Theater with all the senses

By Christina Beeck and Frieder Schmitz-Beeck

From the very beginning, Christina Beeck and Frieder Schmitz-Beeck and their newly founded Theater im Wiesengässle in Mundingen have relied on a growing network of local cultural partners who they work with to implement educational theater projects in the region. For the "Theater mit allen Sinnen" (Theater with all the Senses) project, supported by the Fonds Darstellende Künste as part of the GLOBAL VILLAGE KIDS program, a partnership was formed with the inclusive Schmiechtal Kindergarten and the Wenzelstein neighborhood project of the Ehingen branch of the charity Caritas Ulm-Alb-Donau.

Theater between plum trees and new cultural venues

In the vastness of nature in the Swabian Alb biosphere reserve, the wind blows fresh ideas across the countryside. The Theater im Wiesengässle is a new creative space where you can experience the joy of creativity in a variety of ways. The initiators Christina Beeck and Frieder Schmitz-Beeck are experimenting with new approaches to theatrical forms in rural areas, drawing on the momentum of nature. They are developing artistic formats that help people discover their own creativity and creating experiential spaces for a theatrical experience. In its various facets, the "Theater mit allen Sinnen" project is a forum for experiencing low-barrier access to artistic processes. In particular, inclusive theater settings widen the individual’s horizons and increase the likelihood that the participants will work together in a respectful way.

In the practical test of the first theater pedagogical taster workshops, low-barrier meant exploring theatrical free play. Over several weeks, the children from the Schmiechtal Kindergarten tried out low-threshold forms of theatrical expression. "In the spirit of improvisational theater, we took the momentum of children's play and amplified it in a life-affirming way," says drama teacher and actress Christina Beeck. The focus was on the joy of expression in the present moment. Juicy plums from the orchard, colorful autumn leaves or bird feathers were sensual stimuli for aesthetic moments of play. The challenge was to make the resulting theatrical images repeatable. Familiar processes and the concentration on a limited selection of material helped the children here. The children enjoyed the intensive theater week, which ended with a workshop presentation for the parents and pupils of Schmiechtal School.

There are four children and two adults on a stage. There are several instruments on the stage. The children try them out. © Thilo Endres

The theater education team was joined by actor David Winterheld from KollektivKlusiv, an inclusive ensemble that develops accessible plays. He supported the intensive theater rehearsals and performed the current play "Fridolin der Regentropfensammler" (Fridolin the Raindrop Collector) at the beginning of the theater week. This took place on the premises of the St. Michael Catholic community center in the Wenzelstein district of Ehingen. Together with partner Caritas Ulm-Alb-Donau, it was successfully opened up to the district and thus was also accessible to other children and their parents who usually have little contact with theater.

The play, with simple language, also offered a sensual starting point with its poetic images and involved the audience as they watched Fridolin collecting the sounds of raindrops. Discovering the colors of the rainbow and the world in the rain also played a joyful role in the introduction to educational theater for the children of the Schmiechtal Kindergarten. "We now have the joint task of creating low-barrier access to culture," said one educational specialist at the end of the project. An attitude that reflects the spirit of successful cooperation and focuses on the participants in the project. In three phases, the project reached children with disabilities, as well as their parents and families in the Wenzelstein district, who are affected by social and educational disadvantage.

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 project Theater mit allen Sinnen was carried out in autumn 2023 in Ehingen/Baden-Württemberg with children aged between 4 and 6.

Further information.