Theaterfestival Schwindelfrei 2020

Every two years, the Cultural Office of the City of Mannheim (Kulturamt) presents current artistic approaches and forms of expression arising out of the regional independent art scene in its theatre festival Schwindelfrei. For this year’s production, three groups from the metropolitan Rhine-Neckar region have been selected for an artist residency. For three weeks – starting on June 15, 2020 – the artists will work with independent theatres throughout the city on skits, short performances and installations that they will then share with the public during the festival weekend.

In addition to the resident artists, the 2020 #specialedition will include  further projects by Mannheim artists as well as guest performances from outside the region. All the groups involved are presently working on digital and/or live formats that respond artistically to the current limitations on presentation forms and public gathering regulations.

“The danger of a single story” is what the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls the peril of reducing a person or group to a single perspective. To avoid this, the Theaterfestival Schwindelfrei 2020 with the theme of ‘Fabulations’ is embarking on a journey to discover more than a single story and is seeking out the stories that have been excluded, forgotten or have yet to be written. The projects that have been invited to participate this year explore how narratives affect our opinions
and actions; they question and redefine the patterns that we use to write and read the world.

The Theaterfestival Schwindelfrei is conceived of as a meeting point and platform for independent performing artists in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The Festival makes spaces available for experimental formations, initiates exchange between the local and regional scenes, seeks contact with the neighbourhood and to the public in Mannheim. The Festival has been organized by the Cultural Office of the City of Mannheim since 2009 and is taking place for the 7th time in 2020.

For the first time in the Festival’s history, an advisory board has been established for Schwindelfrei 2020 to assist with the preparations and program selection. The members of the advisory board represent various fields involved in the cultural and social life in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The board is here to advise the artistic direction particularly on sensitive matters having to do with anti-discriminatory methods of dealing with diversity and difference in respect to social inequality, discussing questions of accessibility and supporting local networks for the Festival.

Festival Theme


FABULATIONEN – more than a single story

It matters what stories tell stories.
It matters what thoughts think thoughts.
It matters what worlds world worlds.

Donna Haraway

What stories will tell our stories in the future? What social fables and theoretical models will determine how we see the world and our city? What thoughts are thinking our thoughts? What worlds and realities are we creating through our language and images, in our everyday thinking, in our speech and actions? Who will pick up the threads? Who will let them fall and who will continue to spin them? Who is not a part of the story, not a part of the game?

Under the title “FABULATIONS – more than a single story,” the Theaterfestival Schwindelfrei 2020 will address the meaning of narratives in our daily actions, attitudes and convictions and sets out to find more than a single story. The Festival will seek out diverse tales, forgotten myths or myths yet to be written, tales and visions. The Festival invites you to take a stand against yarns spun from quickly-collected images and to recognize blind spots in the public’s perception that perpetuate unconscious power structures and discrimination (“danger of a single story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie).

The focus is on current aesthetic forms that frame the theatre as a utopian-critical space for unheard or not-yet-thought-of stories and scenarios – i.e., performative visions that will overwrite our sense of reality for a moment or that will supplement reality directly with what has been painfully missing in our lives.

Program 2020

playing schedule