We* are many: we* are theater makers onstage and backstage, in state theaters and in independent theaters, in production, dramaturgy, performance, and direction. We* are white people and People of Color. We* have different socioeconomic backgrounds and different sexual orientations and identities. We* identify as intersectional feminists. Together we form the INITIATIVE FOR SOLIDARITY at the THEATER (ISaT).
ISaT is a Network to join together to unite in the battles that we*1 have to fight on a daily basis at work. For a theater space free from fear. With solidarity and with understanding for the different situations we* find ourselves in and the positions from which we* speak.
1On the first of December, 2017, 71 initial signatories were on our list.
A significant majority of artistic directors and director positions within city and state theaters in the German speaking world are still occupied by white, cis-gender and able-bodied men. Women*, queer people, people with disabilities and People of Color are underrepresented, especially in artistic leadership positions. Their work has been relocated to the independent scene, which is marked by economic insecurity and self-exploitation.
The main paradox of the German cultural scene is that contemporary exploitative processes are confronted artistically but are nevertheless reproduced within its structures. The problem of hierarchical and patriarchal theater persists: those responsible (generally male, white, and heterosexual) make decisions about which spaces are opened and to whom. Structural oppression in the theater: a never-ending story?
Our initiative gathers all of those who want to change this.
The network consists of theater makers onstage and backstage, in state theaters and in free theaters, in production, dramaturgy, performance, and direction. We* are white people and People of Color. We* have different socioeconomic backgrounds and different sexual orientations and identities. We* identify as intersectional feminists, who don’t only consider the power relations between “men” and “women,” but all groups who are marginalized by the system of patriarchy.
We* unite in order to stand up for more solidarity. Out of isolation and into an intersectional alliance – with the awareness that we* are comprised of many people who have been subjected to similar obstacles. We* want to concentrate on uniting different fights and to especially give a voice those who haven’t found an advocacy group in networks that already exist.
The network is open for all who can relate to our description of the theater system and who wish to join in solidarity with the network’s activities (no matter if you yourself feel marginalized).
We* want to enter in to a sensible, productive dialogue with policy makers and institutions and work together to create spaces in which racism, misogyny, sexism and discrimination of “non-conforming” bodies and identities are addressed and combated. We* are concerned with addressing subtle and unconscious forms of discrimination, which, despite critical consciousness and cultural education, can be found within the shared stories of theater-makers. A central concern is also to name and challenge the exploitative working conditions which are agreed to in the name of art.
We* want to build a network to ensure a higher presence of underrepresented and falsely represented people in the performing arts. Thereby we* especially want to bring together those with similar experiences, with regard to power structures in theatrical organizations. The starting point in founding ISaT was the realization that seemingly isolated incidents of uncomfortable situations at work were actually structural. The responses received through sharing experiences of oppression and marginalization, to not stand alone, can (re)strengthen self-confidence and introduce possibilities for action. Therefore, we first and foremost want to bring theater makers together and create spaces to speak with each other. We want to counteract isolation and make structural (suppression) mechanisms as such – and not as individual workers – recognizable and tangible.
We* want to achieve these goals through various events. For us, the aspect of decentralization is important. The network meetings should take place in different places in all areas of the German-language theater (keyword: the solidarity comes to you!). By building up a transregional network, we* want to take inventory and collect as many different testimonials of structural violence in theater in order to identify opportunities for action. Alongside this, we* want to create a website where possibilities for networking and exchange, regardless of location, can occur. Furthermore we* want to work with mentors and mediators who can be contacted through meetings and via the website.
In future stages, we* want to develop and offer workshops – in person and as webinars – on the topics of empowerment and alternative working structures, both as stand-alone events and within the context of festivals and other occasions.
In addition, we* want to establish contact with institutions and theater-leaders, as well as with political decision makers. Together we will work on concrete possibilities for implementation. In addition to this, we* want to offer strategic coaching to (theater) institutions.
"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives."