Your Life, Your Story: Aarhus Citizen’s Stage

Inspired by Dresden’s ‘Bürgerbühne’, Aarhus is using the Theatron network to establish a cititzen theater scene in its house.

Staatsschauspiel Dresden, DE (concept); Aarhus Teater, DK (adaptation)
Giving citizens their theatre, creating ‘regional world theatre’, engaging audiences in new ways
From spring 2014, the citizens of East Jutland will no longer just be sitting in the audience – they will also be on stage and tell the stories themselves. The BORGER SCENEN – has its own artistic team, its own performance space and offers a range of continuous activities on and off stage.

Adaptation: Aarhus Borgerscenen

Borgerscenen AarhusAbout the Aarhus Borgerscenen

From the spring of 2014, a brand new theatre concept will see the light of day at Aarhus Theatre: The citizens of East Jutland will no longer just be sitting in the audience – they will also be on stage and tell the stories themselves. The concept is called BORGERSCENEN – meaning ‘CITIZEN’S STAGE’ in English –  and is inspired by a very successful project in Dresden.

CITIZEN’S STAGE is also a new performance space at Aarhus Theatre and will be permanently housed at Stiklingen – a stage for and with the citizens of Aarhus.

‘Regional world theatre’ – inspired through the Theatron Network

The vision is that CITIZEN’S STAGE will become a continuous life-giving channel which links the institution of Aarhus Theatre with the citizens of Aarhus. CITIZEN’S STAGE is not producing local amateur theatre but, in rather grander terms, ‘regional world theatre‘.

Inspired by German Staatsschauspiel Dresden’s “Bürgerbühne”, CITIZEN’S STAGE opens up to a shift in perspective, where the citizens, in collaboration with a professional artistic team, become creators of the theatre that is produced and are not ‘just’, as is usually the case, passive spectators in the auditorium.

Equal to the theatre’s other productions

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.34.51CITIZEN’S STAGE has its own artistic team, with director Anne Zacho Søgaard as the artistic director, set designer Sigurdur Óli Pálmason, and a not yet appointed coordinator. The trio is the link between the Theatre and the participating citizens.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.35.02The CITIZEN’S STAGE productions will have professional set design, lighting, sound, etc. and will be prioritised on equal footing with the rest of the Theatre’s productions. In this way, we can take advantage of all the Theatre’s possibilities, on many levels, and we believe that the result will be a life-giving synergy, with new audiences for all of the Theatre’s performing spaces.

People of the city get a voice

The region of East Jutland, with Aarhus at its centre, has its own social issues which reflect the issues the world is facing. CITIZEN’S STAGE will deal with the citizens’ inner as well as outer worlds, depending on the text, theme or point of view we are exploring. In this way, the Theatre is strengthened in its role as a catalyst for dynamic two-way communication.

CITIZEN’S STAGE is based on the idea that our personal experiences, views and life stories are relevant to the many. The citizens of East Jutland get a voice, and we get an ear with which to hear it.

Performances, theatre clubs and theatre dinners

It is the first time that the citizens of Aarhus are invited into the City’s theatre to create theatre themselves over a prolonged period of time. CITIZEN’S STAGE is the framework for a varied programme with two annual productions, several weekly theatre clubs, staged debate dinners and more. The goal is – in an aesthetic and innovative way with regards to content – to create theatre which is in dialogue with the time we live in and the place we live in.


Anyone can participate and no theatre experience is required. In connection with the productions, an audition process will be in place, while the clubs are based on the principle of ‘first come, first served’. It is not necessary to have been on stage before; the desire to work with one’s story or a common theme is the most important thing.

Engaging new Audiences


Aarhus Theatre was inspired to develop CITIZEN’S STAGE by the large German ‘regional theatre’, Staatsschauspiel Dresden, which has been developing its ‘Bürgerbühne’ since 2009. The German results are impressive: studies show that those taking part in the Bürgerbühne productions attend the theatre 6 times as often after they have participated themselves, and every Bürgerbühne participant brings along 25 friends to the productions they are a part of.

Inspiration: Bürgerbühne at Staatsschauspiel Dresden

Director: Miriam Tscholl • Dramaturgy & Production Management: David Benjamin Brückel • Theatre & School / Pedagogy: Bettina Seiler, Christiane Lehmann

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 11.14.35The inspiration for Citizen’s Stage at Aarhus Theatre comes from Dresden, where Staatsschauspiel Dresden has developed Bürgerbühne since its 2009/2010 season. Bürgerbühne is an integral part of Staatsschauspiel’s repertoire and artistic strategy and consists of three elements:

  1. Performances
  2. Theatre Clubs
  3. Citizen Dinners

1. Performances

Each performance revolves around a carefully selected theme, and the performers are selected through an audition process based on their association with the chosen theme and their ability, courage and desire to be on stage. Absolutely no previous theatre experience is required. The focus is on the product.
Examples of performance themes:
– “40 to 60 year old men in midlife crisis”
– “Punks in Dresden”
– “Dresden citizens with experience of Stasi”

2. Theatre Clubs

Theatre Workshops for people with a shared interest, such as “Alternatively gifted”, “The angry club”, “The gifted club”. The participants meet once a week and the course ends with a workshop presentation and a festival theatre club weekend. The focus is on the process.

3. Citizen Dinners

Two groups of Dresden citizens, such as punks and bankers, are invited to a ‘staged’ dinner, guided by a moderator. The audience can also have their dinner there.
“Just like every other production”
The Bürgerbühne productions are included at the same level as the Theatre’s professional productions. There is close collaboration with the Theatre’s in-house artists, departments and workshops (dramaturgy department, communication, wardrobe department, metal and carpentry workshops, props department, make-up and mask departments, etc.). According to Wilfried Schulz, there is just one simple rule consisting of five words for Bürgerbühne: “Just like every other production”.

Die Bürgerbühne in figures

  • 1,200 Dresden citizens have appeared in Die Bürgerbühne in the period 2009-2010 to 2012-2013.
  • During the 2012-2013 season, the Bürgerbühne performances made up 16% of Staatsschauspiel Dresden’s total number of performances (129 out of 824 performances).
  • During the 2012-2013 season, the Bürgerbühne audience number was 18,200 out of a total audience number of 229,200.
  • The participants in Bürgerbühne productions attend the theatre 6 times as often after they have participated in it themselves.
  • Every Bürgerbühne participant brings along 25 friends to the productions they have participated in.

More about Dresden’s Bürgerbühne (in German)

Bürgerbühne Impressions


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