The symposium is organized by the Bayreuth Festival, the Institute for Theater Studies at Freie Universität, Freie Universität "Theater und Fest" research group funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and the Society of Friends of Bayreuth. The symposium is under the direction of Prof. Dr. Clemens Risi and Robert Sollich from Freie Universität, Prof. Dr. Matthias Warstat, University of Erlangen, and the BMBF "Theater und Fest" research group.
The choice of "Theater as Festivity – Festivity as Theater" as a theme references two events: first, the revival of Stefan Herheim's staging of Parsifal and, second, the 300th anniversary of the birth and 250th anniversary of the death of Margravine Wilhelmine von Bayreuth.
The festival concept, which has characterized not only Bayreuth but also other modern festivals, can be understood in two ways: it may refer to a festive surround for theater yet also evokes the theatrical staging of festivities for political, religious, or aesthetic purposes. The symposium sets out to investigate this modern festival concept from a historical and comparative perspective.
The symposium, divided into three sections, addresses "the festival concept and its transformations," "the festival as a location of political movement," and "the festival as a form of participation." Within the context of the festival theme, the conference also includes a panel discussion of Stefan Herheim's staging of Parsifal.