Peatland – Theater on a train

The ensemble Das Letzte Kleinod has been performing theater in their ocean blue train for many years. For the youth project Peatland – supported by the Fonds Darstellende Künste within the GLOBAL VILLAGE KIDS program – they teamed up with the Deinster Bahnhof development association and the Elbe-Weser Railroads and Transport Company and invited children and young people, both those with and without experience as refugees, to explore the surrounding area on their train. Artists Jens-Erwin Siemssen and Juliane Lenssen share their experiences from the project.

A group of young people pose in front of a blue train. © Juliane Lenssen, Jens Erwin Siemssen

The theme of the theater project was the landscape around us, which tells many stories. The 24 young people went in search of stories in the village and in the surrounding countryside: They met family members or people who had moved to the region recently or long ago. The people came from Eritrea, Pakistan, Turkey, Romania and other countries. They visited people and asked them about their experiences and memories. Young people told about how they have come to terms with life in the countryside and what they think about mobility, nature and home. All the journeys were made on public trains. Everything was documented with a cell phone or by taking notes. The stories and interviews were turned into texts, short films and video clips for the theatrical performance.

Three teenage girls in saris on a stage. © Juliane Lenssen, Jens Erwin Siemssen

The presentation reflected the approach of combining old and new stories and traditions and combined texts, music and dance. In addition to dealing with the peat landscape of Lower Saxony and its inhabitants, dances from Transylvania (Romania), India and Bosnia were danced, recipes for stuffed vine leaves were shared, songs in the local dialect, Low German or Plattdeutsch, such as "Dat du min Leevsten büst" were sung and scenes were performed in a forest landscape.

With GLOBAL VILLAGE KIDS, the Fonds Darstellende Künste supports projects at the interface of performing arts and cultural education in rural and digital spaces, financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of "Kultur macht stark. Bündnisse für Bildung."

The first part of the Peatland project took place in the fall of 2023 in Geestenseth, Lower Saxony, with children and young people between the ages of 11 and 18. Further information.