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Studying Applied Theater

Matthias Warstat Starts Research at Freie Universität Berlin with an ERC Advanced Grant

№ 387/2012 from Dec 19, 2012

The theater studies scholar Professor Matthias Warstat started his research on applied theater at Freie Universität Berlin. His project "The Aesthetics of Applied Theatre" is being funded by a substantial fellowship from the European Research Council (ERC). Warstat was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant in the amount of 2.28 million euros over a five-year period. The project focuses on theater forms used, for example, in social project work, the therapeutic treatment of trauma, or political campaigns.

At first glance it might seem that theater meeting specific everyday purposes and exploitation for societal concerns is unrelated to theater for the sake of art. Both, however, rely in part on similar aesthetic devices and media framing. Warstat's approach is to compare international forms of applied theater: theater traditions from different cultural backgrounds are combined anew and sometimes changed radically. The regional focus of the project is on Africa, Europe, North and South America, and the Middle East.

In the coming years, the research team aims to investigate how the particular situation of applied theater performance can best be described and what new forms of representation have emerged. Another issue being considered is how applied theater fulfills the aesthetic demands of the modern arts, i.e., autonomy, negation, and violation.

Matthias Warstat, born in 1972, has been a professor of theater studies at Freie Universität Berlin since August 2012. After completing his degree in theater studies and modern history at Freie Universität, he earned his doctorate in 2002 through a DFG-funded Priority Programme "Theatricality as a Model in Cultural Studies.” His dissertation dealt with the theatrical aspects of celebrations for workers. He next investigated the relationship between crisis and recovery in the aesthetics of avant-garde theater, leading to his habilitation in 2008, which qualified him as a professor at a German university. He then headed a BMBF-funded alliance studying "Theater and Celebration in Europe." From 2008 to 2012 he was Chair of Theatre and Media Studies at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, where he applied for and was awarded the ERC Advnaced Grant. Warstat is a member of the Young Academy of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and of the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina.

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Matthias Warstat, Institute for Theater Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel. +49 (0)30/838-50315 (sec.: Dorith Budich),


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Professor Matthias Warstat, Freie Universität Berlin. Honorarfrei bei Angabe der Quelle "Freie Universität Berlin"

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