Mar 13, 2023

BIRDS, FISH AND EVERY NOW AND THEN A CORAL: The workshop group in Germany

(german: Vögel, Fische, und immer mal wieder eine Koralle: Der Workshop „La Langue des Oiseaux“ in Göttingen, Deutschland)

In the first stage of our workshop programme within the framework of ERASMUS PLUS, a multilingual radio play was created, which was presented very successfully in Göttingen both at the multiplier event and at a theatre festival. The radio play “Die Sprache der Vögel” (The Language of Birds) was developed together with fourteen participants who brought a lot of creativity, a desire to play and different languages with them. In Spanish, French, Italian, Persian, in English, German and other languages, the group of what we call “Birds” resounded. The texts were created in a writing atelier in which all participants wrote short texts and poems after they had approached the theme of “Birds Nests” visually and dance-like with the help of pictures and movements. What do nests look like, which bird builds its nest high up, who builds in a hedge, how many birds live in a nest…. The metaphor “bird’s nest” proved to be a bridge for gentle exercises and conversations about feelings of security or loss.

The radio play was sent to our partners in France and Italy, enriched with audio material from there, and in this way the podcast of Malte, Sens Interdit and boat people projekt was created through an exchange of voices.

In the next stage, we started developing a play. Mille e uno… thousand and one is the title of a play that is to be created in connection with boat people projekt, Malte and Sens Interdit. Many stories are to culminate in one story that unites what we are all dealing with in the different places. It’s a big undertaking that starts in the local workshops.

The group in Göttingen has changed in the meantime. Some of the “Birds” have found jobs, some have moved to other cities, and so not everyone can attend weekly, although there is still a bond with the group and the theatre boat people project. At the same time, we received urgent requests from schools to integrate language beginners from their courses – our theatre is known in Göttingen for its multilingual workshops and expertise in working with people of different mother tongues.

This is how the follow-up course to the “Birds” came about, which we call “Corals”; since some of the language learners did not yet understand German at all, we worked with pictures and movements. The theme was birds and fish. Two groups meet on a journey, the meeting place is a youth hostel. Woodpecker, swallow, starling and other colourful birds meet pike, perch, koi and their friends… Step by step, sentences were practised, the first dialogues were created, which Luise Rist wrote for each participant. “Do fish swim faster than birds fly?”

The result was an acclaimed theatre evening in which precious corals were found; colourful underwater flowers, in Switzerland of all places. This was the holiday destination chosen by the young participants, who all come from regions of the world threatened by war, poverty and climate change. “Corals Grow in Switzerland” is the name of our play, whose impulses and inspirations are carried on to Italy and France, and beyond to our partners in Spain and Senegal – through the air like the language of birds… via Zoom, WhatsApp and at our meetings in the respective countries. This is how Mille e uno… a play made up of several plays and ideas, comes into being. Together we discover corals that suddenly grow in Switzerland or on a theatre stage in Göttingen and elsewhere.

Luise Rist (boat people projekt)



Since 2009, boat people projekt has been working as a free theatre in Göttingen in various constellations with a focus on the topic of flight and migration.

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