The Heidelberger Stückemarkt is a forum for contemporary German and international drama and innovative artistic approaches. Founded in 1984, the festival encourages new talents and promotes exchange between playwrights, theatre professionals and the audience in order to enable discourse on contemporary drama and new theatre aesthetics.
Annually the Heidelberger Stückemarkt presents an extensive program on ten days in spring, featuring world premieres of new plays from theatres and companies from the German-speaking countries as well as presentations of theatre plays which have not yet premiered. Since 2001 the festival has an annual focus country – like Greece, Finland, Mexico and Belgium in the past editions. The Heidelberger Stückemarkt gives an insight in the particular theatre scene, presents current productions, invites artists, playwrights and experts and introduces new pieces from the respective guest country. With this program the festival aims at being a platform also for international exchange on contemporary dramatic art.
Part of the festival is the »Autorenwettbewerb«, a competition for emerging playwrights. Publishing houses, universities as well as formerly nominated writers may submit new plays. Out of this pool six to seven German plays and around three plays from the respective guest country are selected by the festival team and presented in staged readings by the company of the Theater Heidelberg.
A jury of theatre professionals, journalists and playwrights awards the prices of the competition: The »AutorenPreis« (price for authors) endowed with 10000 € for the best play in German and the »Internationaler AutorenPreis« (price for international authors, 5000 €) for the best play from the respective guest country. Amongst all nominated playwrights the audience awards the »PublikumsPreis« (audience price, 2500 €) for their most favored play.
In 2011 the series »Nachgespielt« (»Replayed«) presenting second, third or fourth stagings of new German plays, was established in order to sustainably support playwrights. The best production is awarded the »NachSpielPreis«, consisting of an invitation to the »Autortheatertage« at Deutsches Theater Berlin.
Furthermore, the theatre for young people has its own focus within the festival. The German productions for young people that have been invited have been nominated since 2012 for the so called »JugendStückePreis« (price for youth theatre plays, 6000 €) and a subsequent invitation to the Mülheimer Theatertage NRW.