ARENA... of the Young Arts
ARENA... of the Young Arts is an international theatre festival which annually presents varieties of performance, dance and physical theatre in Erlangen, Germany over the course of one week.


The focus is on contemporary, interdisciplinary, cross media and experimental productions which developed independently of the institutionalized theatre system and which are to be realized at unconventional venues. ARENA... of the Young Arts wants to offer a platform to the international independent theatre scene and thereby encourage an exchange between international artists, theatre and media practitioners, academics and the audience. That is why lectures, panel discussions, workshops offered by artists and talks about the productions with a professional jury are other integral parts of the ARENA... program.
On the "Final Night" of the festival three prizes are presented. A five-person jury from an academic background and theatre or media practice chooses the production of the festival it considers most remarkable for the ARENA... prize of the jury. The audience also gets the chance to choose its favourite production. After each performance the members of the audience can leave comments and opinions on voting slips. The production with the best overall evaluation wins the ARENA... audience prize.
Independent from the jury or the audience, the ARENA... team chooses one of the productions to work with on a new coproduction for the next festival.
The festival is organised by students of the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg voluntarily. The artists participate without payment, but ARENA bears the costs of journeys, catering and accommodation. Considerable outside means are necessary to finance the festival, which is why ARENA... is dependent on partners in the cultural, political and economic structures of Erlangen and Germany.
The patrons of the festival are the president of the University Erlangen-Nuremberg Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske and the mayor of Erlangen Dr. Siegfried Balleis.


The Coproduction by ARENA… of the young arts is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011.
The Coproduction is about realizing a completely new project with young professional artists and students from Erlangen, with both sides benefiting from it. Over the course of one year ARENA… a group of artists, who performed at the previous ARENA... festival and won the ARENA Coproduction prize, are developing a complete new production which will be presented at the festival. This provides the participating students with the opportunity to occupy themselves in transnational projects on a professional level, while the involved artists find a platform for international exchange and are able to carry out a project without the connection to the institutionalized theatres.


ARENA productions have always supported and sustained the relationship between young artists and provided them with a platform to realize their projects. By CoLabs, we imply a dynamic production process within the context of the ARENA... institution and the involvement of freelance young artists and ensembles that we want to support. CoLabs provide the artists with an infrastructure for new works or works in progress, which can be individually tailored according to their needs.


ARENA… of the Young Arts has a history of 21 years to reflect on. The festival has undergone a number of developments and changes such as the introduction of a coproduction and a jury of international standing to increase the festival’s competitive edge. Though the team receives approximately 100 applications each year, on average, they must narrow their intake down to 10-15 performance groups, who come from all over the world. In addition to the countries listed above, the line ups in previous years have included groups from Poland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Israel, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Australia, Brazil and Russia. The physical nature of the festival also allows for an international audience of approximately 1500 festival visitors each year. Alongside its own festival magazine - ARENA Spots, and an audio-visual documentation team - ARENA Zoom, ARENA... has been attracting increasing attention from local, regional and national papers and radio stations. It has also recently been linked with the German company responsible for theatre related media and broadcasting, ZDFtheaterkanal.

ARENA... of the Young Arts 2011

After a successful twenty-year anniversary in the last year, the motto of the festival in 2011 is "ARENA... looks away!"
The festival is going to take place in Erlangen from 31 May to 5 June.



ARENA... of the Young Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary and goes under the slogan 'Future for Breakfast'. The Coproduction of this year is a durational dance installation of the israeli/british/french performance group 'Tadam Company'. ARENA uses the opportunity of the anniversary to take a close look at its history and publishes a chronicle.


For the first time ever, ARENA... opens with two performances taking place simultaneously. One of these is also the first opera shown in the history of ARENA. Fourteen groups, the Coproduction, various Cooperations and a full supporting programme devote themselves to the festival's theme 'Idyll at the Abyss'. The Coproduction with the Vienna Performance Collective 'Gods Entertainment' is polarizing and quite literally breathtaking; the audience has to jump into a swimming pool before they can enjoy any of the integrated underwater audio play taking place at a pool party.


The festival opens with a performance of 'Los quatro Cubos' by the Argentinian group 'Compania Buster Keaton'. Special Guest at this festival is the man behind the masterwork, the author of the piece - Fernando Arrabal Terán. Nobody could imagine just what he had in store for us. This year's theme is Freiraum/Open Space.


The town is flooded in a sea of pink. SinnFlut-Senseabundance explores the vast amount of sensory experiences we are exposed to every day. The team also takes the opportunity to meet up with two members of the original ARENA... founding team who have made it big, Jan Bosse and Kathrin Plath.


'Remote' is the theme of this year's festival. Twelve groups from countries like Israel, England, the Czech Republic and others perform at this festival, among others the Wired Aerial Theatre with a breath-taking bungee cord acrobatics performance


The International Week of Young Theatre becomes ARENA... of the Young Arts. This year's theme is 'Crazy'. With Shadow puppetry in one of the deepest Bierkellers on the Erlangen Berg, an evening dance with a skeleton and the construction and destruction of a festival hotel, this year is particularly special.


The ARENA... Festival has another special theme this year: LebensART- Lifestyle. The Portuguese group, Pedro Ribeiro/Sofia Fragoso, combine dance, painting, theatre and photography to form a magnificent fashion show at the Erlangen station.


The 2001 Coproduction 'Sine Loco' has a major achievement to celebrate as it is invited to be shown at the Donau Festival in Austria and wins an award for the most innovative production at the Golden Mask
Golden Mask
The Golden Mask is a Russian theatre festival and the National Theatre Award established in 1994 by the Theatre Union of Russia. The award is given to productions in all genres of theatre art: drama, opera, ballet, operetta and musical, and puppet theatre. It presents the most significant...



ARENA... produces the Coproduction this year together with 'Beautiful Monster', a company from Australia. The performance 'A Night of Senses' takes place in a multistory car park and is a spectacular way to celebrate Erlangen’s 1000th Birthday. Lectures after show talks and workshops all contribute to a comprehensive and colourful programme.


The festival begins to get attention from the international press. The journalist Andreas Jüttner from Theaterheute raves about the ARENA Coproduction 'Sine Loco' with artists from the St Petersburg Art Collective 'Axe'. The newly introduced “talkArt” is an additional component to the festival that offers the audience a chance to talk to the artists directly after each performance.


In line with the theme of “Living wild and dangerously”, a completely new team takes on the task of hosting the festival’s 10th Anniversary. A few members can’t resist coming back after all, but the ‘newbies’ nevertheless manage to pull off a completely new structure and celebrate a successful jubilee.


According to the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, the Erlangen audience looks forward to fourteen extraordinary performances this year. The team works together in such a smooth and effortless way that the new team for the coming year has a hard act to follow.


The team reinforces the significance of the prizes awarded each year by recruiting a jury of six international artists and practitioners, including Bodo Birk. The highlight of this year is the deceptively real underground station that is constructed in the middle of the Erlangen old town.


By 1997 there is no founding member of ARENA... left in the team. Even though suffering from the seven year itch, ARENA manages to present great theatre. Their constant search to find unusual performance spaces reaches a high point when a sound installation and physical performance take place in one of the Bierkellers on the famous Erlangen Berg.


This year will be remembered in the ARENA... history forever. The financial situation is so dire that the realization of the festival is endangered until the very last moment. With their campaign 'ARENA hits Rock Bottom' the team takes on boot polishing in order to raise the necessary money. At the very last minute, the general public takes on a large share of the costs so that sixteen groups can present their work. The coproduction, “A sunny day" with Bodo Birk is very successful.


The Coproduction this year is a cooperation between ARENA... and the Living Theatre in New York. The rehearsal period is extremely short, intense and not entirely satisfactory in its results for everyone. The festival newspaper Spots is created and delivered by independent ARENA supporters overnight, for everyone to read over breakfast.


ARENA e.V. is awarded a cultural prize by the town of Erlangen and a smaller festival takes place as part of the "Bayerische Theatertage".


ARENA... presents 'BeckettSpiel' in conjunction with the 'Theater Erlangen'. The director Willi Bernhart causes a first stir when critizising explicitly every performance not to his taste.


The first co-production with the 'Centro Dramatico Elvira' from Spain takes place. The festival has a theme for the first time and prizes are awarded to the best acts. The festival’s focus opens up to embrace the entire independent theatre scene as well as student theatre. Accordingly, the festival is renamed the 'International Week of Young Theatre'.


The first real festival with ten groups from nine different countries takes place and is called the 'International Week of Young Student Theatre'. Michael Frühbis writes: „ARENA 91 was a real rush. For a brief moment, we changed people’s perceptions. Everything felt different, it was more free, faster and it followed its own rules.“


On 11 January, the association of ARENA International Theatre Students e.V (AIT) is founded. Bodo Birk, the current head of the Figurentheater-Festival in Erlangen and Nuremberg, and Jan Bosse, the now acknowledged director, are part of the founding team. Both in their first semester, they have to fight for recognition. Two performances are shown alongside a number of lectures and discussions.

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