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Website: What Can Theatre Do?

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DAS Theatre Research Labs 2020 & 2021: What Can Theatre Do?

What can or should art education do in a moment when society is shaken by an unprecedented combination of political, economic and sanitary crises, also affecting the artistic field to a point that it is impossible to foresee how it can operate and develop?

In response to these questions, DAS Theatre presents 'What Can Theatre Do?', a series of Research Labs meant as a queer deviation from the norm of DAS Theatre's curriculum. The Labs are open to encounters, and documented to become available for others in forms such as public lectures and conversations, sharing and open workshops. Join the public (online) events and explore what theatre can do on

Why 'What Can Theatre Do?'

'What Can Theatre Do?' We posed this question to ourselves and our own DAS Theatre programme, and decided upon two principles to inform our current year, and our vision. 

We are to be honest with reality and acknowledge that the storm we are all in is in the first place not the same storm for everyone, on the contrary it is enlightening structural inequalities that we as artists, curators, intellectuals and educators have the duty to fight.

This storm is also a chance of questioning in depth our own work and the professional field that we are part of, which since a long time we know being ruled by the same inequalities that we see operating in society at large. This moment is calling for a change, and schools are to embrace it and enhance it.

Within the local and (inter)national artistic field, art schools have the great chance of being sites for learning and unlearning.

Schools are sites for questioning, for exploring alternative paths and for working together in an environment that is meant to be collaborative and communal. Schools are support structure that are not oriented towards artistic production nor towards the curation of an encounter between artworks, audiences and collectivities.

What schools can do, we believe, is to offer the artistic field their particular space, a space before so to say, as a generative and needed space within the ecology of the arts, where things can be tried out, manners of working can be tested and a politicality of the arts can be explored, in a porous and permeable relation to the artistic, and also to the social world.

Theatre and theatre schools, in particular, are affected by the current crisis even more than the other art forms, and yet the theatre has a special way of rehearsing and prefiguring possible futures, that a theatre school should acknowledge and enhance.

About 'What Can Theatre Do?'

reckoning, repairing, reimagining

What Can Theatre Do is at the same time the curation of an educational gesture, and of a collective artistic research. It unfolds in the exploration of this question during five weeks in the Fall semester and four weeks in the Spring semester of DAS Theatre, focussing on three concrete actions: reckoningrepairingreimagining.

By focussing on what theatre can do, we aim to acknowledge theatre as a complex apparatus, operating within the realms of reality and fiction and creating conditions for the political to occur. The doing of theatre has nothing to do with its impact on society or cultural value; it is the aesthetic experience in its disruptive and idiosyncratic appearances that we trust and insist upon.

At the moment when theatre cannot even really exist, we take this opportunity and interrogate what it can do, immersing ourselves in doing, with Labs that bring people together to do in order to figure things out

By making our research revolve around the three actions of reckoningrepairing and reimagining, we aim to explore how theatre can reckon with the present time as an historical moment; how it can repair it and thus engage with its uncertainties; how it can reimagine the future, speculate and enact alternative ones.

Spring Research Labs | 22 February-5 March

My Documents is a lecture performance workshop where artists present personal research, a radical experience, a story that secretly obsesses them. My Documents has a minimal format: artists with their documents. A way of bringing to light the kind of research that often gets lost in a nameless folder on a computer.

Please note: there has been a change to the programme, and the planned Open Lab on 27th February will now be an internal presentation for the DAS Community.

Find out more about Lola Arias here.

The Medium is the Medium takes its name from one of the earliest examples of the collaboration between public television and video art. Understanding that we are completely saturated by mass ‘mediums’ nowadays, we are proposing to rediscover TV as a meeting place between artists and (live) audiences. An open (theatre) space which welcomes works of different natures and durations, centered on their live aspect.

Open Lab: Friday 5th March 17:00-19:00 CET.
Join the lab:

nyamnyam is Iñaki Alvarez and Ariadna Rodríguez. Discover more about their work here.

Previous labs:

October Research Labs | 5-23 October

Reckon – What Happened?

What are we facing, what is the present as a historical moment? How has it been produced, historically, politically, culturally? How can theatre and performance be ways of reckoning with it?

Guests for this lab include Rabih Mroué, Ogutu Muraya, Lara Staal, Maarten van Hinte, Quinsy Gario, Jerry Afriyie, as well as encounters during the Afrovibes Festival, moderated by Marjorie Boston 

Repair – What Now?

If this is our present time, how can we act? How do we understand our living together, between humans and with other than human entities? How can theatre and performance offer forms, ways of thinking and ethics, to navigate the present moment as an uncertain, opaque time?

Guests for this lab include Eleonora Fabião, Piersandra Di Matteo, Ivo Dimchev and Lotte van den Berg 

Reimagine – What If?

What about the future? What human and technological practices do we have to explore possible futures? How can theatre and performance offer forms of speculation about possible futures, forms of collective and radical imagination, to rehearse a future of which we do not have an image yet?

Guests for this lab include Annie Dorsen, Mala Kline, Kee Hong Low,  Samara Hersch

Each of the three artistic research lab trajectories that run parallel at the studios of DAS as well as online have their own separate program, but are in continuous interaction and exchange with each other. The invited artists and curators together with DAS theatre participants form a temporary collective of performing arts practitioners, actively probing the question: What can theatre do? They are joined by an interested public who can follow the programme online through various open door events. 

November Research Labs | 2-13 November

'DAS TALKS' hosts a series of online public conversations with Dutch and international professionals working in theatre institutions and networks. Together, questions surrounding the current performance field crisis as well as the institutions' response to the corona impact will be explored:

What happened to programs, concepts, artists, frames, and networks? How are they adapting and with what future in mind (knowing we cannot predict or control what will come)? What structural inequalities have been highlighted by the pandemic?

More info & programme: Click here

Currently, the consciousness of spaces becoming potential risks has been pushed to the fore. Any encounter: contamination. How to inhabit and renegotiate spaces if access to them has never been so precarious? How to leave traces if traces are everything but welcome?

In this lab, DAS Theatre participants and theatre maker Boukje Schweigman embark on the question of re-calibrating the imaginative access to their artistic research. Schweigman’s practice is fundamentally rooted in navigating through physical and sensory spaces with the main compass we have for this endeavor: the body.

More info & programme: Click here

Part of an ongoing speculative institute, this lab explores the relationship between imagination and uncertainty for fostering artistic responses; The futures that we often imagine in our impassioned discourses but never find the energy to act out will be rehearsed.

What options do we have as artists to relate to this reality in creative ways - and what tools can we develop to imagine beyond it. If we choose to wait, and deepen into our own imagination, what are our responsibilities to those that cannot afford to do so?

More info & programme: Click here


  • DAS Theatre 1st year participants: Carolina Bianchi, Ebana Garin, Luis Guenel, Ainhoa Hernández Escudero, Venuri Perera, Claudio Rietfeld, Agat Sarma.
  • DAS Theatre 2nd year participants: Asa Horvitz, Tom Oliver Jacobson, Juan Miranda, Mazlum Nergiz, Andrej Nosov, Mariana Senne, Eli Steffen, Pankaj Tiwari.
  • October Labs: Jerry Afriyie, Ivo Dimchev, Annie Dorsen, Piersandra Di Matteo, Eleonora Fabião, Quincy Gario, Samara Hersch, Mla Kline, Kee Hong Low, Rabih Mroué, Ogutu Muraya, Lotte van den Berg, Maarten van Hinte

The programme of the October labs is curated by DAS Theatre artistic director Silvia Bottiroli and theatre maker and DAS Theatre tutor Edit Kaldor, in conversation with the Educational Team and Educational Platform of DAS Theatre: student counsellor Juul Beeren, production coordinator Maaike Boot and programme coordinator John Meijerink (Educational Team), and theatre maker and curator Marjorie Boston, choreographer Andrea Božić, dramaturg Miguel Angel Melgares and curator Lara Staal (Educational platform). 

The programme of the November lab is curated by the 2nd year participants (Asa Horvitz, Tom Oliver Jacobson, Juan Miranda, Mazlum Nergiz, Andrej Nosov, Mariana Senne, Eli Steffen, Pankaj Tiwari) mentored by the Educational Team, as their “Contextual” collective assignment.


Website: What Can Theatre Do?

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