The independent theatre scene in Switzerland is lively, innovative and well-connected internationally. Ensuring that this momentum is retained and the scene continues to flourish requires talented young practitioners with fresh perspectives and new ideas. They have either been trained at one of Switzerland’s four theatre academies, or have found their way to Switzerland from abroad through employment at a theatre or through co-productions in the independent scene. This regularly leads to the formation of new Swiss groups, whose members increasingly come from a variety of international backgrounds.
We are committed to supporting aspiring young artists on an ongoing basis as an investment in a thriving and innovative theatre scene. Our measures are based on the specific requirements of theatre groups and set in where a lack has been identified. To enable young groups to forge lasting ties within the theatre scene, cooperation with renowned event organisers from all over Switzerland is one of the key conditions for all projects supported.
(Photo © Piero Chiussi/Agentur StandArt)
Freischwimmer is a travelling platform for young artists whose work moves between the genres of theatre, music, performance, live art, visual art, film and new media. Its focus is on individually developed projects based on associations between artistic, scientific and everyday experience, knowledge and practice.
This platform for emerging young artists is co-produced by the following five theatre venues: Gessnerallee Zurich, Sophiensaele Berlin, Forum Freies Theater Düsseldorf, Mousonturm Frankfurt a. M. and brut Wien. They each select five to six draft project from their specific region and provide guidance in the realisation process at their location. The productions are then staged in connection with the travelling Freischwimmer festival in all the cities involved. Thanks to the cooperation with a variety of event organisers in the German-speaking world, the groups concerned not only become better known, but also gain valuable tour and guest performance experience.
The Freischwimmer festival has been supported by Pro Helvetia since it was launched over ten years ago and is the only travelling festival in the German-speaking area that stages new productions only.
Treibstoff Theatertage in Basel offers young performance and theatre practitioners a production and presentation platform. The event is usually held once every two years and has been supported by Pro Helvetia since it was launched in 2004.
The theatre days are aimed at professional, but not yet established theatre practitioners from Switzerland, Germany and Austria, who are invited to submit a project idea in the form of a written concept. Out of the invariably large number of entries, a jury picks seven projects that are subsequently developed in co-production with junges theater basel, Kaserne Basel and ROXY Birsfelden and then premiered at Treibstoff Theatertage. Treibstoff supports the aspiring artists both through financial contributions to the production as well as in matters of infrastructure, technology and dramaturgy.
StückLabor Basel (play lab Basel) is a programme initiated by Theater Basel in 2008 for the promotion of new Swiss drama. Originally founded as a series of workshop days for the creation of four new theatre texts, it was changed into an author-in-residence model for three young Swiss playwrights in 2011 and has remained so ever since. Each year, three authors are selected and given the possibility of working for a whole season at a renowned theatre in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Theatres taking part in the programme are Theater Basel, Konzert Theater Bern and Luzerner Theater. In close collaboration with theatre practitioners at these institutions, the young dramatists each create a new theatre text that is then premiered at the end of the season. StückLabor coordinates the requirements of the project partners, fosters networking and the exchange of information, and supports the writers by means of coaching and workshops.
Premio – award for aspiring young theatre and dance practitioners
Premio is a national Swiss competition for young theatre and dance practitioners that is jointly financed by Migros Kulturprozent, Ernst-Göhner foundation and Pro Helvetia. Responsibility for the selection procedure, comprising choice of dossiers, semi-final and final, lies with representatives of currently 35 relevant Swiss institutions – theatre and dance houses, festivals and theatre academies. The format thus represents an ideal platform on which up-and-coming young artists can present their projects and forge contacts.
The award winners receive a production grant of CHF 25,000. Further prizes include the possibility of guest performances in various regions of Switzerland. The fees for the theatre or dance groups hired by Premio members are borne by the three sponsors Ernst-Göhner foundation, Migros Kulturprozent and Pro Helvetia.
Seminar in Avignon
Launched jointly by the Avignon festival and Pro Helvetia in 2013, the Séminaire en Avignon offers up-and-coming young stage practitioners a platform for in-depth exchange in both theoretical and practical fields. Young artists from several countries are selected and given the possibility of participating in an intensive week of discovery in connection with contemporary artistic expression at the festival in Avignon. The programme enables participants – accompanied by a coach – to watch and discuss a wide variety of performances, to meet professional theatre practitioners from Europe and beyond, and to take part in debates with artists, critics and specialists of the performing arts who are attending the festival.
A call for applications aimed at candidates from Switzerland is published at the beginning of the year on Pro Helvetia’s website. Eligible are theatre practitioners aged 35 or under who are professionally active on an ongoing basis in Switzerland, either at an institutionalised theatre or in the independent scene. Stage directors, actors, performers, stage designers and choreographers can apply provided they already have some experience in planning and implementing projects of their own. A good command of French is also required.
Dramenprozessor – a workshop for stage writing
Dramenprozessor (drama processor) was founded in 2001 and has since established itself as one of the most successful models for promoting authors in the German-speaking world. Some of the pieces by young Swiss playwrights it has produced have been translated into several languages and been premiered and restaged at various renowned theatres. In 2015, Dramenprozessor won the Federal Office of Culture’s Swiss Theatre Award.
As a workshop for stage writing, Dramenprozessor is aimed at authors living and/or working in Switzerland who are not yet established in the scene. They apply with a specific project they want to work on during the workshop year. For each of the bi-annually conducted workshops, four to five participants are selected and intensively coached during the entire writing and implementation process. At the end of Dramenprozessor, the texts are presented to the public at a mini-festival in the form of scenic productions. Some of the 42 Dramenprozessor graduates to date have since gained transregional acclaim.
The programme is located at Theater Winkelwiese in Zurich and is conducted in close cooperation with the co-producers Schlachthaus Theater Bern, Theater Chur, Stadttheater Schaffhausen, Theater Tuchlaube Aarau, Theater Rampe Stuttgart and Theater St. Gallen. Graduates are given opportunities to join up with production teams at these theatres and try out various forms of working in order to gain experience in theatre practice.
Besides the specialist guidance offered to the up-and-coming authors, the focus is on the long-term impact of their project. This involves help with networking in the national theatre scene as well as cooperation with independent production groups and with similar promotion models and partners in other European countries.
International Forum Berlin
The International Forum has been held annually since 1965 in connection with the Berliner Theatertreffen, the most important showcasing of work in German-speaking theatre. For two weeks, the Forum offers an international platform for intensive exchange on theoretical and practical issues. Attending productions shown at the Theatertreffen and discussions with artists and experts form key parts of the extensive programme, which also includes practical workshops conducted by renowned theatre makers, public panel discussions, excursions, events at the Theatertreffen camp and readings by young artists.
Eligible for participation at the International Forum are professional theatre practitioners aged 35 or under from all parts of the world. Applications can be submitted via the Forum’s three partner organisations, i.e. Berliner Festspiele for Germany and Austria, Pro Helvetia for Switzerland and Goethe Institut for all other countries. Young Swiss theatre practitioners from the fields of stage directing, acting, stage design, dramaturgy, performance, text, music, video or choreography who want to apply must be professionally active on an ongoing basis in Switzerland at an institutionalised theatre or in the independent scene, and must already have some experience in planning and implementing theatre projects of their own. Since most of the events are held in German, evidence of a good knowledge of German is also required.
«Kicks!» in Bern
Kicks! is a new initiative by Schlachthaus Theater Bern aimed at promoting interest in children’s and youth theatre among up-and-coming young theatre practitioners. Following a call for applications, four aspiring theatre groups are selected, each with the task of realising a theatre project for young audiences. Under the guidance of an experienced coach from the field of children’s and youth theatre, they create a production that is then presented at a festival to an audience of all ages. On the final festival weekend, at an event called «kicks! kompakt», all productions are once again shown to an audience of specialists.
TEXTES-en-SCÈNES, launched in 2004 by the Société Suisse des Auteurs (Swiss Society of Authors, SSA), Pro Helvetia and Migros Kulturprozent, is a promotional programme aimed at up-and-coming young Swiss authors of drama texts who write in French. The four candidates selected through a bi-annual competition are provided not only with financial support, but also with a mentor of their choice for one year and the opportunity to gain practical experience on the stages of the two theatres currently participating in the programme – Arsenic in Lausanne and Saint-Gervais in Geneva. The aim is to put the texts to the test in real-life theatre conditions, with the help of the guidance offered. At the end of the writing phase, a public presentation of the texts is held, after which one of the four projects is chosen for production and staging by the theatres involved.
Extra Time is a promotion and guidance programme initiated in 2015 by FAR° Festival des arts vivants. It supports projects of aspiring young Swiss artists from the stage arts as well as from other disciplines. Each participant benefits from guidance over several months by a specialist in the field of performing arts. The FAR° team provides mentoring, support in the production process and a place of residence for a defined period. Extra Time gives artists an opportunity to present their work to the public at the FAR° festival. This guarantees a high degree of visibility, not least thanks to the presence of Swiss and international event organisers, and the possibility of networking at this important stage in their career.