The theater project "Our Europe: strangers and friends" will be part of the regular curricular activities of all participating schools. The project is addressed to 12 to 19 year olds. It includes the topics "border crossing" and "Journey into the future". Each topic is the subject area of one year. In an international theater workshop week with all schools participating at the beginning of each school year, the students create the framework, characters and first part of the play in international study groups. The results are collected in a script. The first act and the script are the basis for the creation of the whole play (plot, dialogues, stage, costumes) at each school in the school year. During the theater festival week at the end of each school year the plays are enacted, filmed and put on DVD. In international round table discussions the typical aspects of each county as well as the cultural diversity of the plays are discussed. In the work-in-progress-phase the interim results are put on the net, so that the students get the opportunity to discuss the results and ideas on websites. In this way they are enabled to participate actively in the forming and creating of the other schools’ plays. Project language is English. Thus the students are presented the chance to converse in Europe’s lingua franca in a real-life-situation. The project is also to contain elements of the respective mother tongue to interest the students in learning new languages. A second pillar of the project will be to enable the students to inform themselves and others about the cultural diversity, habits, geography and history of the partner countries. At the end of the two year period an evaluation meeting controls if the set goals were reached and how to use the results further on.
Despite partly intensive dealing with the “EU/ Europe” in the lessons the students as well as the teachers do not have many points of contact in their daily life with the EU as an institution and the growing Europe. If only, both Europes are seen as limiting and abstract. The growing Europe is seen as strange and threatening for the own identity, work and daily life. The motivation of the project is to be found in the possibly positive change of perceptions in the students', parents' and teachers' views and maybe in the whole region.
It shall become apparent that the growing Europe offers chances for the personal future and to find oneself. In all strange things lies something known, worth discovering and enriching. The project aims at motivating the participants to recognize inner and outer bounds and differences. That joint experience shall enable them to name these bounds and differences as well as to transgress those in order to discover values of the national and divided European identity. Taking part in this project shall make them perceive the EU as a freedom, culture and mental diversity promoting administration.
The topics “Border Crossing” and “Journey to the Future” shall awake curiosity for the strange, the gaining of new experiences, values and understandings. Furthermore it is important for the students to discover the otherness and at the same time the unity of the European culture, economy and its life.
“Border Crossing” offers a wide range of possibilities to deal with prejudices and borderline situations with reference to the own person, whereas “Journey to the future” focuses on enacting and experiencing future perspectives and utopias of a joint Europe in a playful manner.
The reason for choosing the medium drama is that existing values, moral concepts, and prejudices can be picked up and then could be exaggerated, transformed and questioned without harming those. The usage of dramatic performance offers the chance to overcome and analyse prejudices. Adding to that students will hopefully be able to gain conclusions for their own behaviours. It is also immanent that it is only possible to achieve main aims together and that it always needs the creativity of many differently thinking brains. In our case, students will work with many different brains from different nations.
A specific evaluation of the participants' knowledge and ideas about Europe as well as their contact with bias and visions of the future shall make it possible to get concrete suggestions for oncoming lessons which deal with Europe in a thought- and interest-provoking way.