Aarhus University Seal

(Re)Thinking Diversity in Contemporary European Theatre: A Re-Minder

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

See relations at Aarhus University

Peter M. Boenisch - Lecturer

In the 21st century, European state- and city-theatres no longer contribute to a homogenous bourgeois ‘public sphere’, but they need to engage with a plural and, in the apt term proposed by German sociologist Andreas Reckwitz, “singularised society” with its contrasting, often competing mindsets and interests. Various attempts have been made in recent years to represent on stage greater cultural diversity, most notably at theatres such as Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater. But how can diversity become a truly integral part of the thinking of the theatrical mind at a (following arts scholar Nora Sternfeld) post-representational level? In this communication, I will exemplarily discuss the recent work at Schauspiel Dortmund under the artistic direction of Julia Wissert, since 2020 the first Afro-German Intendantin of a German city theatre. Departing from foundational principles of their work, such as the notion of “intersectional diversity” and strategies of “[en]countering”, and their ongoing initiative “Future of Theatre – Theatre of the Future”, I will develop the concept of “institutional poetics” as a critical perspective to interrogate the structural and systemic ‘thinking’ of diversity that precedes, embeds and underwrites specific productions and performances. I will argue that as “theatrical mind” of present-day European culture, theatre no longer just represents, dramatizes and stages crucial contemporary discourses and debates. Much rather, through its theatrical thinking, it contributes to the experiential (rather than just intellectually argued or imagined) understanding of “diversity” towards a notion of plurality no longer conceived in terms of ethnicity, biography and heritage. Drawing on Paul Carter’s idea of decolonised “archipelagic thinking”, I propose that theatrical mind thus become a foundation of a civic sphere of (future) commonality within the singularised society of the present.
25 May 2022

Event (Conference)

TitleEASTAP 2022 Conference: Theatrical Mind
LocationPiccolo Teatro & University of Milano
Degree of recognitionInternational event


  • Dramaturgy, Schauspiel Dortmund, Diversity, Contemporary Theatre, Institutional Dramaturgy, Archipelagic Thinking

ID: 269979053