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Welttag des Theaters / Theater für die Demokratie

Photo: Susanne Reichardt

Am 27. März 2024, dem Welttag des Theaters, veröffentlichen wir auf unseren Social-Media-Kanälen ein Video, in dem Mitarbeiter*innen des Theaters und Orchesters Heidelberg vielstimmig ihre Perspektiven für ein Theater für die Demokratie vertreten.

Zahlreiche Produktionen, Formate und Aktionen des Spielplans widmen sich Tag für Tag der Aufgabe, das Theater und Orchester Heidelberg als Ort der gelebten Demokratie zu öffnen. Insbesondere ist das mit »zwinger x« eine künstlerische Sparte, die sich diskriminierungssensibel und in Kooperation mit Akteur*innen der Stadt mit lokalen Themen auseinandersetzt und diverse Perspektiven auf unsere Gesellschaft von morgen sucht – in Begegnung, im Diskurs, im Experiment. Das Theater und Orchester Heidelberg ist zudem aktiver Partner im lokalen Bündnis »Kein Schritt nach rechts« und unterstützt in diesem Zuge Montagslesungen, die ab April 2024 wöchentlich Stimmen gegen rechts laut werden lassen. Am 23. Januar 2024 lasen Theatermitarbeiter*innen aller Sparten gemeinsam die vollständige Correctiv-Recherche »Geheimplan gegen Deutschland«.

Das Theater und Orchester Heidelberg beschäftigt Mitarbeiter*innen verschiedenster Nationalitäten: Alleine im Musiktheaterensemble und im Opernchor arbeiten Menschen aus 17 Ländern miteinander. Seit 2022 sind neben Hausautorin Oksana Savchenko und Schauspielerin Vladlena Sviatash auch zahlreiche ukrainische Kolleg*innen fest engagiert.

Produktionen wie die Auftragswerke »Golo/Nackt« von Maša Seničič und Komponistin Kathrin A. Denner oder »Meine Hölle« von Oksana Savchenko, »Herkunft« nach Saša Stanišić, die Opernausgrabung »Die heilige Ente« des von den Nationalsozialisten verfemten Komponisten Hans Gál, »Antigone« als partizipatives Theater für Junges Publikum oder die spartenübergreifende Produktion »Zusammenstoß« von Kurt Schwitters und Ludger Vollmer, in der sich Musiktheater, Tanz, Orchester, Schauspiel und Junges Theater begegnen, verankern die Auseinandersetzung mit einer vielfältigen, offenen Gesellschaft im Spielplan.

Diskursformate, Vermittlung, Dialog – in allen Sparten und mit voller Energie versteht sich das Theater und Orchester Heidelberg als Theater für die Demokratie!

Das Theater und Orchester Heidelberg

Photo: waechter + waechter Architekten

Heidelberg’s theatre building, the Theater Heidelberg, dates back to 1853 and was extended and reconstructed several times. In 2012, the completely refurbished building – now offering a large new hall – was reopened with festivities in honour of the occasion. However, the new Marguerre-Saal, offering seats for 500 viewers, is not the only stage for the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg; they play on different stages from Alter Saal to Zwinger 1 and 3 as well as external venues in the city area. The theatre employs 350 permanent staff and almost the same number of regularly appearing artists in residence in the divisions music theatre, theatre, dance and concerts as well as children and youth theatre.

Holger Schultze has held the post as artistic director of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg since the season of 2011/12. The theatre’s profile is characterised by its great commitment to contemporary drama, international cooperation as well as guest performances and festivals across categories. With Holger Schultze as director, the theatre is increasingly gaining local and wider recognition, has received numerous awards and continues to appear on best of lists by theatre critics and the trade press. Under Holger Schultze as artistic director, the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg registers a very high occupancy rate, reaching more than 170,000 viewers every year, and an amazing response from the audience. Every summer, the festival Heidelberger Schlossfestspiele offers productions from all categories and festive concerts on the city’s most beautiful stages: the stages in Heidelberg’s castle ruins.

Photo: waechter + waechter Architekten

The theatre repertoire comprises classics as well as numerous world premieres and German premieres. 1984 saw the first Heidelberger Stückemarkt, one of the oldest and most renowned festivals for contemporary theatre, profiling a different guest country each year. In February 2017, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg first staged ¡Adelante! as a festival with extraordinary guest performances from Ibero-American countries that is unique on Germany’s stages. In 2022, the one-off festival Remmidemmi celebrates contemporary drama by staging ten new plays, commissioned by the Theater Heidelberg, all focusing on »resistance«.

Photo: Thomas Ott

The musical theatre and opera category of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg comprises a singer ensemble and the opera choir (in addition to the extra choir and children’s choir) as well as the Philharmonisches Orchester, making up a separate category in its function as concert orchestra. The musical theatre an opera repertoire comprises works from all musical eras, reaching from Baroque to contemporary musical theatre and genre operas, operettas as well as musicals. The annual Baroque festival Winter in Schwetzingen rediscovers forgotten treasures of the opera and stages them in Schwetzingen’s Palace Rokokotheater.

The concert section is characterised by a broad variety of concert formats and the stylistic flexibility of the orchestra from the Baroque to Modernity. Since 2006, the Philharmonisches Orchester Heidelberg has been engaging with historic staging methods as part of the festival Winter in Schwetzingen. As part of Heidelberg’s women artists’ award, the Heidelberger Künstlerinnenpreis, and its concert programmes, the orchestra regularly reflects on the works of women composers. Music education also plays a major role. 

Photo: waechter + waechter architekten bda

The Dance Theatre Heidelberg promotes contemporary aesthetics as well as an integrative approach within Germany’s state, city and federal theatre landscape. The company’s repertoire includes different creations by Iván Pérez – often in cooperation with the Philharmonisches Orchester Heidelberg and other divisions – as well as commission works taken over by international guest choreographers. The dance festival Tanzbiennale Heidelberg takes place every other year and is a cooperation with UnterwegsTheater, showing an international guest performance programme. 

The Junges Theater Heidelberg shows at least four new productions each year intended for an audience of three years and above. Productions take place on their own stage Zwinger 3, while the winter play, a Christmas piece, is shown at Alter Saal and the summer play is an open-air production at the castle, the Heidelberger Schloss. The Junges Theater Heidelberg is an active theatre with low hierarchies that likes to experiment with new forms of theatre and stages challenging stories for young people.

Photo: Steffen Fuchs

Digital 360° theatre tour

A look behind the scenes with the 360° theatre tour

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the move back into the renovated and partially rebuilt Stadttheater, the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg invites all curious theatre lovers to virtually explore the theatre building - in a lavishly produced, digital 360° tour, the first part of which can now be experienced

When designing the new building, it was already a concern to make the theatre work behind the curtain visible. The large window fronts from Friedrichstraße into the theatre's workshops or rehearsal stages have made this possible for 10 years. With the digital tour, everyone is now invited to go on an exploratory tour on and backstage and to look around the workshops themselves, beyond the opening hours of the theatre.

In the course of the season, the tour will be extended so that eventually a complete walk through the theatre will be possible. At regular intervals, there will also be new small artistic contributions on the virtual stages that provide insights into the current programme.