Creation Processes in Theatre by and with Disabled Actors and Directors

Pascale Grange (Research Associate), Nele Jahnke (Artist Researcher), Dr. Yvonne Schmidt (Supervision/ Researcher), Zurich University of the Arts, Institute for the Performing Arts and Film, Dr. Silke Andris (Research Associate), University of Basel, Institute of Cultural Studies and European Ethnology

Cooperation partners: Theater HORA, Institute for the Performing Arts and Film, Institute of Cultural Studies and European Ethnology at the University of Basel

The second sub-study is linked to the long-term performance project Freie Republik HORA, an artistic experiment that started in 2013 and is set up for 5 years. In this process-orientated project, the members of the Theater HORA ensemble develop directing projects. There are three phases to the project, phase 1 in which they direct collectively, phase 2 in which they make their first attempts at directing on their own, and phase 3 in which 6 members of the Theater HORA ensemble carry out their own directing projects, with a budget and, in some instances, participation of external artists, and which are presented in front of an audience. This last phase is accompanied and examined by the research team. The aim of the project is, on the one hand, that every member of the Theater HORA ensemble is granted the opportunity to practice artistic self-determination and self-responsibility. On the other hand, the audience is supposed to practice the critical analysis of performances by and with disabled actors.

The research team looks into three different cognitive interests. Pascal Grange and Silke Andris – who are cultural anthropologists as well as filmmakers – follow this third phase with their cameras. They are interested in the ways in which the directors realise their directing projects. In addition, they are keen to find out what this change of position and perspective of actor to director means for each of them.

Nele Jahnke, who represents the artistic management of Theater HORA together with Michael Elber, practices self-reflection, since she does not take the role of the artistic director and consultant in the rehearsal process, but rather that of an executive assistant and organiser. By this, she hopes to give the “new” directors freedom and leeway in their artistic work. Concerning this, the question arises, how a state of minimal influence and support from the outside can be achieved. For this, Jahnke takes on a double position – she is both researcher as well as assistant – and reflects upon her position in relation to the members of the Theater HORA ensemble. From the perspective of theatre studies, Yvonne Schmidt, post-doctoral researcher and supervisor of this sub-study, is interested in how the directors’ practices and role are treated as a transitory negotiation process rather than a personal action.

This sub-study examines how systems of making theatre are developed in the rehearsal space as an aesthetic as well as social space. This is done by the means of participatory observation and interviews. The results of this study are an ethnographic film on the production process, which is produced at the IPF in cooperation with the University of Basel, as well as journal publications, also at the IPF.