Theater Plakat des Stücks: es zeigt sechs Menschen vor einem schwarzen Hintergrund - CC: Charlott Schönwetter

#AusDemSeminarraum: From the University Classroom to the Theatre Stage

Das Format #AusDemSeminarraum bietet die Gelegenheit,  Lehr- und Studienerfahrungen in den Gender Studiengängen an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin zu reflektieren und darüber zu berichten. Die Gender Studies an der HU bieten seit mehr als zwanzig Jahren transdisziplinäre, intersektionale und wissenskritische Lehre an. Daraus erwachsen sind gefestigte Netzwerke und vielfältiges Erfahrungswissen, von dem die Gestaltung der Lehrveranstaltungen in jedem Semester profitieren. Zugleich bleiben Lehr- und Lernprozesse lebendig, sie stellen sich aktuellen Herausforderungen und fordern neue Gestaltungsweisen, sie entdecken innovative Themen und vielfältige Herangehensweisen und sind oftmals gekennzeichnet vom herausragenden Engagement aller Beteiligten. Wer sich für die Lehre in den Gender Studies interessiert, wird hier Anregungen finden.

In her seminar “Social Theatre of Awareness: Focus on Gender and Migrancy”, Dr. Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong gave the students an opportunity for a reflective and creative experience that took the form of engaging a group of students in developing a play around the topics of gender and experience of migration through social theatre and embodiment. At its core the seminar raised the question of how the important yet complex topics of gender and migrancy can be discussed in order to transcend traditional, perhaps even academic, approaches. Translating theory into practice, the closing event of the course was a unique theatre performance hosted in Spandau and three months later as part of the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften.

 In the seminar room…

While we acknowledge the importance of researching and producing knowledge about how the category of gender and the experience of migration may affect individuals, we also recognize the need of looking for creative solutions and develop alternative methods to raise awareness around these topics. This is the challenge that Dr. Chiangong took by inviting her students and guest participants to reflect on these topics. Students from Gender Studies and African Studies of Humboldt Universität joined the class and they worked together to first of all learn from the theories and techniques of Social Theatre, as presented by Dr. Chiangong.

 What is Social Theatre?

Social Theatre is about bringing feelings and embodied experiences on stage. It’s about learning and growing together through a communal use of space in a way that traditional barriers between performers, spectators, and contributors are rethought and reshaped. On stage, we engage the audience with a performance which is translated into an open conversation. The main goal is to make space for marginalized voices and performances to challenge common cultural and social beliefs by providing the individuals involved with a chance to reflect on important issues, such as gender and migration.

…and on the stage

The students in the course worked in collaboration with guest participants invited from the city of Berlin. These guest participants contributed their experience of migration from Cameroonian, Ghanaian, German, and Gambian backgrounds. During a one-week intensive theatre workshop, the students and guest participants created a play, Grenzgaenger*innen, from Social Theatre practices, personal experiences, and collective representations of all the topics discussed. The results were brought on stage in the form of a vibrant stage performance at the Jugend Theater Werkstatt in Spandau on March 1st 2019. A second performance of the play took place during the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften on June 15th 2019. The collaboration with the Berlin public during the theatre workshop continued with an inclusion of exchange students visiting the Department of African Studies from the Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi. It was a memorable evening as it drew many spectators from other departments of Humboldt Universität and the Berlin public.


Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong is Assistant Lecturer in the Department of African Studies at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. She obtained her Ph.D. in African Theatre and Drama Studies from the University of Bayreuth in 2008. She is currently working on her habilitation which is focused on the representation of old age in African theatre and drama.

Margherita Sgorbissa is a Gender Studies master student at Humboldt Universität. She works as Community and Project Manager for the Women Writing Berlin Lab and Womernet Uganda and runs a newborn Diversity Consulting business, FairForce Co.