A Sign For The Future

This year, for the first time, Festival Theaterformen is focusing on the culture of Deaf* people, who bring exciting artistic impulses to the use of language, body, new technologies and community. As guest curator, Rita Mazza presents performances by Chisato Minamimura (Scored in Silence), Anna Seymour (SPIN) and Daniel Kotowski (Feeler), who experiment with sign languages and visual communication. Under the motto MAKING WAVES, the British collective The DisOrdinary Architecture Project is designing the festival centre on Prinzenstraße according to the principles of "Deaf Space". Ten artists from across Europe will conduct research in a one-week Sign Language Art Laboratory and provide insights into the diverse artistic forms of sign languages. And a workshop empowers Deaf young people to experience the theatre as a place where they are welcome and to make their first playful experiences there.

As a barrier-free offer, a performance of ZER-BRECH-LICH will be translated into DGS by Deaf and hearing interpreters. The talk with the architecture collective The DisOrdinary Architecture Project and the follow-up talk with the artist Chisato Minamimura will be translated into spoken language by Deaf and hearing interpreters. DGS To Go will be offered in the festival centre and before and after the performances of Deaf artists to facilitate exchange. 

Deaf people belong to a linguistic and cultural minority. Their culture is strongly visual and tactile and is characterised by a strong sense of community. Especially in theatre and dance, but also in architecture, Deaf culture can unfold its creative power and develop new forms of languages. For the first time, we are placing Deaf culture at the centre of an international theatre festival. This also requires a rethinking: because deficit thinking is still predominant, which focuses on the loss of the sense of hearing in a hearing-dominated world. Deaf scholars counter this with the concept of "Deaf Gain", according to which both Deaf people and society can benefit from the existence of Deaf culture and sign languages.

To implement this focus appropriately, we are also addressing this issue at the level of our working structure. We work with Rita Mazza as curator for sign (language) performances and have developed the programme in a joint dialogue. Mazza is a freelance choreographer and curates, among other things, the Festival Del Silencio in Milan. Xenia Dürr advises us on audism-critical** approaches and gives sensitivity workshops for the festival team, box office and admission staff as well as for the technical staff. In addition, we have expanded our festival team with two Deaf staff members. To prepare us for these diverse collaborations, some people of the team have completed an A1 DGS course.


* Deaf is a positive self-designation of non-hearing people, regardless of whether they are deaf, partially Deaf or hard of hearing. More information via the following link: Diversity Arts Culture

** Audism means that Deaf people are marginalised or excluded. For more information, click on the following link: Diversity Arts Culture


A Sign For The Future is funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation, supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Supported by the Klosterkammer Hannover.