbesuch Europa by the performance group Rimini Protokoll, we are visiting schools in Freiburg and the surrounding area. It is a performance that can be transported in hand luggage and asks: How much Europe is there in a classroom?

Networking with other cooperation partners was also very important to us in this edition of the festival. In collaboration with the Catholic Academy, the Slow Club, the Documentation Centre for National Socialism, the Kommunales Kino, the Literaturhaus, the DELPHI_space and other partners, we have put together a supporting program to intensify the discussion of our three main topics. Thanks to the City of Freiburg, Zukunftsfonds Freiburg and Sparkasse Freiburg-Nördlicher Breisgau, we are delighted to be able to extend the invitation again this year:

Let's perform democracy!


The Curators

Sandro Lunin, Theater Freiburg 
Sonja Karadza, Theater im Marienbad 
Jürgen Eick, E-WERK Freiburg