Workshop program – Staging Complexity (2020)

A laboratory on art and theatre in the digital age

Rahel Spöhrer, Anneliese Ostertag
Broken surfaces: From skin to screen (Workshop 1)

„Writing can be thought of as skin, in the sense that what we write causes ripples and flows that ‘skin us’ into being: we write, we skin.”

Sara Ahmed und Jackie Stacey

Skin is touched, is border and transition, protects and makes vulnerable – a surface that is never smooth. In its semi-permeability, it is open to impacts – light, temperature, vibrations, substances – and is written in and through these touches. Similar to skin, the screen delimits and demarcates world. It touches and is touched, a surface full of traces. Skin that touches the screen and thus inscribes itself in places, people and discourses.

But how can skin be written? How to find a language that is able to get close without claiming and taking over? How to create moments of transition where boundary lines become porous? What are techniques of producing skin, touch and surfaces on- and offline?

In the seminar, we rehearsed and speculated together on how a “rewriting the skin” or “re-skinning the writing” takes place in texts, images, and performances. Artistic works, physical exercises, writing practices and texts were used to test the relationship between proximity and distance, embodiment and inscription. Texts, collages and images created by the students themselves were brought together in a zine during the seminar and related to each other.

Rahel Gloria Spöhrer is a dramaturge and performer. As co-founder and part of the performance group THE AGENCY, she has toured with the work “Medusa Bionic Rise” at Tanz im August in Berlin, at the Athens Biennale and the Blue Skies Festival at Pact Zollverein. THE AGENCY’s works interrogate what the augmented and programmed body can be on the theatrical stage. The focus is on the question of possible connections between virtual and immersive theatrical techniques with regard to the production and reflection of affects, emotions and intimacy.

Anneliese Ostertag works as a dramaturge, curator and editor. Her research focuses on archival practices and the intersection of art and ethnography. She is co-editor of en plein air – Ethnographies of the Digital (Spector Books, 2019) and writes on art, performance, and net art.

Christiane Hütter: Be my guest in contemporary society. (Workshop 2)

The ” contemporary society ” that took place in 2020, above all indoors. At home.

Where, in our complex post-factual reality, can we come together to not always talk to those who share and reinforce our opinions? Where can we experience systems (and ourselves in them) in a protected setting, change perspectives?

Where can social protocols be hacked, utopias developed and verified? In the theater? Maybe. But it was closed at the time of the workshop. So we dealt with creating involving spaces and situations:

  • Guesting/hosting instead of always presenting content (and yourself!).
  • What does it mean when the participants (fka: audience) do not consume, but interact, play along, participate, co-create?
  • What technologies and methods do we use to create good experiential spaces?
  • What practices might we also take with us into the post-pandemic period?

In the course of the workshop, in addition to methodological input, there were a number of hands-on exercises and the opportunity to develop own formats.

Christiane Hütter/ @frauhue/ is a freelance artist and psychologist. Using storytelling and game design, she analyzes systems and creates participatory spaces of possibility at the intersection of art, science, and public space. She co-founded the Invisible Playground network and has been artistically responsible for various play-oriented projects for and with cultural institutions around the world. Since 2019, she has been the owner of, a platform for digital literature. Together with Frank Rieger she wrote the interactive CypherHope punk novel “Gefährliche Menschen”(Dangerous People) as a polyplot. In April 2020, the first online-only hackathon for digital formats that connect people, initiated and organized by her, took place under the World Transition. Christiane is currently a fellow at the Academy for Theater and Digitality at Schauspiel Dortmund.

Online appointments: Friday, 24.04.2020, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, 25.04.2020, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday, 26.04.2020, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Marina Miller Dessau, Arne Vogelgesang
Utilization and truth. Media-based recombining of political internet videos
(Workshop 3)

How does real political theatre get out of the digital space and back onto the stage? During the workshop, the method of live re-enactment of video documents was presented in practice. In a first step, we used them to performatively analyze and deconstruct the theatrical means and staging techniques of propagandistic vlogs, messages and political speeches. In the process, we produced new material by re-enacting selected levels of representation and then undertook playful experiments with reassembling this material. Accompanying this practical work, we discussed with each other what theatre can actually do with researched media material, what are its limits and which narrative potentials are inherent in technical aids and methods themselves. Marina Miller Dessau studied acting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She observes strongly oscillating behavior of people in the digital space, searches for physical translations for theatre and deals with high technology for the performative body.Arne Vogelgesangstudied directing at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, tinkers with internet & software material and gives lectures / workshops on radical propaganda. As Internil, Arne and Marina are producing research-based performance theatre together with colleagues. For more than twelve years, they have been working with their own and evolving variant of reenactment – the physically and/or linguistically exact live copying of documentary video and sound material.