From the Files Onto the Stage: A project embracing the fields of research, teaching, theatre and youth work

Peace requires historical research and an honest perspective when reviewing the past. Important aspects which play a key role in creating peace include both experiences of solidarity and courage in times of violence, as well as recalling and processing trauma and concepts of the enemy. But how are the results of this historic peace work to be communicated? Should they remain in clever books only read by a few interested individuals?

The historian Dr. Eva Shöck-Quinteros from the University of Bremen and Peter Lüchinger from the Bremen Shakespeare-Company have found a most remarkable answer to this question: Students are currently researching files held in the state archive and the university has published volumes with documentary material. Selected files are carefully staged - often at the historic location. The acting is so committed that one can really feel a sense of time and suspense, the production so frugal in order to make the documentary nature visible. Teaching as a medium in itself, in particular theatre productions are capable of reaching a greater number and variety of people than books ever could.

From the Files onto the Stage: Bremen - A City at War; Photo: Marianne MenkeOn the occasion of the centennial memorial of the First World War, the project "A City at War: Bremen 1914-18" has been accompanied since 2013. This project, in this form unique in Europe, involves about 20 students, their tutor and the actors from the Shakespeare-Company who are dealing for the first time with a particularly historical phase of history. "A City at War: Bremen 1914-1918" is both the title of the play reading and of the comprehensive companion volume developed by the students. Selected from the 800-1000 pages of filed material, the stage director Peter Lüchinger has put together an uneasy chapter of contemporary history. The evening closes with the statement from an obstinate woman from Bremen who, on the 2nd January 1919, was outragd by the fact that the Workers and Soldiers Council had disarmed the 75th Infantry Regiment, and who longed for "a man like Bismarck to take the reins". This is a wish which will be fulfilled only 14 years later in a most fatal way. "Peter Lüchner put it in a nutshell when he said that the reasons for the Second World War were already evident in the First", says Eva Schöck-Quinteros.

After years of individual support, the schwelle Foundation 2014 has agreed to a cooperation contract with the University of Bremen in conjunction with the Bremen youth education institution Lidice-Haus with the aim of providing long-term active support to the project "From the Files onto the Stage". This creates a further piece of the puzzle necessary to ensure that this work has a long-term effect. A part-time staff position makes it possible to do justice to the meanwhile numerous requests from schools and extracurricular youth work for suitable materials. The Lidice-Haus, the university and the schwelle Foundation hope that the research results will therefore have further significance in the classroom and in extracurricular education projects.