Symposium – Staging Complexity 2020

March 18 – 22, 2020: A Lab on Art and Theater in the Digital Age

Digitality is thus also shaping artistic content, transforming established modes of representation and giving rise to new art forms. Algorithms regulate the flow of traffic, social networks create new forms of relationships, and management systems optimize workflows. Digitality is thus also shaping artistic content, transforming established modes of representation and giving rise to new art forms. How do theatre and the arts reflect and explore these profound changes?

In the context of a public online symposium, artists, scientists, and curators analyzed the digital and networked present together with the Cheers community. They were interested in questioning the potential, but also the limits, of the digital in society, culture and art: How does the digital transformation affect our everyday social practices? How on artistic narrative and design? What does this mean for directors, video artists, actors or musicians? What for their audience? How do we experience art and cultural practices that not only make use of individual technical tools, but are domiciled in computer-generated environments?

Lectures and discussions in the context of a video conference

Diana McCarty opened the symposium with the question of techno-feminist modes of action and organization, Anja Breljak dealt with the fact that computer technologies have become an integral part of our privacy, Christian Sievers and Régine Debatty asked how artists react to dispositifs of insecurity, control and precariousness, and Philipp Jonathan Ehmann discussed how social networks and computer gaming are changing narratives in the performing and visual arts. Last but not least, the symposium created space for discussion and exchange about visions and fears in digital times.

It is also gratifying that there was nationwide coverage: Stefan Keim described his experiences on the radio on Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Sascha Westphal published a longer article on Nachtkritik.

Program overview

11:00 Welcome (To the video recording on Youtube)

  • Michael Eickhoff (Academy for Theater and Digitality, Theater Dortmund)
  • Klaas Werner (
  • Sina-Marie Schneller, Jascha Sommer (Cheers for Fears)

11:30 Intervention I (currently not viewable on Youtube; we will point to Diana McCarty’s next release).

  • Diana McCarty: Be(coming) media – technofeminist pasts, presents & potentials (ENG)

12:00 Discussion on Intervention I

12:30 Intervention II (To the video recording on Youtube)

  • Anja Breljak: Staging Affect? Digitization as/in socio-affective process/es (DE)

13:00 Diccussion on Intervention II

13:30 Pause

14:30 Tele-Panel: Artistic handling of (post)digital challenges (To the video recording on Youtube)

  • Christian Sievers: The dream of control, dealing with uncertainty – and what art makes of it (DE)
  • Régine Debatty: Where are the click-luddites? (ENG)
  • Philipp Jonathan Ehmann: Multimedia theater – completely without media, completely without theatre(DE)

16:00 Pause

16:15 Discussion on the tele-panel

17:00 End

The Staging Complexity lab was organized by Cheers for Fears in co-production with the Academy for Theater and Digitality, Theater Dortmund and the office (supported by Hartware MedienKunstVerein). Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of NRW and the Kunststiftung NRW.