Representation and Participation of the City (Theater). A Polyphonic Chorus of Glocal Issues in URBAN PRAYERS (2013)

Monique EHMANN


In times of globalization and migration cities are impacted by an enormous diversity and heterogeneity. They are places where people of the most different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds come together to share a confined living space. A lack of awareness and simple ignorance often lead to prejudices and conflicts so that integration is conceived as one of the biggest and most important political and social challenges of our times. In the last couple of years city theaters in German-speaking countries have gradually started to become engaged in social issues and question more and more their own function and role concerning modern city life. Theaters expanded their usual repertoire by adding new topics, forms and spaces to deal with the urban and social realities of their (particular) city. They no longer only keep up the literary tradition or an imitation of reality. By communicating and cooperating with the other arts, people or institutions of urban life, new ways of intensifying the relation between theater and the city have been found. This paper will discuss whether theater, both as institution and as art form, can enable meaningful contacts and encounters in urban spaces. Starting from the unique situation in German-speaking countries and its theater landscape I will show how (city) theater can get involved in urban affairs and in this way become a conducive part to urban cohabitation. To reflect on this issue, the urban space project URBAN PRAYERS (2013) by the theater house Münchner Kammerspiele in Munich will be examined.

Keywords: City theatre, Encounter, Globalization, Glocalisation, Integration, Migration, Participation, Religion, Representation