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DIGITAL NATIVES is a cooperation project between five of the UTE's member theatres: Volkstheater Wien, Comédie de Reims, Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, Schauspiel Köln and National Theatre of Northern Greece. The starting point of their collaboration is the play Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill, a play about teenage identity and interactions, the power of perception and technology. The five theatres will take the text and work on it, either staging a production or using its themes as the basis for workshops with amateur teenage actors. The theatres, together with their amateur actors, will simultaneously develop a digital experiment during the rehearsal period. These digital experiments are contrasted with four conferences that will take place throughout the course of the project, allowing people to look at the topic through the eyes of academics and field experts, as well as digital natives as experts on their lifestyle. The project will culminate in a Digital Festival Night that will bring the project full circle both in terms of the artistic as well as the digital output.

The young adults working on the Concord Floral production at the Volkstheater Wien (directed by Simon Windisch) will develop the characters of the play through creating Instagram profiles for them parallel to the rehearsal process. They will relate their characters directly to circumstances and experiences from their Viennese living situation; they will get in touch—as their characters—with the outside world. To round out their exploration of digital issues, the Volkstheater will examine digital communication and relationships with the help of teens and "silver surfers". Young and old will connect to compare and contrast their digital lives.

The Hungarian Theatre of Cluj will examine positive and negative aspects of a digital lifestyle. While creating their theatre production, the teenagers participating in Cluj’s Concord Floral will create a vlog in their digital experiment, which will then also be incorporated into the production. Their vlogs will not only take the audience behind the scenes of the production, but into their thoughts on the role that digital technology has in their lives. Their vlogs will bring theatre production to the digital world and explore the balance between the two.

The Comédie de Reims will bring this project directly to the schools by creating workshops around Concord Floral, documenting them with the help of a Facebook Page and casting some of its participants in the production. The amateur actors involved will be guided in creating their performance of the play, directed by Ferdinand Barbet, by the artists in residence at the Comédie de Reims, the “Collectif 17”. Their digital experiment will focus on how digital means frequently are the source of suffering, especially among teenagers, due to cyber bullying, social pressure, feeling of exclusion, etc. Detailed information and photos are available on their Facebook page. Check them out on Instagram.

The Schauspiel Köln will explore different aspects of the digital world by staging Concord Floral and by creating* digi/topia*, a performative experiment documented on Instagram and brought to stage from 17 to 19 May 2019. Adapted to the settings of Chorweiler, a neighborhood in Cologne, and staring 10 teenagers from Chorweiler with no previous theatre experience, the adaptation of Concord Floral will explore important themes like death, friendship and the importance of a clean conscience in today's world dominated by smartphones and Internet. In digi/topia 30 actors aged 13 to 78 embark on a journey into the future togheter with director and theatre pedagogue Bassam Ghazi. By exploring utopias and dystopias of our digital world and presenting their investigations in a performative experiment, they offer a glimpse of the influence the digital has on the day to day life of people of all ages and backgrounds. Information about the productions can be found here and here.

The National Theatre of Northern Greece will organize workshops for teens in which they deal with issues of digitisation in Concord Floral. The 40 participants will create workshop scenes working together in smaller groups, focusing on the challenges they face due to digitisation and the effects this has on their families, schools, and friends. The teenagers will use social media to document their explorations in the theatre workshops and gain even more insight by encouraging teenagers in Greece to engage with them online in a discussion on digitisation.

Photo credits: Ana Lukenda