Theatre as a Tool for Communication Management

Since the early 1990s, a particular convergence between business and theatre has occurred in Germany. Newly established, professional corporate theatre makers have increasingly been hired by companies and business organizations to utilize theatre methods and events, in order to improve employee communication, to facilitate the exchange of diverse forms of information, or to increase the motivation and improve the moods of staff. In this context, these theatre makers use and combine ideas and concepts from the theatrical avant-garde (especially Moreno, Brecht, Boal, and Johnstone). Thus, theatre methods that have been traditionally reserved for art are now imbued with a new functional dimension, one which has a pragmatic appreciation for the economics of change management.

The turn of the millennium marked the high point for these new modes of business-oriented theatre. This is evident from the great diversity of publications within economics and related disciplines, which attempted to outline the phenomenon from a perspective of "impact". These new modes, however, have received very little attention in the fields of theatre and performance studies.

Fabian Lempa's case study will address this gap. The chosen methodology, however, will only engage marginally with questions of effectiveness. Rather, the project will emphasize the ethical, political, and aesthetic issues that emerge from the tension between economics and theatre. The investigation will be based on both long-term practical observation and theoretical analysis.

Is it possible to think of corporate theatre as an aesthetic practice or only as a kind of service? Which elements of the theatrical avant-garde form the basis of the methods used in corporate theatre? How does corporate theatre engage with contingent, uncontrollable processes? How do facilitators and participants deal with the fact that interventions are always, ultimately, in the interest of the management? What is the effect of embedding theatre within an economic frame?

This project will last three years, and it will be conducted in close cooperation with multinational companies.