“Everything is entangled, we live in a world of interdependencies, there is no ontological difference between the world of the human and the non-human”

Habitat Theatre: How to Transform a Territory into a Stage – A Manual is the epicentre for Anthropos Ex — a long-term project by Swiss / German theatre practitioners Barbara Boss, Damiàn Dlaboha, Maximilian Grünewald, Mira Hirtz and Béla Rothenbühler in search for a theatre of the anthropocene. The five elements form the collective Initiative for Applied Melancholy, and gave us some updates on how they expect this project to unfold. 

When and how did your project start?
The project Habitat Theatre, our proposition for Driving the Human Festival is the brainchild of our collective Initiative for Applied Melancholy. The concept of Habitat Theatre is closely connected to our main project Anthropos Ex in the biosphere Entlebuch, an idea that was born in September 2020. The initial meeting took place in Lucerne, Switzerland. This was when we started to think about our longtime engagement in the biosphere Entlebuch and how Habitat Theatre could help ‘prepare the stage’ for that project.

What is the profile of the project collaborators?
Our collective consists of a mixed group of people, whose expertises stretches from theatre, dance and performing arts, to literature and production.

Which stage is the project in?
Right now we are still in the stage of curiosity, which is an important stage to be in.Our research spreads from interviews with renowned theatre practitioners, philosophers and scientists from various disciplines, to questioning our own artistic methods and even our modes of perception. This process is very dynamic, for there are a lot of different epistemological languages involved, so translation is a huge part of our work at the moment: The question is, how to find a vocabulary that is understood by both scientists and artists.

Research centres

In this phase of your research, what are the two most important aspects of the project?
We believe that, right now, the most important aspect of our process is not to prioritize our own perspective over others: Our way of looking at the world is – of course – entangled with our artistic backgrounds. What we want to avoid is to dictate our perspective, but instead open a real dialogue between the disciplines. 
On the other hand it is important for us to always stay as specific as possible in our questions and demands: The various experts we ask to participate in our project can only help us if we ask the right questions. These two aspects are as important as they are difficult to combine. 

What are the next steps in research?
The next step will be the conceptualization of a number of workshops we plan to realize next year. They will form our prototype and will mirror our effort to bring together the sciences and the arts in order to find narratives for the world of the non-human. How to give a voice to the non-humans? How can we better understand the relations and entanglement of nature and culture? Are those still helpful categories? How can theatre help to re-start a dialogue with the world around us and not only among humans? These are the questions we want to tackle in our further research.

How could we improve our relationship with nature?
We can only improve our relationship with nature if we overcome outdated categories that manifest or even invent differences between nature and culture, animal and human, subjective and objective. With our project we hope to situate a knowledge we already have: Everything is entangled, we live in a world of interdependencies, there is no ontological difference between the world of the human and the non-human. And knowing that: How can we alter our perception? How can we rethink concepts of nature or human in order to have a better understanding of a world at risk?