While we believe that art cannot be taught, we feel that encounters do have a learning potential that can be empowered by a supportive environment. Besides being exposed to a diverse peer group, DAS Theatre participants receive input from guest teachers and block mentors, benefit from discussions with tutors and the DAS team, invite individual advisors to follow their process, go on field trips that can enlarge and enhance their professional network and are supported by team coaching.
Since we are addressing professional artists and curators, the curriculum is designed to create room for integrating limited professional activities. Each student takes responsibility for negotiating her or his priorities in consultation with the school’s educational platform, comprised of the artistic director, a student counsellor and six tutors, all of whom are professional artists or curators active in the Dutch and international field.
One programme, two profiles
People in the performing arts are searching for ways to develop and articulate new vocabularies, experiment with interdisciplinary processes (including outside the field of the performing arts), radically rethink artistic institutions, address and question current power relations and engage new and diverse audiences within experimental practices. Collaboration between artists and curators and the active involvement of all the other professional figures that revolve around the performing arts (technicians, producers, etc.) are necessary conditions for facing these challenges. We believe that by educating artists and curators side by side, a school can provide the groundwork for new forms of collaboration, deeper mutual understanding and a broadening of the horizons of both.
DAS Theatre is open both to makers and curators in the field of the performing arts, with an average distribution of 80% makers and 20% curators. Students from both backgrounds are asked to define their goals and adopt appropriate methods for research in order to expand and deepen their practice.
Making theatre in a changing world
Nowadays theatre makers are accustomed to combining a variety of registers, moving and mobilizing audiences in many ways, inventing new tools and formats, setting up collaborations, creating new platforms and engaging in conversations with theoreticians and other professionals. Contemporary performing arts productions can be presented as stage shows, unusually lengthy performances, workshops, rituals, lectures, walks, gatherings in public space, etc. Both the position of the artist and of the spectator are deeply questioned: if the mind of the spectator becomes the ‘definitive stage’, the work also becomes a site of negotiating responsibilities; authorship is either claimed or dissolves into a plurality of voices, and the political value of theatre emerges with renewed urgency.
In a world that is changing dizzily and becoming more and more complex, theatre is a place where complexity can be preserved – represented, contemplated, embodied –; where diversity can be acknowledged and nurtured; and where a plurality of voices can be heard in its multiplicity. Claiming an essential relation between theatre and the world, we intend to support artists as they create and explore their own worlds, and invite them to assume the responsibility of listening to each other, staying open to what is different and far away, while questioning the notions of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’.
Expanded curation in the performing arts
In recent times, curatorial practices have gained a lot of attention in the performing arts field. The discourse about curation is still very fresh, and is articulating around some concepts that deeply question the responsibility of curators beyond the institutional function of the artistic director or programme maker. In particular, on one side we are witnessing the emergence of a new definition of the dramaturg and the dramaturgical function, both within artistic processes and art institutions; and on the other, curation as a performative function is being explored in relation to the political realm, redefining the curator’s responsibilities not only in relation to engaging new audiences, but also within society at large.
Focusing on ‘expanded curation’, we intend to claim a space for curating as a constellational activity, which goes way beyond the traditional division between the artistic work and the contextual programme and includes a concern for how things are made public, for new modes of curating encounters and establishing multiple relations.