I’m posting a string of German season announcements for 2013/14 on my tumblr.

These are kind of amazing documents: proper books, sometimes well over 100 pages long, that introduce the ensemble for the coming season — with full-size head shots and detailed bios — but more importantly, provide information about the next season’s premieres. Those new productions are usually contextualized intellectually or conceptually, often with interviews or excerpts from essays; many of the books feature conversations with directors, artistic directors, or thinkers from beyond the world of theatre, all in an effort to present a coherent (or consistently inconsistent) vision of what the next season is all about — or, more ambitiously, what this particular theatre’s mission, or the entire art form’s mission, might be.

What you’ll very rarely find in these publication are references to the commercial success elsewhere of any of the plays, or the playwrights. These aren’t texts designed to appeal to an audience who wants to see things that have proven popular with other audiences or that are exactly like the things they so much enjoyed last year, or last century. They’re designed, instead, to encourage audiences to think about what they might encounter in the theatre, and why what they see there might matter — in political, or philosophical, or aesthetic terms. It’s not that these documents don’t want to appeal to an audience — they do. In that sense, they are advertisements and have a commercial goal. But they approach that appeal in a way that attempts to reframe an audience’s expectations, that tries to prepare them for a theatrical experience and a response to that experience that goes beyond a commercial transaction.

2 Responses to Season Announcements, German style

  1. prefernotto says:

    just found your still-waiting-for list on your tumblr. for leipzig, with the new artistic director enrico luebbe the theatre is renamed (or better: named back?), so the current website is: http://www.schauspiel-leipzig.de/
    there you can find a preview of their spielzeitheft – although they seem not to believe in pdfs, too

    • Holger Syme says:

      Thank you! Their website was down yesterday — glad it’s back up, and glad to see Luebbe put together such an impressive-looking first season.

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