The Theatre of the Anthropocene is conceived around the fundamental conflict “Man and Nature in the Anthropocene” and aims to contribute to an intensive cooperation and networking of artists, scientists, designers and civil society by means of the stage and urban interventions. The concept is based on Humboldt’s idea that only an intact bond between man and nature, tied by knowledge and experience, empathy and emotion, can be the basis of a sustainable civilization. The declared aim is to combine these different elements on interwoven aesthetic and discursive levels by creating events in which the function and fragility of our ecosphere, our interaction with it, and the consequences of our actions can be experienced and felt.
On stage, anthropocene issues such as emissions and the atmosphere, ocean acidification and the loss of biodiversity are theatrically exposed, as are questions of law and justice, animal and natural rights. The target audience is not only the general public, special formats also introduce children and young people to the current debate on climate and species protection in a sensitive and vivid way.
The Theatre of the Anthropocene is an integral part of the great transformation that is necessary to build an ecologically sustainable society. The development and practice of “cultural techniques of change” takes place both in the symbolic contexts of the stage and in the landscapes of everyday urban life. The empathic and systemic view generated at the interface of art and science is coupled with the manifold possibilities of theatre as well as with urban expeditions and initiatives of the society.
The Theatre of the Anthropocene applies Humboldt’s understanding of a nature-related, systemic and empathic science and culture to our present day, where we urgently need to learn to understand the bonds between man, nature and the Earth system and to incorporate them into our actions. It is the prototype of a stage that meets the challenges of a moving nature which claims it’s right to be heard. With the Anthropocene our relationship to nature has shifted irreversibly, for local activities now have global effects, and global developments are causing threatening changes for the regional climate and local biodiversity. Rapid climate change, the irreversible loss of biodiversity and habitats are threatening the well-being of all human beings, without there having been any adequate management of limited resources to date.
There is no scientific doubt that today’s generations in particular are more than ever responsible for the life and environment of future generations. With this in mind, theatre can make a decisive contribution to the revision of the current value system by connecting the actions of today’s people to the life chances of future generations. In order to stop the waste of natural resources and the resulting threats to the well-being of all people, a fundamental change in paradigm, a complex web of decisions and operations in all political, social and economic sectors is necessary, for current orientations, such as permanent availability, permanent growth, infinite enrichment, limitless consumption, are in direct conflict with the essential value of a rich and diverse nature, which safeguards the diversity of species and preserves their different habitats.
Traditionally, theatre and its various forms are predestined like no other artistic medium to test a fundamental change in prevailing social standards and to put it up for discussion. It serves as an aesthetic forum to present problems and conflicts, to negotiate solutions in play, and to establish controversies in urban society and the public.
Performances, readings, accompanying discourses, and transdisciplinary initiatives create an aesthetic skin that sensitizes us to the changing earth system, its landscapes, and its vulnerable ecosphere at the level of art and culture. This implies course-settings that also contribute to democracy by anticipating the co-creation of a sustainable approach to nature. The stage concept is complemented by a cultural laboratory, which explores the landscape of Berlin and Brandenburg from cultural, geological and topographical perspectives by means of urban interventions and expeditions.
The projects of the Theatre of the Anthropocene, based on interlinked scientific and artistic approaches, make it insightful and, in the sense of Humboldt’s idea of nature as an overall context, emotionally perceptible that the fates of human beings are inextricably linked with those of animals, plants, waters and oceans, the atmosphere and ecological systems. This participatory theatre of the 21st century in the heart of Berlin under the umbrella of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is an invitation to develop a globally networked, aesthetic and scientific, ecological-anthropocene as well as theatrical focal point.
The concept is characterized by openness, which also means that we are happy to take up suggestions on topics, events and actors and are in general very interested in possibilities for cooperation and networking with actors from both science and art. Since the paths into this new age are still largely untrodden, this is an appeal to curiosity as well as to the joy of jointly developing perspectives that have been little explored. These are – in the emphatic sense – expeditions into the unknown.