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Winterwerft is the festival for wild, organic theater. For theater at the end of the world as we know it. For theater that dares to look fearlessly, curiously and inquiringly into the abysses of this time. Even before the search for concrete answers, the Winterwerft is a place where a change of perspective is to be dared through critical, creative questioning. There is room here for all the approaches from theater, dance, music, poetry, painting and sculpture that change pace, that dare to step into the undergrowth and throw stones into the rushing stream of anthropocentrism.


The last Winterwerft collaboratorium was dedicated to the idea of collapse. To the collapse and the abyss, to which we can close our eyes less and less – as a civilization, as humanity and as individuals.

Our family members are scattered around the world, we do not know our neighbors. We do not know who produced our clothes and food, what they are made of, nor where they come from. We don’t know who and what we work for. We live detached from concrete landscapes and places and call it flexibility. We assign ourselves to wage labor institutions and call it breadwinning. We live non-lived lives in front of screens. And meanwhile we watch the world burn.

More and more we have become caught up in the assumption that man as the meaning and crown of creation is somehow detached and removed from the family of the living. Man as a thinking being stands before and above a supposedly inanimate nature, relieved of its laws and enabled and authorized to extract the resources of this dead world, to exploit them, to make them his own and to use them.

But this view of the world, the story that has brought us to the place where we are standing, is slowly becoming fragile. In scenes of droughts, floods, burning forests, garbage dumps and the carcasses of animals, it is showing cracks and holes. Asked about the future, hardly anyone today believes that everything will go well. Those who were born early enough anesthetize the gnawing fear with the fact that they will not experience the worst effects of the trouble to come. Meanwhile, the younger generation shouts out their rage.

How do we locate ourselves in this situation, and what responsibility do we bear as creators of culture, as storytellers in these times of unrest and collapse? Should we be waving our brushes to paint pictures of a radiant future, as we encounter them today only as stale imitations in advertising or in the droning words of Elon Musk? Truly utopian images of transformation and new beginnings seem more illusory than ever in these times of environmental destruction, climate catastrophe and social dislocation. And yet the current situation also holds tremendous potential for change.

Gazing toward the future won’t get us any further. And maybe that’s also not what we want: “further”.

But what if for once we lowered our gaze before the great crises of our time and arrived back in the present? If we looked down to the ground and started to perceive again the space in which we live? What if we got down on our knees, put our hands in the earth and felt for the roots for which we had lost our sensitivity many centuries ago? For the fine connections and networks in which we, as part of this earth, are bound, entangled and enmeshed, no matter how much effort we put into tearing them apart?

Intertwined and interwoven

With the theme ENTANGLED we want to dare with the Winterwerft 2022 to put the crown of creation down in the grass next to us and try to see ourselves as an intimately interwoven part of this multidimensional, species- and generation-spanning network of life. Instead of independence and superiority, let interdependence and vulnerability in. Integrate, not separate.

The fact that we are connected and interwoven in the innermost and most intimate way – far beyond the boundaries of species, tribe, family, species or generations – is being brought home to us more and more today by science. Trees, for example, communicate with each other through their roots and with the help of fungal structures – they take care of each other, provide each other with nutrients and information.

For ourselves, Covid, the pandemic, has made exceedingly clear how much our interconnectedness and interwovenness brings also vulnerability: Because somewhere people are intruding into precious wildlife habitats, trapping rare and strange species, caging them, and selling, processing, and exploiting them in crowded spaces, a global threat is emerging that has shaped our lives for nearly two years now. It shows that we haven’t understood anything about proximity – but also that our crisis is not just a biological one, but also a cultural one. It shows how scarce space on this planet is becoming, how much and how mercilessly we are encroaching on fragile habitats and contexts. 60% of wild animals have disappeared in the past 50 years. They have been slaughtered, hunted, shot, their livelihoods, landscapes and ecosystems destroyed and exploited by homo economicus.

Where to?

It is time to pause and listen, and we want to take this time with the Winterwerft. Stumbling, tender, wild and fierce, we will try to give voice and shape to that and to those who otherwise often remain unheard, precisely because they are unable to speak with a human voice. Landscapes, rivers, beehives, ant hills, ghosts, ancestors, trolls and forest spirits.

We want to withdraw, to de-civilize, to de-anthropocentrize ourselves. De-colonize our history and stories, bodies and thoughts.

We understand the world through the stories we tell ourselves. In the strife and storm for a humane, kind, livable future on this planet, perhaps with the tools of theater and dance, of music and poetry, we can salvage the puzzle pieces and fragments of new and old stories, myths, dances to which we can connect. That allow new perspectives on Homo Sapiens in the circle of his fellow beings and thus might also attach new radical and unexpected aspects to concepts such as sustainability, resilience or community.

It is here, as storytellers, as creators of culture, that we see our role, our task, and our responsibility. Join us, get in the circle – we need each and every one.

Winterwerft is the festival for wild, organic, uncivilised theatre. Theatre that changes perspective and pace, that looks fearlessly into the abysses of these times and goes in search of visions with the means of critical creative debate.

What remains when we stop pretending everything is going well?

We invite all of you; the storytellers and dancers, shamans, brahmins and visionaries, street children, city pirates, forest gnomes and spirit mediums. Those who write poetry, those who play, those who see light and those who see dark. We’ll embark on a search for stories and perspectives that presumably or genuinely, will help us to better understand these wild times. We are stoking the fire and extend an invitation for you to come and take a look into the flames with us and to dare to look into the abyss and lay an ear right against the belly of our rumbling earth.

The Winterweft looks for and creates spaces for critical creative engagement as we face the crises and challenges of our time. In particular, predominant narratives, such as the idea of infinite growth or the superiority and detachment of humankind – with all it’s consequences and traces, from and in culture, nature, philosophy and economy – both should and may be questioned and examined. The focus lies on shifting perspectives and researching alternative, regenerative ways of looking at things.

Unconventional and transdisciplinary approaches in theater and performance will be presented to allow the creative examination of acute challenges, ecological, political, social, to unfold. The main subject is the quality of our cultural narratives and the influence they have on the way we see ourselves as human beings in the context of nature. More specifically, to question and explore the narrative of us as embedded and dependent beings of the nature surrounding us and to test this trough different experimental models based of regenerative, sustainable culture – such as nature connection.

From Thursday to Sunday, starting at 17:00, and on weekends starting at 15:00, the Winterwerft invites all of you to engage in readings, discussions, lectures and workshops concerning our forests, the wind of change, the forces of nature, catastrophe and culture, and of course, a very peculiar species withing the nature kingdom – the human being. During the evening, visitors can expect a top-class program, as well as each morning and on Sundays a special kids’ program, and of course a wide range of workshops during the week, while the Yurte will host conversations, concerts, and readings. Food and refreshments will be available at all times at the bar and at the Babushka Café.

Side Thoughts:

A place by the fire. Narratives we tell ourselves and the underlying responsibility that derives from them.

A place by the fire is also the theater stage. The ritual of sitting together in a circle while listening and telling stories has existed and shaped culture since the earliest days of mankind. It is indeed birthplace of ritual, of dance and of song.

The winter season is particularly inviting to summon up this image. Nights are long and dark, allowing the line between us and other worlds to become thinner so we can dare to take a glance. This is essential for the Winterwerft. Theater requires a space that enables the mind to go beyond these boundaries.

A handful of these stories drive our modern society since we successfully internalized it’s narratives. As an example, consider the story of “growth and progress”: keep in mind this story includes multiple variables such as religion, economics, mysticism, and science. With the common denominator being the assumption that we as humankind have overcome nature and our animal roots; that we are capable of conquering and mastering Nature, to which we no longer belong, and that this achievement will bring us prosperity and infinite growth. It is the story of human centrosyncrasy, which exists above and beyond the limitations and necessities of all other species. And what makes this storyline even more dangerous, is the fact that people have forgotten that this is, in fact, just a story. A story that that we told to ourselves so many times, that we began to believe it, till the point that our society is now convinced that it is the only true story, the only possible story.

But by following this narrative of unlimited growth and endless exploitation of finite resources, more and more questions arise about the morality and sustainability of this story. But this story appears now to be reaching the limits of its credibility. The obvious dangers and consequences are now reaching the midst of our society. Agitation, concern and uncertainty are spreading. But there are also many other places where ideas, visions and solutions are being sought with a great deal of creativity and commitment. There is an enormous amount of potential to turn this around and make a positive change in our world. The Winterwerft is a theater and cultural festival that consciously embraces the role of the artist as a storyteller, by not only creating a space on stage for the expression of criticism, grief, and uncertainty, but also by exploring the possibilities for action in a collaborative creative process.

The Winterwerft, seeks to create a space where reflection and exploration can thrive. Is there a different story? A story told from a different angle and perspective, away from that of our own and our society? The Winterwerft provides a space to listen to these stories told through the means of theater, physical theater, dance. But also along classical storytellers, scientists, researchers, musicians and poets.

Step up

Long time ago, as the first anthropoid ape got up in two feet, sowhere in the African savannah and decided to step away from the shelter provided by trees, it was hard to imagine where this one step would lead us.

Some may even claim that this is when it all began, the Anthropocene, the rule of the bipeds. Step by step, in the truest sense of the word, the earliest ancestors of Homo Sapiens ventured out of the undergrowth of world history – initially on the run. A lot speaks for the fact that at that time we served largely as cat food – but by the time we learned to tame fire, at the latest, the tables turned and the hunted monkey became the hunter, perhaps the most deadly hunter in history.

At the same time, it is astonishing that we were successful in the first place.
It was simply our ability to sweat, which enabled us to walk for long periods of time despite the heat, so we could literally run large animals to death, cause then, just before heat exhaustion, a well-aimed shot of a spear did the trick – Even until the 1970s, the San hunted this way for the most part. If you ever witnessed the hordes of joggers running by the Main riverbank, keep this picture in mind. We became big runners.

Furthermore, the imitation of animals and their typical movements used for communication, after and during the hunt, probably played a substantial role in the development of dances, rituals and even rhythm.

There are many other interesting details and facts about the history of mankind to talk about – undoubtedly – but this should not get out of hand here. Although, these details should be helpful in the process of de-articulation.

Because if at the Winterwerft we would only be concerned with where we stand at the moment as mankind – then we would be taking ourselves as humans, in our superiority, our isolation and our role as masters as way too important. Instead we can embrace this details as apportunities to look at things from a different perspective and broaden our horizon: In length, width, height and pace. Ultimately, it seems that we are not even that far away from our closest relatives – not yet.

We even share more genetic material with earthworms and mayflies than we would like to admit. And on the subject of isolation: the number of microbes and bacilli alone, which are essential for our survival and keep our body’s systems functioning, run into the thousands. technically, we wouldn’t be alone. At all.

So what induces this brute arrogance with which we are plundering and destroying more and more ecosystems? Or to such uncertainty that we do not prevent it?

We do not want to join the ranks of the cultural pessimists, but we also do not want to shy away from uncomfortable questions. This text alone is teeming with generalizations, which are of course dangerous: there is talk of “us” and “mankind” – yet certainly it was not always all mankind that thought to be reasonable against all reason, and thought to act humanly against all humanity. There have always been exceptions of people and communities who have managed to exist more or less sustainably and more or less peacefully with the environment. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of them anymore….

So what can, may and should culture do? Once again, deliberately and without generalization, the purpose of the Winterwerft is – to ask questions.

It is certainly a festival that seeks to raise far more questions than we will be able to find answers to. In particular, we want to be wary of easy answers, the much-loved all-too-easy ones.

Watching, listening, being analog, being here, being together. This is at least part of our proposal to address our cultural role. Also listening, taking in, and not forgetting how to smile. Remembering.

Our ability to change says a great deal about our capacity for empathy. Without claiming that we will ever be able to understand another sentient being, an animal for example, in it’s entirety, we can definetly try to persuit deeper connections than just food and consumer – and this, this teaches us memory, over many millennia. Venture to step away and step up. But also crawl, roll, jump, sneak – or just remain seated for a while. Changing the range of vision, exploring the depth of generations.

We’re not a political party and we do not follow a political agenda. We can – and must – allow ourselves to make mistakes, as well as to propose and reject daring ideas and thesis. At the end of the day, we are always allowed to push forward our artistic freedom. We are curious and concerned – and as a matter of fact, we also ask ourselves, how are we going to explain this or that to our children …

Already a good dozen helpers and friends from all over the world have gathered here. Our wingspan stretches from Chile to Malaysia. People who didn’t know each other over a week ago, are now building yurts together, setting up a whole theater, working hard and fooling around.

No easy answers.

Julian Böhme (protagon e. V.)