Practices and Futures of Collectives

27. February 2024 | 11:30 -
Ballhaus Ost, Pappelallee 15, 10437 Berlin

Practices and Futures of Collectives

Collective forms of working have always been a feature of the independent performing arts community. In recent times, however, there has been a very clear trend toward collectives in the cultural sector as a whole as well as beyond that can be observed. Concepts such as new work, commons or care work combine the search for non-hierarchical, self-determined, possibly direct democratic, solidary organizational structures with the notion of the collective. Existing structures as well as are currently undergoing corresponding transformation processes, for example, new leadership positions are frequently being filled by dual leadership models or teams. 

In this symposium, jointly curated by the special research area Affective Society of the Free University of Berlin and the Berlin Performing Arts Program, we invite you to enter into conversation about specific practices of collectives and about possible futures for this organizational form. 

Over the course of practical workshops, the collectives hannsjana, Meine Damen und Herren, vorschlag:hammer and representatives from Theaterhaus Jena (artistic director Lizzy Timmers, dramaturg Hannah Baumann and ensemble member Anna K. Seidel) will provide insight into their lived practices: what distinguishes collective forms of working? What similarities, differences and challenges can be observed in artistic, curatorial or organizational contexts? How do collectives develop their methods and ways of working and how can these be passed on? 

There will be an opportunity for networking and then we will enter into a round of conversation with Anne Bonfert (Frl. Wunder AG), Mieke Matzke (She She Pop), Hannah Baumann & Lizzy Timmers (Theaterhaus Jena) and Andrea Rohrberg (the consulting company synexa consult Essen) and reflect upon the social and cultural policy promises that arise from collective organizational structures and leadership. What is the connection between criticism of institutions and collective forms of working and what role do young, activist, unionist and discursive efforts play in reacting to structural shortcomings and abuses of power in the field of theater? 
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­Shedule of Events                                                                                                                  ­       ­

­11:30 am
Accreditation and Coffee

11:45 pm
Opening Greeting and Introduction

With Anja Kerschkewicz (Frauen & Fiktion, the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art), Theresa Schütz (the Free University of Berlin, Special Research Area Affective Societies) and Sarah Stührenberg (the Berlin Performing Arts Program)

12:00 pm
Workshop A: Note and Laptop Collective. Collective Authorship Between Analog and Digital Work.

With Jule Gorke and Katharina Siemann (hannsjana)
This workshop looks at strategies of collective authorship, research and conceptualization - from the shared assessment of individual knowledge to the attempt to text together all the way to the dramaturgical arrangement of the “slip of paper economy”. In doing so, basic questions about the shaping of collective processes will accompany us: How is responsibility distributed and acted out? How can mutual care be kept in mind - and what causes this objective to fail? How can a shared humor be found? The collective will present methods and invite the participants to try them out together in a practical exercise as well as to critically discuss them.

As the female artist collective hannsjana, Laura Besch, Jule Gorke, Lotte Schüßler, Katharina Siemann and Marie Weich have developed performances, audio tours and video works together since 2011. Their work has been seen at, amongst other venues,  Sophiensaele Berlin, Luzerner Theater, Nationaltheater Mannheim as well as at Theater Thikwa Berlin. (currently offline due to revisions); Instagram @hannsjana

Workshop B: The Future Belongs to the Collective - Where Does That Leave Me?

With Friederike Jaglitz and Simone Burckhardt (Meine Damen und Herren)
The more Meine Damen & Herren worked collectively, the more strongly the desire for individual productions where one person could make decisions alone grew. Will the individual be devoured by the collective? Over the course of practical exercises, the participants will conduct research into collective working methods for artistic processes. Where do “I” end up, if everything is a big compromise? How can different ideas and needs be represented in an artistic process? How can mutual decisions be made if everything isn’t discussed together?


MD&H has transformed itself into a collective. How that work is an important question for the daily work. They continue to learn how they can improve the working and decision-making processes. And they remain open in terms of the question as to where their next working step will lead.

2:30 pm Break with Coffee and Snacks

3:00 pm
Workshop C: (Un)Productive Hanging Around

With Stephan Stock and Kristofer Gudmundsson (vorschlag:hammer)
The theatrical work of vorschlag:hammer is created in a creative process between hanging around together and leaving space so that ideas come, dealing with the ideas of others, resorting to tried and true techniques and standing in front of the infamous dramaturgical wall of notes.  The collective will provide a brief insight into its approach to this work and try to demonstrate using examples how work like this can succeed and where it comes up against its limits.        
vorschlag:hammer has developed theater productions since 2009. Its performative narrative theater has opened itself up for new aesthetic strategies, visual-atmospheric works or body-oriented works. In doing so, they adapt material that already exists or develop research-based productions.

Workshop D: How To Ensemblerat (Ensemble Board) Model

With Lizzy Timmers, Hannah Baumann and Anna K. Seidel (Theaterhaus Jena)
This workshop will provide insight into the ensemble board model as it is currently being practiced at Theaterhaus Jena. The participants will think up a situation inspired by the practical experiences of the theater and, in the “style of Theaterhaus Jena”, that is semi-collectively, work to make a decision in response to this. Lizzy Timmers, Hannah Baumann and Anna K. Seidel dare to try to share what they have learned from their work and further develop it as well as to reflect upon the obstacles that have emerged during the process. In addition, what aspects of this way of working and structure are interesting for other contexts?  


Lizzy Timmers is a director and performer as well as the artistic director of Theaterhaus Jena. Hannah Baumann is a theater maker and dramaturg at Theaterhaus Jena. They will facilitate the workshop together with the actor and ensemble member Anna K. Seidel. They do not share an artistic signature like a collective, but do decide upon answers to important artistic questions together.

5:30 pm Networking Meeting and Dinner

7:30 pm
Panel Discussion: The Potentials of Collective Forms of Leadership for the Future

With Anne Bonfert (Frl. Wunder AG), Mieke Matzke (She She Pop, the University of Hildesheim), Hannah Baumann & Lizzy Timmers (Theaterhaus Jena), Andrea Rohrberg (art therapist, co-founder of the consulting company synexa consult Essen)
Moderated by Theresa Schütz (the Free University of Berlin, Special Research Area Affective Societies)

This panel discussion will elaborate upon the specific opportunities and challenges offered and posed by collective leadership structures: which structural obstacles (for example, with an eye toward pay policies and decision-making processes) do we encounter when existing institutions decide to adopt and implement collective leadership models? How do operating structures, collaborations as well as aesthetics and programming change as a result of this? In what ways can the promise of non-hierarchical, participation-based work be realized, especially upon the leadership level? Will the collective become a corrective for outdated power structures? Are some institutions currently also simply conducting “collective washing”? The panelists invite the audience to reflect together upon the sustainability of collective leadership structures within the cultural sector. 


9:00 pm Closing and Informal Exchange


This event is a cooperation between the Berlin Performing Arts Program of LAFT Berlin and the Special Research Area SFB 1171 Affective Societies of the Free University of Berlin.

Information on registration and accessibility

Participation in the event is free of charge.

If you have any questions about accessibility or possible barriers, please contact Sarah Stührenberg at sarah.stuehrenberg [at] ( )or 030/ 20 45 979 14 (available by phone Monday and Thursday 11 am to 5 pm).

Carina Panther is available to answer any questions about accessibility at Ballhaus Ost:
carina.panther [at], phone: 030-44049250

Type of event
The symposium consists of four workshops, a networking opportunity and a panel discussion. The content is sometimes academic, sometimes practice-oriented, sometimes more serious and sometimes more relaxed. Silence is not expected at the event. But when very serious topics are discussed, there can be a tense or very concentrated atmosphere. Those who need a break can withdraw.

The event will take place in German spoken language. A whisper translation into English is possible during the workshops upon prior request. If you need a whisper translation for the workshops please contact Sarah Stührenberg till February 16 at: sarah.stuehrenberg [at]

We want to help ensure that all participants, visitors, colleagues and others involved in our symposium feel comfortable and enjoy talking to each other. Please be careful in your dealings with each other and let's create a place of mutual respect together. Should you nevertheless experience discrimination during the event, please contact our team for support. All team members are recognizable by a sticker, can be contacted at any time and strive to help quickly and respectfully.
If you have any questions or concerns before or after the event, you can also contact us by e-mail or phone at: sarah.stuehrenberg [at] or 030/ 20 45 979 14 (available by phone Monday and Thursday 11 am to 5 pm).

Spatial accessibility
The symposium will take place in the Ballhaus Ost.The premises of Ballhaus Ost are only partially wheelchair accessible. The workshops will take place on different floors, which are only accessible via stairs. The panel discussion will take place in the hall. This is located on the first floor and is wheelchair-accessible. The entrance doors are open on entry, otherwise they can be opened manually. They open to a width of 250 cm. There is a ramp at the entrance and wheelchair-accessible sanitary facilities near the entrance.
There are as many wheelchair spaces in the hall as required. There are also beanbags as an alternative seating option.

Unfortunately, there are no visitor parking spaces on the grounds of Ballhaus Ost and no designated disabled parking spaces in the immediate vicinity. In Pappellallee there is unfortunately only metered public street parking.

Once you have confirmed your registration, please contact the accreditation desk first.

Catering + breaks
Coffee, tea, water, fruit and small pastries will be available throughout the event. In addition, we will provide a small dinner after the workshops at around 5:30 pm. All meals are either vegetarian or vegan.



Registrations for the workshops and the panel discussion are currently no longer possible as the maximum number of participants has been reached. Unfortunately, there is no waiting list either.








Registrations for the workshops and the panel discussion are currently no longer possible as the maximum number of participants has been reached. Unfortunately, there is no waiting list either.

The event will take place in German spoken language. Whispered translation to English is only possible for the workshops if required.