ALL OF EUROPE'S A STAGE!

YOUTH DRAMA PROJECT

In collaboration with Europe Direct Düsseldorf, Goethe Gymnasium and Reading School, English Theatre Düsseldorf offered a Youth Theatre Project that brought together students from Düsseldorf and its Sister City Reading for a theatre weekend that concentrated on the theme, All of Europe's a Stage. We are grateful to the Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen for their support in providing funding for this project!

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of North Rhine Westphalia this year, English Theatre Düsseldorf conducted a Three-day Theatre Workshop, in English, from 11th-13th June 2021.

This workshop, which had originally intended to bring a group of students from Reading UK, to Düsseldorf, its Sister City, was redesigned to accommodate each country’s current Corona regulations. Instead of meetings, presentations, exchanges and interactions in the form of theater games and discussions in person, workshops were prepared in each school’s home country and exchanges were shared between the two schools online with the help of a web camera and Zoom. The theatre weekend concentrated on the theme, “The future of Europe“.

Twenty-five students ages 14- 16; half from the Goethe Gymnasium School, Düsseldorf, Germany, and half from the Reading School Grammar School in Reading, UK, were divided into 4 subgroups, in their home countries. Each was given one of the following sub-topics; “communication”, “environment”, “borders” and “identity“. Over the three-day period, students participated in research, theatre exercises and games, scene work and improvisation, creating a 10 minute performance based on their groups’ topic. This was then shared across borders, online via Zoom, on the final afternoon. Each afternoon included a session where the 4 groups came together online, participating in theater games and discussions altogether from afar. Students from both countries could also share short videos they had made to present their „home cities“ to the other students at their „sister city“ school. The anticipation and excitement of these sessions was thrilling to observe. Perhaps there was even a greater sense of freedom and openness, because there was also a feeling of safety with the cameras. The students could see each other, and hear each other, they could exchange with each other, but they could also jump out of view and quickly hide. This was an interesting element, that is not possible when all are in the same room.

The individual groups were led by four ETD theatre pedagogues and coordinated by the ETD production team. A filmmaker from Mindnapped GmbH documented the work over the weekend and edited a short trailer to provide all involved with a reminder of the project and sister-City exchange.

The aim of the workshop was to provide young people with a platform to collaborate with students from different cultural backgrounds and to express themselves through theatre on significant international themes. This worked beautifully even from afar. Students were allowed a “virtual stage” to express how they feel about current topics surrounding such as Brexit, and the possibility to express themselves on what Europe means to them. T-Shirts with the logo: „ALL OF EUROPE IS A STAGE“ were distributed, and each side had the chance to eat some typical snacks from the opposite countries.

It was a very positive weekend, with exchanges of chat groups and other social media platforms between the students. The students very much enjoyed themselves, as did we! These young people were very excited to make new friends in another Country and the wish was expressed from many members from both sides, for the chance to eventually meet in person one day as was originally planned. And although “the grass is always greener” on the other side, it seems the students also learned to appreciate their own Cities more, as seen through the eyes of their peers.

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Photos: © English Theatre Düsseldorf

ETD would like to thank the City of Düsseldorf and Europe Direct, Düsseldorf, as well as the Goethe Gymnasium and Reading School for making this fantastic project possible!