When our colleagues from the UK and Ireland invented “On the Edge” as a motto for the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in Birmingham, their idea was to create openness, initiate experiments, inspire new approaches and question the things we may feel quite sure about. In just a few weeks’ time, we’ll have the opportunity to experience a programme full of ideas that are presented on stages and podiums, in talks and workshops and we are looking forward to it.
At the same time millions of people all over the world are fleeing from war and hunger, right wing politics have – again – become popular all over Europe, anonymous capitalism seems to reign in economics …, and “On the Edge” may have become much more than just a festival motto stimulating artistic exchange across borders. Today, people in Europe feel much closer to the edges of the world they used to know and they experience that Eurocentrism needs to be questioned in many ways.
Theater artists in Germany and elsewhere are asked to take position. At the same time people, audience and artists alike, may have a feeling of not knowing where to start, what is important, what is secondary and how can we work together to create a world where human rights and democracy, tolerance and respect are possible, where wealth is shared and freedom of speech valued and defended? Let us share ideas! Let us talk about serious issues in the inspiring atmosphere of our “encounters”!
This is not the time for simple answers. It is a time full of complicated discussions about complex issues and the arts and artists cannot withdraw themselves. It is in the arts and in theatre where utopia can flourish, where complexity can become inspiration, where perspectives can be changed, where new world orders can be staged and tested. It is our task to encourage and enable people to ask questions, work together and to dare to give new answers. Being “On the Edge” is an opportunity, but also a responsibility. In TYA we can learn from each other and we can learn from others who have been “On the Edge” before, who have found new ways not only to create theatre, but also to create society. Worldwide.
By Stefan Fischer-Fels