The Academy for Contemporary Theatre Journalism aims to strengthen the increasingly precarious field of theatre journalism in the German-speaking world in the conviction that a public discourse on theatre, dance and performance is important for art and society. Since 2019/20, the academy, which sees itself as continuing education in a professional field in transition, has been offered annually.
The Academy is dedicated to three aspects in particular:
1) It creates a network among often solo cultural journalists, be they editors or freelance writers, from radio, TV, print and online journalism. This network now comprises over forty committed and competent colleagues, mainly in Germany and Austria, in rural as well as urban areas. All those who are actively involved benefit greatly from the competence, experience and curiosity of the other participants – in the conviction that the crisis-ridden cultural journalism needs networks like these more urgently than ever.
2) Over three long weekends, the Academy offers time and space to reflect on one’s own journalistic practice and to try out forms of reporting on theatre beyond deadlines and often narrowly defined media formats. What role do theatre criticism and journalism play in public discourse today? Who is given a voice in this discourse at all – and why? What ideas can be developed for contemporary, fun, agile reporting? The invited experts, as well as the participants, will present their working methods. This exchange enables a deeper knowledge of the field and opens up other perspectives on one’s own everyday journalistic life. Practical questions such as earning a living and cooperation with editorial offices are also topics of the talks and workshops.
3) The inspiring and impulse-giving occasion for this self-reflection, the testing and expansion of one’s own means is an intensive examination of the field of contemporary performing arts. How can these heterogeneous artistic works, how can audio walks, installations, performances and dance pieces be translated into language and text? Are the existing critical tools sufficient here, what other forms of reporting are conceivable? How can journalists take up the central artistic and critical impulses that emanate from contemporary forms of performing art?
The joint journeys to the various houses open up precise insights into the working structures of the independent scene, into different profiles and programmes. Conversations with artists, curators and theoreticians provide a glimpse into the “engine room” and deliver highly diverse answers to the questions of how this theatre is created and what role the respective institutions play in their city.
Last but not least, the Academy spins an ongoing conversation about theatre, journalism and society that extends and intensifies over three long weekends, shifting perspectives and bringing singular actors into a fruitful exchange.
The Academy for Contemporary Theatre Journalism is developed and run by Esther Boldt and Dr. Philipp Schulte.
Esther Boldt is a journalist, dance and theatre critic. She works for nachtkritik.de, Theater heute, taz, tanz Zeitschrift, ZEIT ONLINE and Hessischer Rundfunk, among others. She also is a member of numerous juries. Philipp Schulte is professor of theatre theory with a focus on contemporary forms at the Norwegian Theatre Academy and managing director of the Hessian Theatre Academy in Frankfurt; he directs academy programmes as part of the Ruhrtriennale, the Theaterformen festival and the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen. Both studied applied theatre studies in Gießen.
Academy organisers Esther Boldt and Philipp Schulte speak here with two of the participants, freelance author Theresa Luise Gindlstrasser and taz editor Jan-Paul Koopmann, about their experiences, solidarity and the future of criticism.
Academy#1: The first edition of the Academy for Contemporary Theatre Journalism took place from November 2019 to March 2020. In Essen, Dresden and Hamburg, 20 critics from all over Germany dealt with the possibilities and requirements of journalism that does justice to the diverse productions and production methods of contemporary theatre forms.
Academy#2: For the second time, the Alliance of International Production Houses is offering a programme for journalists in 2021, which is intended as further training in the extensive field of reporting on decidedly experimental practices in theatre and dance as well as contemporary performance art.
Academy #3: In autumn 2022, the third edition took place in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Düsseldorf and offered participants time and space to engage with current theatre forms together with invited experts, to reflect on their own journalistic practice and to try out new text forms and ways of writing.
Academy #4: The fourth edition will take place between November 2023 and February 2024 in three modules of 4 days each in Frankfurt, Essen and Hamburg. Interested persons could apply for participation via an open call until mid-July.