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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 008/2024 - 23 January 2024

New Master's degree course: "Applied Theatre: Theatre as Social Work" at the University of Bayreuth and Coburg University of Applied Sciences from winter semester 2024/25

The University of Bayreuth and Coburg University of Applied Sciences are jointly expanding their offer for students who want to meet the increasingly complex social challenges in an artistic way. In cooperation, they are offering the nationwide unique Master's degree program "Applied Theatre: Theatre as Social Work". Students research and practise new forms of artistic expression here. Social and political issues are transformed into artistic and activist practice together with people and their communities.

Prospective students have until May 15 to apply to start in the winter semester.

In recent years, the theater, its artists and institutions have developed innovative forms of artistic expression. Globalization, increasing migration and the resulting diversity in our European societies have led to the performing arts becoming actively involved in social and political areas. Theater, performance and dance not only deal with topics that are relevant to social work, but also expand their possibilities by collaborating with non-professional actors and thus creating new forms of aesthetic-artistic practice.

The term "applied theater" has become established for these new forms of theater. Applied theater can be seen, for example, as a community stage or district project, as participatory theater with diverse target groups and has established a fifth branch in publicly funded theaters. Not infrequently, these participatory forms of theater also take on activist traits. The art form moves between aesthetic freedom and its commitment to social issues, between artistic research and social action. In German-speaking countries, such an art form is growing up, which has hardly been taken into account in educational institutions - be it in theater studies or social work.

"With this degree course, we are breaking new ground in concrete social problem areas. Take the topic of integration, for example. This is about a certain social cohesion, encounters and the communication of democratic values. Applied Theatre can sustainably promote the achievement of these goals," says Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Ernst.

Professor Björn Bicker, who, as a practicing artist in this field, will lead the course from Coburg together with Professor Ernst from Bayreuth, underlines the relevance of the new course:

"It's about practicing community, community and experiencing the transformative, liberating power of artistic practice. In a society that is threatened by disintegration, this seems to me to be the central challenge. We want to enable our students to do this work."

The Master's degree program "Applied Theatre: Theatre as Social Work" leads to a second, professionally qualifying degree that enables students to lead artistic project and play development and production dramaturgy in and outside the theater. The course structure provides for the first two semesters to serve as an introduction to the sub-areas of theater studies, theater didactics, social work, cultural policy and cultural management as well as the immediate start of initial project-oriented work. Students develop and research their vision of applied theater in small teams and on campus at both locations. From the second semester onwards, the course is very practically oriented towards partner institutions in the social field.

These could be schools, retirement homes, youth centers, cultural associations and theaters. The focus is now on the development of a project in the social field, which is carried out by an interdisciplinary group of students. In cooperation with partner institutions from civil society, unique performances are created by and with non-professional actors. The fourth semester deepens the study experience in the form of the final Master's thesis.

Thanks to a practice-oriented, interdisciplinary range of courses, graduates acquire skills in the development, implementation and evaluation of theater projects with non-professional performers and diverse target groups. This includes in particular the successful realization of projects for different project sponsors and funding structures as well as knowledge of legal and social framework conditions, i.e. the core competencies of good social work.

The key qualifications of successful graduates of the Master's course include organizational competence, independent conceptual and artistic work as well as social-societal sensitivity in dealing with diverse target groups and actors. They are also proficient in facilitating group processes.

The degree program is embedded in the Faculty of Linguistics and Literature at the University of Bayreuth and the Faculty of Social Work at HAW Coburg.

Further information can be found here:



Portrait von Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Ernst

Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Ernst

Theatre Studies

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-3018 
E-mail: w.ernst@uni-bayreuth.de
Office: GW I, Room 2.18
Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth

Prof. Björn Bicker, HS Coburg

Prof. Björn Bicker

Coburg University 

Phone: +49 (0)9561 / 317-493
E-mail: bjoern.bicker@hs-coburg.de

Olga Gassan

Olga Gassan

University Marketing

Phone: +49 (0)921/ 55-5317
E-mail: olga.gassan@uni-bayreuth.de