TUSCH: School Meets Theater
TUSCH Darmstadt has existed since 2011. The theater project for students was created by an organization called the Freie Szene Darmstadt, an association of independent theaters. The idea behind TUSCH – which combines the words Theater and School – comes from Berlin. An independent theater troupe partners with one or more schools; the theatrical exchanges are meant to release new creative energies on both sides. TUSCH Darmstadt will be performing in the Moller Haus theater.
Nadja Soukup, Project Manager at TUSCH Darmstadt, in Interview
What challenges does your project address?
Students in different types of schools have, as a rule, almost no contact with one another. That hinders social interaction even from an early age and encourages shoebox thinking. Our project is therefore very intentionally addressed at students in all types of schools, and it brings the students into contact and exchange in various formats. In this process, every individual is an artist and learns through theater, in the context of a group, to express himself or herself. This allows elimination of prejudices and increased self-confidence among young people.
What are the themes of your initiative?
Collaboration among equals. In this process, children, youth, teens, teachers, and actors all try out means of expression that allow them to address different forms of community life in an artistic fashion. Performance in front of a general audience allows the students to breathe their first breath of theater air.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
The school system allows very little room for projects that don’t fit into the 45-minute schedule. Cross-disciplinary, exploratory projects are very difficult in this system. In this way, as well, TUSCH requires great flexibility from all parties.
What are you aiming to achieve?
The students live in an individual school cosmos. Outside of this familiar environment, they often have very few external contacts. Working with professional artists gives them an opportunity to expand their means of expression and to experience themselves in a new way. The performances in the Moller Haus theater also enable the to overcome stage anxiety and expand their knowledge of Darmstadt cultural locations.
What makes your project a model for others, and what can others learn from TUSCH?
Through the networking and intensive cooperation of theaters in the Freie Szene, the state theater, and the participating schools, a network is growing of interested teachers and students who remain involved in TUSCH for a number of years. This is creating a sustainable exchange among the culture-creators of the city. Establishing a wide network is the basis for introducing a maximum number of students from less culturally oriented milieus to the cultural institutions of the city. Culture is thus experienced as an opportunity to contribute politically and actively in society.